The Apartment

Greg Baxter

The Apartment

One snowy morning in an old European capital, a man wakes in a hotel room. A young local woman he has befriended calls to the hotel, and the two of them head out into the snow to find the man an apartment to rent. Greg Baxter's astonishing first novel tells the story of these two people on this day - and the old stories that brought them to where they are. Its magically subtle and intense narrative takes them across the frozen city and into the past that the man is hoping to escape, and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future. The Apartment is a book about war, the relationship between America and the rest of the world, and the brittle foundations of Western culture; but above all it is a book about the mysteries and alchemies of friendship. 3.8 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
The Apartment

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 240
RRP
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-1844882861
Publisher Penguin
 

One snowy morning in an old European capital, a man wakes in a hotel room. A young local woman he has befriended calls to the hotel, and the two of them head out into the snow to find the man an apartment to rent. Greg Baxter's astonishing first novel tells the story of these two people on this day - and the old stories that brought them to where they are. Its magically subtle and intense narrative takes them across the frozen city and into the past that the man is hoping to escape, and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future. The Apartment is a book about war, the relationship between America and the rest of the world, and the brittle foundations of Western culture; but above all it is a book about the mysteries and alchemies of friendship.

Reviews

The Independent

Lucy Scholes

Where in his memoir, meditation turned to navel-gazing, here Baxter handles this emphasis on interiority with commanding effect. His protagonist is not merely struggling beneath the weight of the violence in his own life story; he grapples with the larger sense of history that infuses the text with an effect that recalls WG Sebald. While very little actually happens – Baxter's characters walk, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and stamp their feet against the cold – there's a maturity to The Apartment not often found in debut novels.

03/04/2012

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The Observer

Julie Myerson

Even when it doesn't entirely succeed, The Apartment is admirable for its scope, ambition and unashamed seriousness of purpose, as well as its willingness to take stylistic and structural risks … For such a relatively short, tightly written novel, this book wears many (occasionally conflicting) guises. A small novel containing a huge one. Or a huge one, trying to pass itself off as something slim, exquisite and jewel-like.

22/04/2012

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The Times

Lisa Zanardo

Baxter’s superbly elegant, understated writing explores the dynamics of America’s relationship with the rest of the world.

14/04/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

David Annand

With its taciturn, enigmatic narrator (there is something unblinkingly existentialist about him, kind of like a Camus character), and its oblique almost inconsequential plot, the novel operates like a work of art: it invites the reader to divine what he chooses from digressions on Baroque architecture and the value of an expensive coat.

19/04/2012

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The Independent

Lesley McDowell

Pared-down prose and prosaic details convey the emptiness he feels, interspersed with disturbing memories of his time at war.

20/04/2013

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The Guardian

James Lasdum

There's something curiously undermining about the manner in which this speaker discloses the darker details of his past: a grandiosity that doesn't seem quite intended, and which, rather than revealing him as a tormented bearer of imperial guilt, makes him sound as if he thinks he's actually one very cool dude ... I don't want to overstate the flaws of The Apartment. It's an interesting, honourable novel, with many excellent passages. But one misses the raw candour of the earlier book, and the vulnerability of its narrator.

04/04/2012

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