cover image Passersthrough


Peter Rock. Soho, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-64129-343-3

Rock (The Night Swimmers) offers an eerie account of the attempted reconciliation between an estranged father and daughter. Benjamin Hanson, 76, gets a visit from 36-year-old Helen, who wants to rebuild a relationship with him and begins by installing a recording device in his house. What follows is a mix of transcribed recordings of their conversations, which take place remotely while she stays in a motel, visiting him in Portland, Ore., from San Mateo, Calif. Benjamin chafes at the technology but acquiesces to use the fax machine, and she faxes him a message expressing a desire to understand a traumatic event from her childhood. When Helen was 11, she disappeared from the foot of Mt. Rainier. Gone for a week, her “misadventure” was never fully explained. Things get weird and complicated when a group who might be a family of ghosts shows up at Benjamin’s house. The family’s unnamed boy and girl suggest Benjamin hike to Sad Clown Lake. Rock draws on the mountain scenery to create a surreal atmosphere, culminating in a haunting scene of disaster. The result is an otherwise conventional family conflict that convincingly morphs into something genuinely bizarre. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)