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Mapping the Interior

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Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.

The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you'd rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.

131 pages, ebook

First published June 20, 2017

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About the author

Stephen Graham Jones

223 books8,340 followers
Stephen Graham Jones is the NYT bestselling author of twenty-five or thirty books. He really likes werewolves and slashers. Favorite novels change daily, but Valis and Love Medicine and Lonesome Dove and It and The Things They Carried are all usually up there somewhere. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado. It's a big change from the West Texas he grew up in. He's married with a couple kids, and probably one too many trucks.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,043 reviews
Profile Image for Char.
1,680 reviews1,554 followers
June 11, 2017
Mapping the Interior touched me in a way that's hard to define.

A young man, missing and thinking of the father who died before he could really be known, believes he saw his father coming through a doorway. From there, we learn more about this young man, his family, Native American culture, and superstitions.

In a way, this could be interpreted as a ghost story. In another interpretation it could be thought of a coming of age story-with perhaps a little psychological horror on the side. However it's interpreted, whatever genre it's labeled, the fact remains that it moves the reader. It's a powerful piece of work.

I'm not going to go further into the plot, because I think the reader should discover it for themselves. I know that it brought me back to certain points in my childhood and how I felt about things, but I can't seem to adequately explain how it made me feel. Mapping the Interior resonated deeply with me and I'll have to leave it at that. I give it my highest recommendation.

You can order a copy here: Mapping the Interior

*Thanks to Tor and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this novella, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
March 31, 2023
This is a very haunting and atmospheric tale that I think many readers will interpret differently, and feel a vast range of emotions. This is ownvoices for the Native representations, and this novella stars a young boy, living on a reservation with his family, who is seeing his dead father's ghost. And his father's ghost is very different than the man our main characters remembers.

But this is a story about grief, and loss, and cycles of becoming our parents when sometimes we feel like we would do anything to not become them. This is a story about identity and heritage and how those things can feel so close and so far away at the same time. And this is just an unsettling tale about loss and the things we will do to cope with losing people we love.

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Content and Trigger Warnings for loss of a loved one, grief depiction, self-inflicted pain, seizures, animal violence, bullying, abuse, gore, and caution for emetophobia.
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
917 reviews282 followers
June 23, 2017
You know when you read a book and you know that at least 50% of the symbolism, comparisons, philosophy and psychology went over your head? That's what Mapping the Interior felt like to me. I know there is obviously a lot of importance and density to this novella but ask me to explain it or pull out snippets and I struggle knowing I missed a lot of somethings I can't articulate.

"There are rules, I know. Not knowing them doesn't mean they don't apply to you.

This is a story of a Native American boy whose mourning a lost father, coping with leaving the reserve, trying to protect his damaged little brother and be the man of the house for his mom. It's a sad story and one I have heard variations of from other Natives in Canada many times. Having attended a junior high school where we had reserve kids it was always obvious that us "city kids" (as they called us) had it pretty darn good. Even those who didn't have it so good we're still better off in comparison. So very sad and yet so true.

"...like the same stupid person is trying life after life until he gets it right at last."
Mapping the Interior is about the cycle of shame, loss and how you are destined to be your fathers son whether you want to be or not.
And while, again, I'm not sure I understood all the nuances of the book I'm glad I read it. If only for a reminder, in the year that Canada celebrates 150 years as a nation, that we built this nation on top of others existing culture and life. Be it right or wrong at the time it happened, and given we can't change that, we should at least remember and reach a hand out to help break the cycle and provide opportunities for those children and adults who are stuck in a life of poverty and helplessness.

It's difficult to give literature like this a rating. It almost feels inappropriate to rate it. Like I can't put a value on something I can't entirely understand. So I will give four stars because it's an important story told in this novella, but the deep metaphorical overlay of the story leaves me feeling inadequate and doesn't make its point in an easily accessible way.

