“An Assignation”

It’s a much belated discussion of a piece of weird fiction we recently discussed over at LibraryThing.

Review: “An Assignation”, Sean O’Brien, 2012.

An assignation is exactly what this story, told in the second person, is about. 

It’s long on atmosphere and subjectivity and short on plot, but the story captures the exhilaration of leaving it all behind when the protagonist takes the train out of Paris for a romantic assignation in a provincial town.

The woman is beautiful and perfect and, she admits, she also gave a false name for their meeting. 

They have never met before, but, over an evocatively described meal and wine, things go well, and the two head off to her place. 

We hear how the protagonist’s life has been leading up to this moment. 

But, with the lines

This is what you always had in mind. This is what all those others were the preparation for, for such a night as this, the thirsty self ‘s apotheosis. You wish that both of you could live forever.

we begin to think he might have something murderous in mind though, of course, there is an innocent alternative to those words. The story could imply that he is a would-be murderer or has already killed. 

But the tables are turned when he and the woman go onto a dance floor in a glassed-in gallery.  It’s not just a possible biter-bitten story with the woman turning out to be a killer. There’s an odd scene where the protagonist sees a whole room full of women dancing with men whose throats have been cut. It’s memorable and startling, and the story is short enough not to wear out its welcome.

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