You know the impossible staircases of M C Escher? The Way Inn is like that. If that doesn’t intrigue you, here is a spot-on description by a reviewer at The Guardian: ‘Terence Conran meets H P Lovecraft’ and ‘Kafka as a new Ikea furniture range’.
The Way Inn is narrated by a man called Neil Double. He’s paid to attend conferences so that his clients don’t have to. His world is basically chain hotels, lanyards, free tote bags, minibars and one-night stands. Sounds dull to some people, but he loves it. However, when he goes to a new branch of the Way Inn hotel, things start to unravel. There is just a hint of sinister weirdness. Then it gets weirder. And weirder. And weirder.
I thought the writing style was excellent. It’s a little formal at times and Wiles has the knack of presenting the blandest most mundane settings and activities in new and original ways. The sense of place is brilliant and the characters are well-crafted. Neil Double (not his real name) is still quite mysterious, even by the end of the story, and I liked that. There’s not a great deal of plot until maybe two thirds through. The focus is on building a sinister atmosphere and emphasising the layout and interior design of the hotel. The author’s profession of architecture and design journalist is evident. There are also criticisms of corporate culture, the service industry and out-of-town developments.
It’s a great read, maybe not for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for something out of the ordinary, give this book a try.
First published in 2014 by 4th Estate.