To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,794 followers
May 11, 2018
I'm going to attempt to write this review after *just* finishing this story but just know, it killed me. I'm dead.
So I had a bookstagram post lined up today with some books that are nominated for the Shirley Jackson award 2017.
Mapping the Interior is nominated for the novella award. I was arranging the books for the photo when I decided that I wanted to read it before I posted it.
I'm so glad I did. This is what I like to lovingly call a "gut punch".
SGJ pulls you into this 12 year old boy's head space effortlessly. Being an avid reader of the horror genre, my particular sweet spot is for stories narrated by young boys on the cusp of manhood. There's just a layer of emotional investment for me (being a mother of two boys-one grown and one 12 years old right now).
Junior is being raised by his mother, a widow, who lives outside of the Indian reservation to "save her boys from drowning"<--- just read it to get that. Junior's brother, Dino, has special needs.
I mean, KILL ME NOW.
I was already in tears by the time the story got rolling 20ish pages into this short novella.
The world stopped at least twice while I was reading and I don't think I was breathing.
Now that it's over and I'm digesting everything I just read, I can still feel SGJ pulling on my heart strings and it HURTS.
It hurts BAAAAD.
I loved these 50 some odd pages as much as I love just about anything. It's full of everything that makes me tick as a reader. Symbolism, foreshadowing, suspense, tension, fear, concern and an emotional tidal wave that sucks you out to sea and spits you out.
I'm thankful for my little journey today, even though I'm a little worse for wear. And I'm *really* thankful for the ending. That redemption was hoped for.
I hope this is our Shirley Jackson winner. Fully deserved.
Profile Image for LTJ.
125 reviews65 followers
November 25, 2022
“Mapping the Interior” by Stephen Graham Jones starts out pretty interesting as I enjoyed learning about all sorts of Indian culture. I liked all the references to that as I learned a lot from them as it was a slow burn of a novella at first.

Now, the thing is, I went into this thinking it would be what I’m used to when it comes to his style of writing. You know, incredibly scary situations, events, in-depth character development, and everything else in between. Instead, this felt more like an emotional read about family, Indian culture, losing a family member that meant a lot to you, and just trying to cope with that kind of pain.

This felt more like a paranormal/supernatural kind of story than full-on horror, which is more of what I enjoy. Regardless, this was a very unique and interesting read that had its moments but for me, got a bit confusing and dragged on with things that just didn’t make much sense to me as they happened.

I believe this was probably written that way to leave it to interpretation by readers. I don’t mind that but prefer straightforward writing about horror and not so much a dark fantasy that deals with the topics I mentioned. As usual, Graham Jones is a fantastic writer but as I said, I prefer scarier stories that keep me up at night. Not so much emotional adventures such as this one.

I give “Mapping the Interior” by Stephen Graham Jones a 3/5 as it just didn’t really do it for me but his writing style is and always has been fantastic. I enjoyed all the Indian culture references as well as an overall interesting story but it just didn’t connect with me since I wanted a lot more horror and scarier situations. Either way, it’s not a terrible story or anything, it just wasn’t for me and as I always say, reading is and forever will be subjective.

Some readers will absolutely love this novella and others not so much. Regardless, I still genuinely enjoy his work and will continue reading what he’s written as well as anything new that comes out in the future. He’s that great and I’m glad I read this novella but in the grand scheme of things, it just didn’t do it for me and that’s okay. Onto the next one!
Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 36 books441 followers
March 20, 2021
I first read Mapping the Interior about four years ago and didn't much care for it at the time due to the narrator's voice and sentence construction. This weekend I was given a chance to reread this novella for an upcoming episode of Staring Into The Abyss, a podcast I co-host in which our author guest chooses a favorite story by another author to discuss; this book is Shane Hawk's choice and I'm glad I was able to revisit this piece.

I'm not sure if it's my being in a better mood or clearer headspace, or having gotten on a few more years as a parent, or working a bit more with my own issues with my parents and some of those psychic scars that've been left behind, but I found myself a hell of a lot more receptive to Mapping the Interior this second time around. Maybe, too, it's having read more of Stephen Graham Jones's work in the intervening years and having a better understanding now than I did then of his voice and style. The dude really is a masterful storyteller, and his talents are stronger here than I had first realized. Again, not sure if it was a mood issue or having had a certain expectation for this book, but whatever had gone wrong for me back in 2017, things clicked a hell of a lot more for me in 2021.

Jones's writing style is certainly unique here, and it captures Junior's voice in a particular way that's honest to the character himself. Maybe knowing what style the author was aiming for helped me out more this second time around. Or maybe I was able to key in more on the coming-of-age component and a child's yearning for a lost father and the mythologizing of a figure that was largely a stranger, the way kids build up an image of their parents before they learn the ugly truth that mom and dad are really just people and terribly, sometimes tragically, flawed, and sometimes monstrously so.

