One snowy December morning in an old European city, an American man leaves his shabby hotel to meet a local woman who has agreed to help him search for an apartment to rent. The Apartment follows the couple across a blurry, illogical, and frozen city into a past the man is hoping to forget and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future – their cityscape punctuated by the man’s lingering memories of time spent in Iraq and the life he abandoned in the United States. Contained within the details of this day is a complex meditation on America’s relationship with the rest of the world, an unflinching glimpse at the permanence of guilt and despair, and an exploration into our desire to cure violence with violence.
A story about how our relationships to others – and most important to ourselves -alter how we see the world, THE APARTMENT perfectly captures the peculiarity and excitement of being a stranger in a strange city. It is written in an affecting and intimate tone that gradually expands in scope, intensity, poetry and drama as it tells the intriguing story of these two people on this single day. Both beguiling and raw in its observations and language, this is a crisp novel with enormous range that offers profound and unexpected wisdom.
As I read the synopsis, I was really enticed to read this book – then I was really disappointed. I will describe this book as something that is low-key. It takes places over the course of a single day in the life of the protagonist (I can’t even remember his name — or I think the name of the American man was not mentioned). I like the mysteriousness of his character. There are other characters in the story (like the owners of the hotel) but mostly the focus is on SASKIA (his companion — I don’t know if there is something going on between the two), the person who helped him search for an apartment.
The story has a lot of flashbacks (which sometimes made it so boring!), about his life in the US and in the military. When I read this book, it just feels that someone is telling how his day went or what happened during the day (nothing so special).
Basically, he went from different places and each time he went to a place there is something that reminded him of his past. He then found an apartment, he went out with Saskia and other friends, then there was a fight, then he was back having breakfast with Saskia the following day — the end.
Lesson learned: The only time you ever really see a place is the first time and last time you’re there – the day you move in and the day you move out.