A lot happened in this short book; it feels much larger in my brain than 108 pages. It’s always a challenge to talk about novellas without giving too much away, but I feel like that’s not going to be the case here. Mapping the Interior is pretty dense with both happenings and themes, despite the deceptively readable prose.
Junior has moved away from the Blackfeet Reservation with his mother and younger brother Dino, after his father’s death. His mother wanted to give the boys a fresh start. He’s now twelve, and one night while awake in the middle of the night, he thinks he sees the ghost of his father dressed as a fancydancer walking the halls of his home, headed for his little brother’s bedroom. The ambiguity of his father’s death and of his afterlife is what fuels this book, just as Junior’s ambiguity over his father’s presence, or lack thereof, also permeates the book. His dad didn’t do much for him in life, and in death Junior mourns what he could have been rather than what he was.
Some really intense stuff happens here (can’t leave a SGJ story without a little gore), and the stakes ramp up unexpectedly, and pretty quickly.
I think this is a story I’m glad that I own, because it will probably reward re-reading.