Anyway, this book hit harder for me and I found myself more willfully opening up to it, and more receptive to the points I think Jones's was trying to get across. I'm taking away my previous two-star rating and knocking it up to four. This was a good read, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Hawk has to say about it when we meet in the Abyss.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,189 followers
May 16, 2021
3.5 Stars
More literary than traditionally scary, this novella was well written and emotionally complex. This story had some excellent own voices diverse representation with a Native American family at the center of the narrative.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
671 reviews4,286 followers
January 7, 2018
"In death, he had become what he never could in life. And now he was back."

While walking through his house late one night, a fifteen-year old boy thinks he sees his long-dead father stepping through a doorway. What follows is an exploration of this young boy, his family, and Native American culture.

I didn’t love this, nor did I hate it – I guess I’m just quite ambivalent about it. This is a really short novella and quite easy to just race through in one sitting. It did have a couple of unsettling or tense moments, and I liked the idea behind it, but the actual writing itself put me off at times. The sentences are quite choppy, which will sometimes work for me, but other times it will just irritate me – this was one of those times.

Mapping the Interior was a breath of fresh of air with regards to the Native American aspect, I’ve never really read any books before that explore Native American culture or superstition so that was really interesting and unique. It also felt quite raw and personal, with the protagonist and his brother, who is being bullied, coming across as particularly likeable. I also enjoyed how the story just kept going down routes that I hadn’t anticipated, although I feel like a lot of the meaning behind the story or the themes represented just went right over my head, perhaps I’d have enjoyed it more if I had picked up on those.

Overall, this is a pretty original “ghost story”, if you can even categorise it as that. I just wish I had understood it more. It wouldn’t put me off reading more from Stephen Graham Jones though!
Profile Image for Brandon Baker.
Author 14 books4,528 followers
February 22, 2023
Wow. The ending is a bit rushed, but man this one hits like a truck!! I don’t even really know how to describe it, but it’s definitely one of the more unique “haunting” stories I’ve read.

It’s told in Jones’ trademark voice, and was so haunting, emotional, and weird. It’ll stick with me for a while.

*this definitely falls into the category of “no plot just vibes” imo, so just a heads up in case that kind of storytelling is not for you.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,198 reviews3,672 followers
April 15, 2022
Haunting, heart-breaking and disturbing, Mapping the Interior is a searing literary horror novella about generational trauma and identity. Our main character is an indigenous boy who is 12 the first time he sees his dead father. He is living with his mom and mentally disabled brother as they fight to survive the violence that invades their lives.

This subverts the “Indian burial ground” trope in interesting ways and explores how we cope with trauma as children only to eventually pass it on. It offers glimpses of how the characters wish they could reclaim their Native heritage, and the challenges that stand in their way. The arc of the story is ultimately a tragic one, leaving the reader and the characters wishing for what might have been. For a story that’s just under 100 pages there is a lot here that could be dissected and discussed. Excellent.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,172 reviews8,375 followers
July 1, 2022
Amazing! Such a powerful story and so unique. That’s my favorite thing about Stephen Graham Jones’s books: they’re all incredibly special. Guaranteed you’d never read anything like this before. And he’s so consistent in his ability to churn out good writing, strong characters, and a solid story. This one was not as ‘horror’ focused as other ones I’ve read from him, so if you’re looking for a harrowing story about generational trauma and dealing with a parent passing away when your young, this one does it beautifully.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,971 reviews1,982 followers
October 4, 2020
Real Rating: 4.75* of five

Is this the real life? Or is it just fantasy? (Thank you, Queen, for the eternal ear-worm.) If this is just fantasy, be damned good and grateful you're not able to escape from reality.
To sleepwalk is to be inhabited, yes, but not by something else, so much. What you’re inhabited by, what’s kicking one foot in front of the other, it’s yourself. It doesn’t make sense, but I don’t think it’s under any real compulsion to, finally. If anything, being inhabited by yourself like that, what it tells you is that there’s a real you squirming down inside you, trying all through the day to pull up to the surface, look out. But it can only get that done when your defenses are down. When you’re sleeping.

