An Unconsoled Comptometer


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LAURA by ROBERT AICKMAN

“‘You do look unhappy’, she said. ‘Come and sit by me.’”

An introverted young man who started off in a “big branch” of a bank with ‘comptometers and outsize typewriters’ that I recall from working in places like that myself at the turn of the 1960s into the early 1970s. Which makes an irony, I guess, of the pet sematary outside the house where he first met Laura (surname known, but withheld, possibly Armenian?) a woman in her white boots that vanished up into her dress, a woman he fancies and who vanishes and comes back sporadically  into the man’s life,  a man who found it hard otherwise to form relationships.  Until he meets her for the last time and  she takes him down an endless corridor in an European building while he juggles with carrying a decanter of red wine and two glasses  … a mode of activity and type of building that inspired much in Ishiguro’s great novel ‘The Unconsoled’, I say.  (And someone named Laura Aikman (sic) now seems to have a Wikipedia of her own!)

POSSIBLE SPOILER: On this final meeting, the man is taken along the endless corridor by Laura as if she is his guardian angel, eventually to a door in the wall, the space behind it arguably turning out to be his own pet grave? A space with “rotting woodwork, and huge worms, and soiled rags on the floor.” But what are the soiled rags, I ask?
Any ‘mock-steak’ notwithstanding.

All my reviews of Aickman: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/robert-aickman/

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