The Traymore Rooms: A Novel in Five Parts
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A HYPOALLERGIC FALL LITERARY RELEASE TO KNOW ABOUT
“Norm Sibum is not everyone's cup of tea ... instead of breathing air he inhales the exhaust of apocalyptic times.”—Books in Canada
A place: the Traymore Rooms, downtown Montreal, an old walk-up. Those who live there and drink at the nearby café form the heart of Traymorean society. Their number includes: Eggy, red-faced, West Virginian, a veteran of Korea; Eleanor R (not Eleanor Roosevelt); Dubois, French Canadian, optimist; Moonface, waitress-cum-Latin-scholar and sexpot inexpert; and, most recently, our hero Calhoun. A draft dodger and poetical type.
For a time all is life-as-usual: Calhoun argues with Eggy and Dubois, eats Eleanor’s cobblers, gossips of Moonface, muses on Virgil and the current President. With the arrival of a newcomer to Traymore, however, Calhoun’s thoughts grow fixated and dark. He comes to believe in the reality of evil. This woman breaks no laws and she inflicts no physical harm—yet for the citizens of Traymore, ex-pats and philosophers all, her presence becomes a vortex that draws them closer to the America they dread.
Intelligent and frighteningly absurd, with a voice as nimble as Gass’s and satire that pierces like Wallace’s, The Traymore Roomsis a sustained howl against libertarianism under George W. Bush.
Norm Sibum has been writing and publishing poetry for over thirty years. Born in Oberammergau in 1947, he grew up in Germany, Alaska, Utah, and Washington before moving to Vancouver in 1968. The Traymore Rooms is his first novel.
would chill me. Hooded figures. Murderous hands. Consider that there was no automatic weapons fire in those ancient, imperial days, no bombs, no missile strikes. Save for the clamour of sacking armies or street riots, murder was a silent business. Coalesce all the cries on the part of all the victims into a single groan, and it would raise no more ruckus than a butterfly’s wings. And here, in this my faded Jezebel of a town, I loved sitting out on the terrasse, watching the world go by. A
menace with that bell. I feel like a maid in the employ of a rich old lecher.’ ‘He’s becoming divine,’ I said. She did not care, it seemed, to pursue that line of thought. ‘So, Vancouver?’ I said, in light of the fact she was headed there, soon. I was clothed and in her eyes now. ‘A week from tomorrow,’ she answered. ‘Anything special? I mean, is there anything in particular you plan to do there?’ ‘Not really.’ ‘There’s not much I can tell you about the place. I’m told I wouldn’t
Traymoreans affectionately called Eggy, had been awaiting our company with some impatience. Dubois having said that he had brought the new guy in for interrogation, Eggy hoo-hooed in my direction and said, ‘How do you do?’ And then he asked, ‘And what do you do?’ ‘Nothing,’ I answered. ‘Well, that’s something,’ Eggy replied. ‘Come on, now,’ said Dubois, ‘you must do something.’ ‘The nothing I do,’ I responded, ‘is to write verse. Oh, I read a little but mostly I sit around and brood.’ ‘I’m a
motions. It was a disconcerting spectacle as he, being Jewish, was very nearly goose-stepping. Absent so far were Too Tall Poet and Blind Musician. Still, it was quite the neighbourhood, one chock-a-block with characters. The Quality of Eleanor’s Tears ‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘we’re mostly sexual creatures, don’t you think?’ I had just echoed some ologist, much to my horror. ‘Really?’ said Dubois the materialist, we at table with Eleanor in her kitchen. ‘Well then, what are we? Chemical
straw. The rain in Spain. Always.’ A rich man from Toronto called on Eleanor. She was unwise enough to entertain him. Later we were to learn he called her ‘Ellie’, that he was no millionaire’s millionaire, but give him time, he was just getting started. Dubois (oh, bad luck!) unwittingly knocked on Eleanor’s door, was told to go away, she was busy. It was unmistakable—the appearance of entitlement. A smart pant leg, the one leg crossed over the other, ran parallel with the couch. Not only