A twelve year old isn't exactly a kid, isn't a teen yet, can't quite be anything because nothing...literally no thing...is stable, permanent, fully itself in his head. And we all know that Reality is just a shared fantasy. At least, all of us whose lives have changed because impossible, fantastic, unreal things have happened to us.
I figured that’s maybe what had happened to me the night before—my feet had been asleep but I’d walked on them anyway, into some other . . . not plane, I don’t think, but like a shade over, or deeper, or shallower, where I could see more than I could otherwise.
There was a line of glare in the dead television screen from the lamp and I watched it, blinking as little possible, because as soon as that line of light broke, that was going to mean something had passed between me and it. And, if it came from the right, that meant Dad was done with fixing Dino. And if it came from the left, that meant he was just getting started.

Make no mistake, this story will not leave you unchanged. It might, if you're a particular kind of person, leave you alone with memories you didn't much want to believe were still there. It could, for a different kind of person, be terrifying and strange to mentally see a dead person walking through a room.
Was that I was supposed to do, to save me and Mom? Leave Dino like an offering? Trade him for both of us? None of the cops on my shows would ever do that. Even for the worst criminal. Because of justice. Because of what’s right.
...he was looking across the room like an animal, right into my soul. His eyes shone, not with light but with a kind of wet darkness. The mouth too—no, the lips. And curling up from them was smoke.

You won't know which you are until you read these hundred-plus pages. Which you need to do.
Because—I had to say it, just to myself—because he’d been feeding on Dino, I was pretty sure. The wet lips. The empty eyes. Dino’s seizures had started before I’d seen Dad walking across the living room, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t been making that trip for three or four weeks already, then, did it?

Still here? Go get this story! Scoot!

(But, no matter what, don't do this:
I’d never smoked—you need your lungs if you dance—but after that night, I kind of understood why Mom always had. It makes you feel like you have some control. You know it’s bad for you, but you’re doing it on purpose, too. You’re breathing that in of your own volition, because you want to.

When you don’t have control of anything else, when a car can just go cartwheeling off into the horizon, then to even have just a little bit of control, it can feel good. Especially if you hold that smoke in for a long time, only let it out bit by bit.
Profile Image for Sarah.
683 reviews158 followers
December 17, 2019
This is my first experience with Stephen Graham Jones, and I’m really sort of sorry for it. I wish I had started reading his work sooner. Mapping the Interior is a story about a boy who is being haunted by the ghost of his father. It’s a quick story, and the plot really is that straightforward. It can be read in just a couple hours.

The prose is easy to read but also had a really strong sense of voice, which I loved. It held a rhythm and cadence that felt unique to Jones. This is a horror story, and it’s a slow burn, at least as far as a novella can be slow. At first, the ghost just seems like a benevolent spirit, watching over his sons, but after a dangerous encounter with the neighbor’s dogs, we know that’s not quite what’s happening. (Content Warnings: violence against animals.)

The ending snuck up on me, and I wasn’t at all prepared for it. It’s disturbing, not necessarily scary. There are a couple flashes of horror between the beginning and the end, but it wasn’t anything that felt so horrific I couldn’t hand it off to a friend to read. But then the ending came and I had to put the book down, and stop, and digest, and think about it, and think about it some more. My initial reaction was that I didn’t like the ending at all. It was a little ambiguous. It makes you think twice about our heroic protagonist. It seems to renege on the initial conclusions we’ve drawn.

If you’re wondering why I was raving about Jones all last week, it’s because this book stuck with me long after I had set it down. It may be with me for awhile yet. I’ve been putting off this review because I’m still not 100% sure how I felt about it.

If I had one critique, it’s that Mapping the Interior often felt literary: metaphorical and symbolic and allegorical. But I was never quite able to grasp the meaning or the message behind it all.
Profile Image for Richard.
998 reviews382 followers
June 20, 2017
This elegiac but dragging new novella by Stephen Graham Jones features a haunting in the way that I believe it would actually occur. Not with translucent, floating apparitions banging on walls, levitating over you while you sleep, or chasing you down the halls of your house, but a haunting by something much more personal, quiet, and understated the way it is here.

