There is a lulling quality to Luke Horton’s writing — emblematic of its narrator, Tom, who suffers from a panic disorder that often makes social interaction traumatic — that makes his acute examinations of the complex ecosystem of a deteriorating relationship, and machinations of friendship, all the more piercing. His prose is spare and disarming, but purposeful; choreographed, even; a writer at the height of his powers, unspooling his narrative with remarkable precision.
“The Fogging” is ostensibly the story of a break-up, but without the hyperbolic trappings or tropes synonymous with such stories. There is no major cataclysm that sparks the demise of Clara and Tom’s relationship — the unexpected fumigation (or fogging) of their resort is the one moment of heightened drama, when things threaten to spill over. But the rot is there, festering, even before we meet them; two Australian academics, in their mid thirties, on their way to Bali for a holiday.
“The Fogging” is told exclusively from Tom’s perspective, so our view of his relationship with Clara is tainted and biased; but that’s the point. Its weapon is its absolute sincerity and dedication to a singular viewpoint. It’s pure in its solipsism. Horton’s work is a study in control of tone. It is a penetrating and moving portrait on a relationship reaching its climax, and a man undone by a hyper-awareness that borders on narcissism. And it’s affecting because so many of Tom’s flaws are reflections of our own.
PUB DATE: 2 Jul 2020