Paperback review: The Apartment, By Greg Baxter

 

Possibly overshadowed by Kevin Powers's equally excellent The Yellow Birds, which also came out last year, this novel by Texan-born Greg Baxter, who has lived in Dublin and now resides in Berlin, also has at its centre a US veteran of the Iraq war who is coming to terms with his experiences as he settles himself uneasily in an unnamed European city.

Baxter's tale is starker than Powers's, but perhaps lacks the intimacy and force of the latter, preferring quietness and distance instead, as his protagonist looks for an apartment in a strange, purposeless kind of way, while also negotiating a relationship with a young woman, which might or might not lead somewhere more hopeful. Pared-down prose and prosaic details convey the emptiness he feels, interspersed with disturbing memories of his time at war.

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