The drug of choice in this peculiar but thoroughly well-crafted novel of addiction, obsession and excess is architecture.
Three clients find themselves in thrall to the rigid dictates of “The Architect,” a master builder driven by his own inner demons (his mother turned the family’s line of prosthetic devices into sex toys, one of which, in a particularly bizarre scene, electrocutes her). The three must now labor fruitlessly to reestablish their own lives and reclaim their own destinies.
Unfortunately for them, though, there is no escaping the psychic bonds of the aesthetic prison that holds them. The Architect, aided by the practiced skullduggery of The Assistant (the narrator of the piece and a man pursuing his own odd ends) as well as by the hidden cameras “installed … in every house he designed so he could check up on his clients,” watches compulsively to make sure that none violate the purity of his renderings.
Predictably, all three do, and for their transgressions each is punished in a uniquely tailored way, calculated to strike that individual where he is most vulnerable. Involving such things as rat infestations, electric shocks, a disruption of family life, and a crippled sex drive, The Architect’s revenge is, by his peculiar standards, unbearably sweet. So sweet, in fact, that in the end it consumes him, making him the final victim of his own rigorous code.
The story is filled with metaphor and such memorable asides as satires on art, commerce, and self-help recovery groups. As such, The Architect is no easy read. Still, the points the author makes about identity, about true believers and their less-than-willing acolytes, are provocative and well worth the effort. Readers will find much to ponder in these pages.
Also available as an ebook.