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What Happens at Night

Guest Post by Carla Sarett

What with election hysterics and the COVID Blues, I was starved for a truly immersive read, and lo, Peter Cameron came to my rescue in What Happens at Night.

I’ve been a fan of Cameron’s elegant writing since, well, forever (if you have not read The City of Your Final Destination or Andorra, by all means, do so). Here, he takes Bowlesian themes (he does quote Jane Bowles, if there’s any doubt) but sprinkles them with kindness. Cameron’s mercifully free from the dour outlook on humanity that I’ve come to expect these days, and it makes this work enchanting in the best sense.

A not very happy New York couple wants to adopt a child, and in their quest, ends up in an icy “northern” foreign city, in a comically grand hotel (elaborately, but impractically, appointed). Nothing that happens from that point could possibly be predicted: the couple meets a faith healer, for one thing, and no, he’s not quite a fake. From there, the story by turns becomes surreal and funny and moving. The novel’s atmosphere is dark and cold, but its spirit is one of light, “a warm golden light.”

(I must also mention that the publisher has sprinkled the cover with a barely visible glitter. Perfect.)

What Happens at Night by Peter Cameron. Catapult, August 2020.

Reviewer bio: Carla Sarett’s recent work appears or is forthcoming in Third Wednesday, Prole, Halfway Down the Stairs, and elsewhere.  Her novel, A Closet Feminist, will be published in 2022.

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