There’s a ringing prescience to the book’s philosophy that feels precisely contemporary. Curation is an obligation that’s crept up on us. Isolation and ceaseless data have made caretakers of us all, shut-in keepers of playlists and timelines, quarantined arrangers of meaningless objects. As such, The Caretaker acts as an analogue telling of our virtual predicament.
Arbus takes the narrative into a realm where hallucination, perhaps, a trace of the supernatural, just maybe, and obsession, undoubtedly, are the only keys to the riddle that she, no mean trickster, has conjured up. And it is made even more disorienting by Arbus’s distinctive voice, calm, wry, deadpan amid absurdity, and yet capable of lyricism at unexpected moments.
—The New Criterion
Doon Arbus’s beautiful, moving, original novel does just what we want a novel to do: It creates a fictional world that reflects, illuminates and reveals the ‘real’ world we live in. This wryly funny, subversively philosophical book is brief—yet deep enough to contain humans and objects, love and death, memory and amnesia, oblivion and survival. It generates its own musical score: a phrase of Satie, a few notes of the Well-Tempered Clavier, and then the Beethoven sonata.
Doon Arbus’s debut novel is a kind of mystery—about who we become, what the absent leave us with, and why. Dense, visual, and true, this short book speaks volumes about the theater of the mind, and how the ensuing comedic drama we call life unfolds inside and outside our control. A marvelous new voice.
A spell-binding, intricate and haunting tale of a world-renowned philosopher’s house museum filled with his collection of objects, and the mysterious man who becomes the museum’s caretaker.
—Ulrich Baer, Think About It
For all its wit, The Caretaker is a quite unsettling study of obsession and madness that gradually creeps up on you and makes you complicit with the caretaker at the expense of his more bloodless antagonists because he at least has passion and the courage of his convictions. When I came to the end—which, like all perfect endings, is both surprising and inevitable—and was liberated from this closed, claustrophobic world, I wasn’t quite ready for it. The novel has a grip and once it lets you go, an imprint remains which leaves you with a slightly different gaze on the world around you.
—James Marsh (director of Man on Wire and The Theory of Everything)
No one writes like this anymore. Each sentence is perfect and inevitable, written in a voice—both intimate and formal—that soothes and seduces. The book itself is a ghost, a carrier of stories, a text that holds and gives and shimmers with the lives of Things. Their “charisma.” When I finished the last page, I felt as though every word had been written just for me. I suspect many readers will experience that same glorious, unshakable connection to what is truly a masterpiece.
—Christine Coulson, author of Metropolitan Stories: A Novel
Arbus’s writing is uniformly tight and focused, rendered with a light, amusing touch. The Jamesian quality of her prose extends to the book’s pleasantly gothic atmosphere, reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw…The Caretaker is an enigmatic and necessary book.