The Labyrinth by Ries Murphy

The Sky Below, Stacey D’Erasmo’s most recent novel, explores the theme of flight in many realms.

Labyrinth1 Body

Bear with me here.

I sometimes imagine our collective human experience as a gleaming white castle carved right out of the side of a mountain, its dark stone turrets silhouetted against the purple evening sky, shining silver banners caught high in the morning breeze. Inside this castle are innumerable rooms—crystallized moments out of each day, snapshots of a life that we walk through and touch, rubbing smooth the banisters, copper busts and brass door-handles. Upstairs there’s a tower chamber that’s always locked, on each floor are kitchens where we eat and make merry with our friends by simmering pots of chicken soup and mashed potatoes heaped with gravy. Hidden beneath certain flagstones in the castle’s cellars are dark, yawning manholes that lead into the castle’s subterranean depths, an underground confusion of tunnels and anonymous corridors known simply as “the Labyrinth.”

An embodiment of our constant desire to explore the space between spaces, the Labyrinth is a shifting maze of our most unflinching and unbroken questions, a spider web of sandy tunnels secretly sheltering buried boxes full of discarded memories, forgotten rooms now communal sepulchers for antique experiences lined up like so many dusty jars on old wooden shelves. As I perused a few of these interviews between artists, I was surprised to notice one recurrent theme—our artists (for the most part) spent very little time on the castle grounds before they descended into the castle cellars, probing at the flagstone tiles, eagerly searching for a labyrinth entrance, yearning to get lost, to hold up their art like lanterns, aching to fight off the claustrophobic darkness.

I know, I know, it’s all very dramatic and visual, but I get excited when fascinating people talk about fascinating things. Here are some of my favorite moments thus far, moments that I find to be the most impressive concepts of each interview, moments that are true gems. It’s incredible what happens when you explore the Labyrinth with no intention of really finding anything—because you never know what you’ll find anyway.

Barbara Kasten by Leslie Hewitt
Barbara Kasten 01
Marcia Douglas by Loretta Collins Klobah
Half Way Tree

In echoes and splices of “narrative sonic bites,” Douglas sets her experimental novel, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread, to the dub pulse of Rasta tradition.

Roque Larraquy’s Comemadre by J.W. McCormack
Comemadre Abedit

Let’s begin with death. “Let’s say that in the course of all human experience, death is pure conjecture: it is, as such, not an experience. And all that which is not an experience is useless to mankind.” The speaker here is Ledesma, one of a cadre of lovelorn, thoroughly chauvinistic doctors up to no good at a sanatorium just outside Buenos Aires.

Gunnhild Øyehaug’s Wait, Blink by Ryan Chapman
Wait Blink

What kind of novel would you write if you had never read a novel before? Would it have the mounting tension of a campfire tale? The breathless cadence of fresh gossip shared with a best friend? If you’re Norwegian writer Gunnhild Øyehaug, you unspool 50,000 words with the inventiveness of Scheherazade and the guilelessness of a Red Bull–fueled, hyperarticulate ten-year-old. This is Wait, Blink.