A couple find themselves at a fading, grand European hotel full of eccentric and sometimes unsettling patrons in this "faultlessly elegant and quietly menacing" allegorical story that examines the significance of shifting desires and the uncertainty of reality (Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness).
An American couple travel to a strange, snowy European city to adopt a baby, who they hope will resurrect their failing marriage. This difficult journey leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband worries that her apparent illness will prevent the orphanage from releasing their child.
The couple check into the cavernous and eerily deserted Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel where the bar is always open and the restaurant serves thirteen-course dinners from centuries past. Their attempt to claim their baby is both helped and hampered by the people they encounter: an ancient, flamboyant chanteuse, a debauched businessman, an enigmatic faith healer, and a stoic bartender who dispenses an addictive, lichen-flavored schnapps. Nothing is as it seems in this mysterious, frozen world, and the longer the couple endure the punishing cold the less they seem to know about their marriage, themselves, and life itself.
What Happens at Night is a "masterpiece" (Edmund White) poised on the cusp of reality, told by "an elegantly acute and mysteriously beguiling writer" (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe).
“A smart, deep, black magic carnie noir existential bloodbath” from the acclaimed author of Boon (Gemma Files, Shirley Jackson Award–winning author). In the shadow of World War II, the barren, dusty streets of Litchfield, Arkansas, are even quieter than usual, leaving hotel detective George “Jojo” Walker with too much time to struggle with his own personal demons. But everything changes when a traveling picture show comes to town. The film’s purveyors check into the hotel where Jojo works and set up a special midnight screening at the local theater. The curtain rises on a surreal carnival of dark magic and waking nightmares, starring Jojo and the residents of Litchfield, as madness, murder, and mayhem threaten to engulf them all . . . “A stunner of a story . . . Flat-out brilliant . . . Unfolds like petals of an exotic and scandalous black flower—each one gently opening to give the reader a distressing revelation . . . Powerful ideas, wrapped in a dark mantle of horror.” —My Haunted Library “If you like pulpy noir with a dose of existentialism mixed with some utterly bizarre horror, this book is for you.” —Fangoria “Genre mash-ups like this one are difficult to execute, but Kurtz navigates it deftly, with writing so visceral and evocative it feels less like reading a book and more like watching a film in real time.” —Literary Hub “While it echoes with the shadowy threatening of Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and the religious dread of Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel, the clearest voice here is Kurtz’s own cry into the existential abyss.” —Bracken MacLeod, author of Mountain Home
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