The Apartment, by Greg Baxter
A young American man has moved to an unnamed European city. The winter is harsh, he knows little of the language, and a girl called Saskia is his only sort-of friend. All of this suits him fine: he’s ex-navy, and being detached from the world is what he wants. He refers to his past as a big wave waiting to crash down on him. He and Saskia spend a day trudging through slush, trying to find him an apartment. Nothing much happens, but Baxter skilfully immerses the reader in this man’s mind for the day as he thinks about his family, his childhood, the reaction of local people to Americans, his dodgy work in Iraq. Baxter uses no quotation marks or chapters, however, and paragraphs go on for pages, which can make reading his novel more of a chore than it should be. His writing is so strong that I never gave up on The Apartment, but my heart sank every time I turned a page and saw blocks of print with no white space.