This Place That Place

Melville House. Jun. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781612199498. pap. $17.99. F
DEBUTFrom an author specializing in the role of theater in understanding conflict, this debut novel has a highly unusual structure: all characters are unnamed, and the names of places are generic. For example, This Place has long been occupied by That Place, and the two countries can stand in for any places past or present, where a stronger power holds military control over a weaker one. During a period of curfew, a woman from That Place is embedded with a family in This Place and is developing a curriculum to be used to deprogram That Place’s soldiers. The novel consists of stream-of-consciousness dialogue between the woman and the man whose family she is staying with, the woman’s curriculum and the man’s commentary on it, and the explanations of the elaborate coping system developed by the man who has lived most of his life under occupation. The two central characters try to achieve mutual understanding despite the different ideologies and circumstances under which they were raised, struggling with how to express themselves without offense and fighting against their growing mutual attraction.
VERDICT Without a traditional plot, there is a story, and a touching love story at that, underlying a frank and painful look at what opposing governments and ideologies do to individuals.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing