Corridor Nine explores the dubious proposition of parenthood and the possibility of love in the face of human insufficiency.
Two worlds coexist in the novel Corridor Nine: the domestic life of Bernadette Macomber, housewife and mother of four, and the afterlife space of “Corridor Nine,” where her father, Fabian Macomber, finds himself following his suicide.
Having severed relations with her father seven years prior, Bernie’s tortured conscience will not let her sleep. Now she returns to her parent’s home to find evidence of his insanity and fiasco as a parent. Bernadette hunts for absolution, accompanied by her Anubis-esque dog Angus, as the constellation of her four children spirals increasingly out of control. Fabian Macomber meanwhile searches for a loophole through what he sees as the punishing bureaucracy of personal evolution. Seeking the promised land of Valhalla, or some suitable equivalent, Fabian is hindered and abetted by the demon/angel Bune, as he undergoes a re-education period prior to another incarnation.
Unbeknownst to Fabian and Bernie, their lives irrevocably interweave. Events in Corridor Nine trigger the excavation of memories in the world of Bernadette, and their stories twine each other like the strands of a rope. The stubborn attachment between parent and child resists release. Only an inevitable and final encounter can set them free. Corridor Nine explores the dubious proposition of parenthood, its bonds and improbabilities, and the possibility of love in the face of human insufficiency.
Strangely, life continues, even after your father gasses himself with a tank of helium rented from Toys “R” Us. Bernadette carries on doing the things she has always done, but while the rest of the world continues to live in the golden sunlight of early fall, she descends into a grey and steely universe. She must walk through this harsh gravity alone. She doesn’t know why she feels so much grief. In the end she decides that their separation in life had been illusory, that the pain she feels resulted from the severing of some invisible cable of kinship.
ON THE CHARACTER BUNE
The face was long and serious; multiple wrinkles v'ing out from between the beetling grey brows. A furrow runs out from between each squinting golden eye to the corners of the somber slit of a mouth. A hooked nose. Grey hair sprouts away from a receding widow's peak. Fabian stares perplexed. The angel's demeanor reminds him of some hardbitten, smoky detective.
“Sophie Stocking’s Corridor Nine is a brilliant exploration of guilt and remorse, the conflicted emotions elicited by the death of a father who was both angel and gorgon. Blackly comic and hilariously revelatory, this story faces head-on the challenges of parental nourishment and neglect. Combining domestic conflagration with powerful enlightenment, it performs a song of generous forgiveness. A mesmerizing novel.”
- Aritha van Herk
On the writing process
I wrote this book in English 598 at the University of Calgary, and arrived, a somewhat shell-shocked recovering housewife who’d lost access to her words. Providentially, the class taught by Aritha van Herk remyelinated my verbal brain, and probably made me think harder than I’ve ever thought before. Thank you Aritha, for your generous encouragement, and the rigour and dedication of your teaching. I was lucky indeed to walk into your classroom.