Friday, October 28, 2011

"Rooum" by Oliver Onions

"Certificated" is apparently a word, something I didn't know. Although I liked it better thinking that it was a fake word. Additionally, the narrator is as afraid of spider as I am.

This was a decent story I suppose, and I'm not really sure what to make of the ending paragraph. The narrator, working for a construction firm, befriends a drifter who occasionally shows up and miraculously repairs or solves whatever problem is currently being faced during a construction task. However, he can't grasp simple concepts (in this story, biology and chemistry are apparently simple concepts). In addition, he's jumpy and anxiety-ridden, constantly looking behind him and avoiding any and all echo-y areas. Unless he goes through these areas slowly, listening intently, and keeping an eye and ear out for the person he always hears and feels running up to him, and then through him, and going on past him.

Yeah, in my opinion this guy was just insane, but the little preface before the story began stated that Onions was trying to tell a story about the presence of some kind of afterlife/alternate life, that only a few unfortunate few can see or feel. Still think that this drifter Rooum was just insane or on drugs, but I'm a psych major so I'm programmed to think that way.

Like I said, the concluding paragraphs confused the hell out of me. After Rooum loses it at a construction site and aggressively controls a crane in an attempt to run over the presence following him, the narrator loses consciousness/memory, and is told by another that he was on his knees in the crane cab 'jabbering away cheerfully to myself'. Is this supposed to mean that he's now able to feel/see the presence that Rooum was terrorized by? Did he just lose it after watching the events that had just unfolded? Was HE somehow this horrifying presence? I don't really know, and I don't really think I care to know, either. This story did have some creepy moments (sleep-talkers and echoes and that feeling of being followed are all a little unnerving), but was mostly kinda bland and uninteresting. Maybe, as I'm told about "Young Goodman Brown", it requires more than one read-through to get into it and see all the little nuances that get missed the first time around. But, unlike "Young Goodman Brown" I'm less inclined to give "Rooum" that chance.

- Justin

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