Jones uses weaves together elements of horror, superstition, family conflict, and Native American culture and lore to tell a coming of age story about a young boy searching for ways to connect with his dead father, who has begun to visit him and his brother late at night. In many horror books, the haunting is an external thing, a disturbance that our main character has to overcome. But here, I believe that the haunting is more interior, more a product of Junior's insecurities, fears, and desire for memories and closure than anything else. And to overcome it he has to overcome something within himself.

I do feel like it could've been a little more efficient in it's storytelling though. It feels extra-wordy and bloated and dulled the experience a bit. It would've been much more memorable if it was focused a bit more in the delivery.

Big ups to Netgalley and Tor Books for the Advance Reader Copy in exchange for this honest review.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,803 reviews794 followers
October 2, 2017
While I did enjoy this short story, I must admit that I'm sure that about 75% of the meaning behind it escaped me. But despite not understanding all the nuances of it, I'm still glad that I read it.

It was definitely creepy and gave me chills from head to toe in certain parts. The author is excellent at drawing you in and making you feel the terror that the main character is feeling.

I also really enjoyed the fact that it was based on Native American culture and myth, it's something I've very rarely come across in other books and so this was a real treat in that aspect.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,267 reviews229 followers
March 5, 2018
Stephen Graham Jones writes stories that connect to the heart of people. I'm not, in any way, similar to the protagonist here, and yet - he expresses something universal.

It's horror, and definitely horrifying, but it's through the lens of that horror that we see the world stripped down to the basic truths that unite us all: you protect your family, and sometimes that means from each other. There are lines that shouldn't be crossed - and everyone has something that will push them over that line.

Update: Stephen Graham Jones just won the Superior Achievement in Long Fiction from the Bram Stoker Awards, for this novel. Huge congratulations!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,738 reviews5,279 followers
July 11, 2022
I was twelve the first time I saw my dead father cross from the kitchen doorway to the hall that led back to the utility room.

I've reached a point in my life where I buy print copies of SGJ titles whenever possible, because I already know ahead of time that I'm going to highlight the hell out of it, just as I did with this one. Half of my copy of this little story is highlighted because there's something about this author's writing that mesmerizes me from the very first page and doesn't let go, and Mapping the Interior was no exception.

Mapping the Interior isn't your average ghost story: in this, we follow a teen boy who's seeing his late father's ghost, but the spirit's motives are unclear at first. Is he visiting to watch his boys grow up? Is he seeking out closure for unfinished business? Or is there something darker at play here?

This novella packs such a powerful punch, and in so few pages! It's an atmospheric, immensely eerie horror tale, but it's also a look at Native experiences, generational trauma, and the endless absences that grief creates. Junior and his younger brother Dino are impossible not to fall in love with, which created such a high-stakes, emotional reading experience for me.

There's something about SGJ's way as a natural storyteller that makes every story feel like sitting at a campfire, listening to the most incredulous tales, hanging on every word — and, as always, I walk away already eager for the next one.

Representation: the narrator and his family are Native American

Content warnings for:

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919 reviews255 followers
June 24, 2020
The printed edition of this book has an exceptionally misleading back-cover blurb (which even begins with describing the narrator only as "a fifteen-year-old," instead the many-times stated twelve/thirteen year old he is, which very much threw off my grasp of the pacing) but luckily it's a strong enough story to beat the confusion and warrant a second reading at the very least.
Shiver-making and creeping and shadow-dark.

Also that ending is...
Profile Image for Library of a Viking.
181 reviews2,999 followers
January 28, 2023
What did I just read?

I was in the mood for something short (current read is 1500 pages) and I saw Merphy Napier recommend this novella. I read it last night and I am not sure if I was too tired but this was just so odd. The premise is great but the plot structure and prose made this a very confusing read.

Based on my enjoyment then I can't give this more than 2 stars. However, I can see myself enjoying it much more on a reread since it seems like one of those books which gets richer on each read.
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews326 followers
October 8, 2017
There is a blurb on the front cover from Paul Tremblay it says "Emotionally raw, disturbing, creepy, and brilliant. You will not be unmoved." In order to understand my 2.5 rating I have to break down this blurb.

Emotionally raw. Okay, the book is emotional. It's about a twelve year old boy who is convinced that his dead father has come back to life to fix things and be a family again. Junior our main character has a fierce love toward his mother and little brother. His brother Dino, is mentally handicapped in some way. We, the readers, know that he suffers from seizures and that he has a learning disability. We also know that the boys' mother is fully committed to her children and only want whats best for them. The family is full of sorrow, worry and fear at the beginning of this novella.

