Horror in the Archives: A Review of Gina Nutt’s “Night Rooms”

"Night Rooms"

There’s something slippery about the contemporary literary essay, which sometimes seems designed to allow its real subject—perhaps a personal experience or a critical intervention—to evade capture by the reader for as long as possible. The essayist will often present an accrual of observations or vignettes structured to reveal meaning in fits and starts, as if to state a thesis outright would be to strip it of its fragile ephemerality. But this delicate art of obfuscation becomes a natural mode of narration in Gina Nutt’s Night Rooms, an exquisite collection of linked essays that centers the idea of escape as a presiding principle, not just in form—as these essays break from conventional expectations in provocative ways—but also in content. In these pages, the grounding conventions of the horror film serve as handholds as the essays circle around themes of the body and grief and survival. All the while, something sinister lurks in the white space between the paragraphs, an unnamed threat that is felt rather than seen.

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