Perdido: A Fragment from a Work in Progress
by Peter Straub
Cover Artist: Michael Fusco
Review by Mario Guslandi
Subterranean Press Deluxe Hardcover Edition ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596066809
Date: 31 May 2015
Perdido is a fragment of a Peter Straub novel "in progress" which might always remain uncompleted. The final comments by the author at the end of the book do precious little to clarify if there is a chance to someday see an ending. Not finishing this book would be a shame because, even in its current, unfinished format, the story is fascinating.
Perdido is an elusive, very exclusive, Norwegian resort of a peculiar nature. Here only an extremely select group of guests are admitted and where supposedly, people can obtain what they were not aware they desired in the first place.
But Perdido, for some lucky persons, is only the first step of an ascent to other, more challenging places on a steep mountain. It is also a metaphor of the human condition, and of our unrelenting quest for more -- both spiritually and materially.
Thus, in the present, draft version of the story, a bored married couple, who, enthused by a friend, decide to try this new adventure. Their teenaged son (a failed musical virtuoso) travel with them. All their lives will be changed forever in an unfathomable way.
Straub tells us very little about what actually took place in Perdido and why the wife was affected, at least apparently, to a considerably greater extent than the husband, whose ambiguous behavior remain not quite clear. The family cat also plays a tragic role in the hazy events that occurred during the vacation in Perdido.
All in all, a mysterious, mesmerizing piece of fiction that, not unexpectedly, Straub admits was triggered by a dream.
The unsolved mystery, frustrating as it may be, is well worth reading thanks to the writer's unique narrative talent and his ability to probe the secrets of the human soul.