Reflections from Behind the Glass
by Japser A. Lee

"Love is a choice I doubt I’ll make again."

This experimental epistolary novel consists of journal entries written in a controlled stream-of-consciousness style. Articulate to a fault and lyrical, the narrative voice is strong and sometimes disturbing in its intensity and obsessiveness. The narrator addresses his lover, Julia. He is clearly beguiled by her but possibly also in love with his own incessant philosophizing. He is also sensual and sensitive but potentially more in love with his own words than with the woman he addresses. The reader will wonder if Julia is truly as wonderful as his glowing praise suggests or if he places her on a pedestal that he would gladly knock her down from when his attention falters.

Rather than evoke sadness or empathy for the narrator's loss of Julia, the endless soul-searching, longing, and overthinking spirals inward upon itself. We see a man who may only be entertaining himself with his elaborate, self-comforting literary diarrhea. Rather than being truly introspective, perhaps he is an overly indulgent narcissist. As the title suggests, his mental gymnastic marathons may entrap him, locking him away from the truth he purports to seek.

As the narrative has no dialogue and no pretense at storytelling except through the narrator's confessional rambling, the intensity of intimacy feels unhinged. The speaker takes great pains to leave no thought unexplored. The reader will wonder if honesty is central to this focused rambling or if the narrator is simply unreliable. He has done something that lands him in prison, and yet his own words seem to be simultaneously the redemption and the entrapped state. Likewise, the fine-tuned writing seems both the vehicle for self-discovery and, somehow, the cause of his downfall. This intriguing tale feels as challenging as it is unique, seemingly pointless, but ultimately perceptive.

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