The Blindfold

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Iris Vegan is a postgraduate literature student at Columbia University. In the first story, she takes a position as a researcher for the unnerving Mr. Morning, whose ambition it is to reconstruct the life of a murdered girl from some ordinary yet mysterious objects she has left behind. The second story deals with the protagonist’s relations with two of her male friends, one of whom takes an alarming photograph of her. The relationships in the third story are virtually all female, and deal with Iris’s stay in a psychiatric ward. THE BLINDFOLD concludes by returning to the narrative idea of the opening story, again featuring research, an older man for mentor, and ensuing identity conflicts.

The novel’s interest derives, in the first place, from the situation in which the protagonist finds herself. In one sense or another, all the situations are extreme, and are related to characters more powerful than Iris (usually, though not exclusively male) introducing her to unknown yet undeniable depths of emotional experience. The existence of such depths within the enigmatic mundanity of things is persuasively rendered in the author’s controlled, lucid, but not dispassionate style. Equally impressive are the various subtle artistic means which not only give the quartet of stories an overall formal unity but also provide intellectual credibility for their psychological and cultural underworld. In a variety of intriguing and interesting ways, THE BLINDFOLD is at least a fascinating example of the New Gothic, and quite possibly something rather more.