MAPPING THE INTERIOR by Stephen Graham Jones (Tor Books)
There are books that touch a nerve, that raw primal feeling of unease and sadness that dances with awe and fear. I have yet to read anything from Stephen Graham Jones that does not fall within that realm. I would be lying were I not to state outright that he is my favorite writer working today. I am constantly-entertained, inspired and awestruck by his work. MAPPING THE INTERIOR is no exception.
The novella begins with fifteen-year old Junior standing at the living room window, peripherally he sees a man in full Blackfeet dancer regalia cross to the doorway to the back of the house. To the utility room, his bedroom. He sleepily decides it is his father, a long-dead man who people felt was destined to be a Fancy dancer but who never danced or wore the attire in his life.
Obsessed with finding out why his father is haunting them and their house, the boy explores every inch of their home looking for proof what he saw was real. He draws intricate maps and notes and does all of this while playing surrogate Father and bodyguard to his younger brother, Dino. A little boy with not-so-little problems. Then he finds the bead and realizes there is much more exploring to be done.
One of the reasons that Jones is such a fantastic writer is that he puts so much of himself in the work. The thoughts and feelings articulated here are familiar and possibly universal. Some he attributes to Native American culture but most are simply things that can only be seen and felt when we occupy that weird cusp of child-teetering-on-the-edge-of-adulthood. When our honesty has not been tarnished and our willingness to believe the unbelievable and ponder the proudly peculiar is as strong as wet leather.
There is an honesty that exudes from every phrase and word that you simply cannot fake. With MAPPING THE INTERIOR, he has opened floodgates. It is a simply breath-taking and tragic narrative that will leave you wrung out. It is an intricate and introspective and at its heart, terrifying story. (John Boden)