I have almost reached the end of my Nick Bantock binge. I wouldn’t recommend that you try this in your own home, however. I have fond memories of the first three Griffin and Sabine books from back in the day. I have a copy of Bantock’s pop-up edition of Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan” and it is delightful. When I got the urge a month ago for some tactile books I went to the library and grabbed all the Griffin and Sabine books they had – books 1 through 4 and book 6 – as well as The Forgetting Room. I’ve made my way through the first 4 Griffin and Sabine books and will be picking up book 5 from the library tomorrow. I had to return book six because someone else had the nerve to want it. But I am not sure I am going to get it back. We’ll see how book 5 goes.
Today though, let’s talk about the wreck that is The Forgetting Room. It has such potential too. Armon’s grandfather who is an artist living in Spain dies and leaves his house and its contents to Armon. Armon goes to Spain for a week fully intending to clear the place out and sell the house but gets sucked into a puzzle his grandfather left him.
When Armon was a boy he spent all his time with his grandfather in his studio and his grandfather taught him how to draw and paint. But Armon’s father moved the family to America and Armon grew up to pursue something practical. Of course it shriveled his soul too. The puzzle left by Armon’s grandfather angers Armon immensely but at the same time, and unnoticed by Armon, it also reawakens his lost creativity.
The story is written as a journal of the week in Spain and includes the collage painting Armon created during the week with details about the creation process. In a good writer’s hands the story would have been interesting. But, I have realized, Bantock is not a good writer, he is merely competent. Therefore the story ends up feeling dry and rather pedestrian. There is no sense of urgency and even the puzzle mystery left me feeling meh since it was impossible for me as a reader to try and solve because the clues were ones in the studio that I could not see. Then at the end of the book Bantock has to toss in some weird supernatural elements that totally don’t work and nearly elicited a groan from me as I read.
With any luck I will soon forget The Forgetting Room. As for Griffin and Sabine, the test will come with book 5 tomorrow.