Scott Hobbs Bourne Room Windows
The easiest thing to say is that this book is amazing. From Scott Bourne's "Black Box" columns in Slap Magazine, to his video parts and more recent poetry books, the man has shown a serious dedication to quality across a variety of media. A Room With No Windows is Bourne's first novel and one that is fully worth the decade of anticipation that preceded its publication. Bourne notes in the introduction that he writes to release himself from shame. To this end, Bourne casts himself the main character in a story that is as impressive in its introspection as in its illumination of other people and places. With alcohol as a "seasoning for sin," a single man explores the differences between love and sex while coming to understand San Francisco's geography based on the different neighborhoods where he wakes up after going home with women. He makes these beds when he leaves them, seeks a cup of coffee and a park, then wanders back to the Webster Street apartment where he resides throughout the novel. There is a beautiful passage about installing a door that provides slightly more light into Bourne's windowless room.
Bourne proceeds to detail the various hustles and camaraderie that ensue when a group of housemates is determined to live life without "real jobs." One roommate's interview for a valet position leads to the creation of the illegitimate but thoroughly respectable San Francisco Valet company. One night on the job, Bourne ends up driving a tipsy woman in a rare vehicle back to her palace that is the only house in San Francisco that watches the sun rise over the Bay to the east. This married woman seeks sex and companionship that her absent husband cannot provide, so Bourne accompanies her to dinners, ballets and sleepovers, through which he provides us consistently astute social and romantic analysis. That Bourne leaves her after realizing the love she still holds for her husband is indicative of the high standard to which Bourne holds himself and the confusion in which he finds himself mired.
Bourne has mentioned his admiration of Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller, both writers noted for their eroticism. A Room With No Windows features sexual writing on par with these or any other authors. Once he leaves the married woman, his next serious girlfriend is a working orphan who offers Scott a complete love that he alternates between accepting and rejecting, with plenty of sex as he contemplates. "It was the filthiest of deeds we did that freed the human soul from the restraints of society, for it was society that created the wall that made nature perverse and these deeds need not be denied." There are many promising and happy passages that leave the reader longing to embody the character, but the romantic and fraternal situations built on unofficial and incomplete understandings crumble in tragic fashion as the reader suffers at a helpless remove. Bourne escapes to Paris at the end of this book, where readers will be privileged if Bourne creates as magnificent of a work about his next decade as A Room With No Windows is a testament to a young man's twenties.