Disturbing. It's disturbing in the sense that the stereotypical characteristics of a Native American or Indian is the focal point of the story. There is domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism and murder. Is this really what most Indians have to live with in their daily lives? Poverty, living pay check to pay check on the reservations, while the children get to expect a poor education and school fights?

Creepy. Well.... that is personal opinion. Is it creepy that Junior saw his dead father come back to life, roaming his new house? It is.... what I find more creepy is the way Junior felt it was his job to take care of his family at twelve. It was far creepier that he had to deal with very grown up things in a short amount of time. That no one cared that the neighbor disappeared. That no one cared that a grown up beat the crap out of a child. That no one cared that his little brother who had special needs was being picked on and bullied and abused by his fellow peers. That is what I found creepy, not the partial supernatural bits of this story.

Lastly brilliant. This may have been brilliant if it wasn't advertised as horror or scary. It would have been more brilliant if I would have known this was a contemporary novella with a bit of magical realism. It would have been brilliant if I read this book in a literature class and had someone well versed in Native American culture and family trauma to dissect and discuss the symbolism found in its pages. I don't understand the reason behind this story. I don't understand the point.

I am giving this story 2.5 stars because I just didn't get it.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews157k followers
June 21, 2017
This is a creepy Native American horror novella from one of the most inventive writers working today! A teenage boy wakes in the night to see his father going through a doorway. There’s a problem: his father is dead, having died under mysterious circumstances before his family left the reservation. Still, he follows him through the doorway, only to discover the house is much bigger than he thought. And if he goes the wrong way, he will find things that were better off hidden. Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn!

Backlist bump: After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...
Profile Image for Richard Thomas.
Author 96 books650 followers
January 6, 2018
I know Stephen is an acquired voice, but if this story doesn't cut you to the core, you might already be dead. Beautiful, haunting, and so very original, this is a story filled with heartache, loss, family, love, and the dead coming back to do things both kind and unspeakable. Loved it.
Profile Image for Jerry Jose.
362 reviews61 followers
June 16, 2018
It might been the cultural differences or my general aversion to stories that suggest eventual ordained endings, I didn't like the book much. Even had to google to see what a tetherball pole was. Still, I must admit enjoying the writing, at least parts of it.

Mapping the interior is branded as a horror story; and with the opening sentence where a twelve year old boy sees his dead father crossing the kitchen, it definitely felt so at start. But, from there on it moved into realms I didn't sign up for, through the pov of a Native American kid, like cultural anxiety, loss, insecurity, poverty and much more in symbols and allegories. Story circles around a single mom and her two kids, and them or rather the elder kid making peace with the loss of family's sole provider, his dad. Book's running teenage monologue kept a soft horror narrative throughout. The lack of father figure and subaltern life had kept Junior, our protagonist, in an aggravated yet pacifist identity crisis. Like how casted out he felt in a land that once belonged to his ancestors, and how helpless he was in break out of that anxiety. ‘Dirt’ was a repeating element in this theme; the usage of ‘Modular House’ against Trailer was also a fitting allegory to his relationship with the land he has historical right of both blood and soil, yet can't seem to root in. Author gracefully captured the post-colonial mind set through Junior’s monologue, like how he, being an Indian kid, kept seeing himself as this latent warrior inside, waiting to be unleashed. And usage of unreliability and weirdness felt fitting towards this cause.

I enjoyed mapping the interior part, Junior's search diary and inferences, his relationship with his mom and little Dino. And the inner voice that longed for an older version of himself to save his family. I enjoyed how his conscious world was conveyed, especially sentences such as "...like you're staring America down across the centuries." But when the story transitioned into horrors of life and its sad acceptance from its unreliable setting, I found myself frustrated. Soon the nonchalance in violence, death and other disturbances started to feel very discomforting. And with the final element of being ones father’s son or being stuck in a plight that is irreversible by default, I had to part ways completely.

Maybe I wasn't able to transit from the initial setting of the book to its finale. Maybe I shouldn't have approached this as a weird lit at all. Still, I guess I would always be the wrong kind of Indian for understanding the nuances.
Profile Image for Mindi.
860 reviews274 followers
April 4, 2018
This is my first time reading Stephen Graham Jones, and I can tell you right now, it won't be the last.

