A stranger enters the city archives, corners a librarian, and begins to tell him a story. The librarian is supposed to be married in four hours' time, but the stranger compels him to listen. Many hours later he is still listening, and still unmarried.
The stranger's name is Izzy Darlow, and the story revolves around his fractured family and their obsessions. The family home is a labyrinth. His older brother, Aaron, conducts secret and increasingly perilous experiments in his attic bedroom. His younger brother, Josh, who speaks with a lisp but sings like an angel, wanders the streets at night consumed by visions of destruction. Izzy's own place in this curious family is complicated by disturbing influences: the terrifying books he reads compulsively in the school library, his charismatic but dangerous friend Campbell, the vicious force of his emerging sexuality.
Woven into Izzy's tale is the story of a young woman called Katie, who has been confined to a mental hospital as a result of a cruel violation suffered in her youth. Where do these two stories meet? What is Izzy leaving out, what has he forgotten? And why can the anxious librarian not extricate himself from the web that Izzy weaves around him? As the story swirls deeper, taking reference from architecture, literature, history and myth, the reader is drawn into Izzy's frighteningly dislocated world, where the only response to suffering and guilt is amnesia.
Douglas Cooper was born in Toronto in 1960. After taking an MA in philosophy, he led safaris in Kenya, wrote feature screenplays for Talisman Films in London, and settled for a time in Paris, where he completed this novel.