Book Review: Pythia in the Basement
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas
Grounded and honest, this novel confronts the truths obscured by the absurdities of life in the modern age.
I struggle to organize my thoughts in the aftermath of reading this book. I hesitate to write lest my writing betray my mental incoherence, but such is the effect of much existential literature. Pythia in the Basement stands confidently among genre giants with a mocking grin and beckoning eyes, sure of its assessment of life’s great mysteries. It disarms you with its poise, leaving you susceptible to its energetic assertions regarding the delusional nature of religion, culture, death, etc., while examining humankind’s futile attempts to rationalize the societies we built which are, increasingly, irrational.
Our protagonist (who is by no means a hero even by his own estimation) is Colin. Following the loss of his job and the dissolution of his marriage due to his infidelity with his ex-boss, Colin is hoping to turn over a new leaf as he starts his new job at a bookstore in Denver.
Though plagued by guilt over his continuing correspondence with the woman who he cheated with, Colin continues his search for love (or, more accurately, a situationship) as his life progressively becomes the subject of meaningful, albeit strange, encounters. With an incomplete manuscript on the side, a paralyzing inability to speak his heart in relationships that require answers from him, and a direct confrontation with cancel culture eating away at him (among other things), Colin’s anxiety eventually bubbles over and changes his life.
Like most of us, Colin is a tragic figure, bearing the burden of past mistakes which keep him from moving forward into the next chapter of his life. His life and encounters invoke metaphysical themes that permeate his mind and affect his decisions as he experiences the world around him.
Examined through the lens of such an accessible, human character, author Alejandro Marron’s grandiose postulations of life’s great questions are digestible and intriguing. As such, Pythia in the Basement is both a good entry-point for novice readers of the genre and a stimulating one for more experienced readers; therefore, I would be glad to recommend this book to its audience.
Though the dialogue suffers at points due to a seeming aversion to contractions, the story’s general wit and introspection make for a pleasant read even with its heavy thematic material. If you are willing to engage the story with an open mind, you’ll be rewarded with thought-provoking ideas that may just make you question your own perspective. That’s a win in my book.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Literary & General Fiction / Psychological Fiction
Print Length: 278 pages
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