cover image Atlantic Hotel

Atlantic Hotel

João Gilberto Noll, trans. from the Portuguese by Adam Morris. Two Lines (PGW, dist.), $9.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-931883-60-3

Stalked by death and spurred by the desire to keep moving, the narrator of Atlantic Hotel sets off on aimless and perilous trip through his native Brazil in Noll’s (Quiet Creature on the Corner) engagingly nightmarish novel. Unhampered by luggage, this unnamed man begins by checking into a hotel where someone’s just been murdered. After a tryst with a woman he meets in the lobby, he purchases a bus ticket at random and sets off for Florianópolis, seated next to a beautiful American with a tragic past, who gives him her ex-husband’s coat. The next step on his noir-ish journey involves a brothel, two incompetent criminals, and a daring escape: “I’d have to run for it [and] get quickly to the car, which was close to the guard dogs who would bark as though possessed…” Recognized by fellow travelers as an actor, the hero still has several personas to assume, but no way to avoid the strange reckoning that’s in store for him. Constructed as a picaresque, Noll’s novel is ultimately the story of a man learning to die; blithe descriptions of sex and violence share the page with memorable images, including the narrator in a borrowed soutane and found staff walking through a small Brazilian village, conscious that he appears to be a “man in constant touch with sacred spheres, who didn’t see the visible world.” Readers will find his journey brief, captivating, and wonderfully opaque. (May)