The Gold Persimmon

Lindsay Merbaum. Creature, $16 trade paper (274p) ISBN 978-1-951971-05-2
Merbaum’s uneven experimental debut delves into two strange hotels in New York City. Cly works check-in at the exclusive Gold Persimmon, a quiet place designed for guests to grieve. Cly finds solace in the hotel’s rules (windows must be kept closed; alcohol is banned), but when a guest coerces her into a sexual relationship, a violation of the rules, Cly’s world falls apart. The narrative then abruptly shifts to a parallel reality featuring Jaime, a 20-something nonbinary person seeking menial work at the Red Orchid, which is modeled like a Japanese love hotel. A mysterious fog descends on the city, and as Jaime is trapped in the hotel with a group of strangers, the story takes on the tropes of a thriller. Jaime bonds with Zosiah, a guest, and Adrienne, a woman who works the front desk, to survive in increasingly dangerous circumstances, including a predatory staff member. (Although Cly doesn’t appear in this part, Jaime imagines a hotel “to cry in,” which suggests the Gold Persimmon of Cly’s world.) Merbaum then returns to Cly, who has lost her job at the Gold Persimmon and must finally confront her own grief. This sags under the weight of two separate narratives, but the intriguing concepts and tense situations hold it together. While flawed, it’s a worthy effort. Agent: Kate Garrick, the Karpfinger Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/16/2021
Release date: 10/05/2021
Genre: Fiction
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