cover image The Guard

The Guard

Peter Terrin. Quercus/MacLehose, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-62365-900-4

Guards Harry and Michel inhabit the basement garage of the luxury apartment building whose erstwhile residents they were hired to protect. Confined to the quarters supplied by their invisible employer, their work is their existence, even as they wonder why the tenants have fled. Terrin twists this absurdist nightmare with the arrival of a unnamed third guard, who is evasive about the outside and the reasons for his presence. As an increasingly unnerved Harry demands answers, Terrin uses a pesky fly, a faulty toilet, and mounting uncertainty about the nature of the guards’ employer to create a claustrophobic world that recalls the works of Pinter and Kafka. Harry and Michel’s ascent to the residential level to locate and protect the building’s possibly mythical last tenant grows increasingly hallucinogenic, and is related through Michel’s unreliable narration. Terrin unabashedly invokes existentialist philosophy, and his vivid portrayal of characters gripped by unresolved fears and faced with absurd situations makes his work nectar for reflective readers. (Jan.)