The day I found something, that would mean that my nighttime ramblings, they had purpose. Otherwise, I was just broken, right? Otherwise, I was just a toy waking up in the night, bumping into walls.

This is definitely one complex little novella. Junior is a 12-year-old Native American who is convinced that he sees his dead father one night walking past a doorway in their home.

Never having really known his father, Junior is desperate for his ghost to come back and help him save his little brother, Dino, who is having seizures and is developmentally challenged. Dino is bullied every day on the bus to school, and Junior is fed up with the way the other kids treat his little brother. Their mother left the reservation after their father died, and the other kids at school are cruel and relentless.

What follows is a story that isn't really horror, but more of a coming of age tale about a boy who wants to know his deceased father so badly that he seemingly manifests his ghost. A number of odd and unexplainable things happen to Junior during the time that he believes he is seeing his father, and he starts to think that instead of helping his family, his father is actually feeding off Dino in some way in order to become real again.

I like how Jones writes in language that sounds authentic for a 12-year-old boy. The sentences are a bit disjointed and clipped, and it sounds exactly like how you would expect Junior to think and speak. Jones packs a lot into such a slim novella, and leaves you with plenty to think about, and no definitive answers. I like stories that are open to interpretation, and this is definitely a very moving story that is wide open to interpretation. I really enjoyed this strange and touching tale.
Profile Image for Trzcionka.
709 reviews69 followers
October 29, 2022
Nie planowałam czytać tego tytułu, ale jak się okazało, że książka ma mniej jak 100 stron, a ja chciałam się dowiedzieć czy to autor dla mnie to się zdecydowałam.
No cóż. Kaplica. Zupełnie nie moja bajka. Styl pisania jakiś kanciasty, mało płynny i przyjemny. Ciężko było się skupić i wciągnąć. Sama fabuła nie pomaga. Historia opowiedziana jest z perspektywy dziecka (nie przepadam) i albo jest o niczym, albo nie wiadomo o czym. Domyślam się, że książka ma jakieś drugie dno, przesłanie, którego nie zrozumiałam, ale w mojej ocenie - skoro autor nie umie tego podać w formie jasnej dla wszystkich to coś poszło nie tak. Historia była na tyle kiepska, że nawet nie zachęca do tego by się zastanawiać lub szukać odpowiedzi czym jest to drugie dno.
Nie wiem czy to był horror, czy thriller czy może jednak powieść psychologiczna z nadprzyrodzonymi elementami. Najbardziej to drugie, jeśli już. Na pewno nie miała żadnego klimatu. Nie działo się w niej nic ciekawego (postać ojca była ciekawa, ale ten wątek - z potencjałem - został przedstawiony zupełnie inaczej niż można oczekiwać). Drugą połowę ze 100(!) stron czytałam już jednym okiem.
Odradzam, chyba że ktoś lubi takie mało interesujące i mało zrozumiałe tytuły. Nie bardzo kumam dlaczego akurat MAG wydaje takie książki. Bardziej pasowałaby do Vespera.
Profile Image for Plagued by Visions.
201 reviews559 followers
May 27, 2022
SGJ once more beautifully showcases ghosts and ugly emotion that live in mundane detritus, agonizing with immense spiritual weight under trailer homes and in old toys, in a tantalizing meeting between the celestial and the secular.

I love how his stories feel so maddeningly real, down to the dull respite that follows meeting something cruel and monstrous. His characters feel real in their clumsiness and doubt, and like all good horror yarns, their tales are spun from doubt and unanswered details. Not for everyone, but definitely for me.
Profile Image for Lezlie The Nerdy Narrative.
443 reviews442 followers
November 10, 2021
"That's how you talk about dead people, though, especially dead Indians. It's all about squandered potential, not actual accomplishments."

Mapping the Interior was my next piece I chose to read by Stephen Graham Jones. The first piece I read of his was The Only Good Indians in January 2021, and I've been blazing through his works ever since. Not once has this author disappointed me - each piece has been so unique unto itself. While the genre (so far of what I've read) has been horror, the way the story had told has always changed. Literary horror at its finest and I take such pleasure in seeing what SGJ is going to educate me on in every underlying theme he places in his stories.

This story is about a teenage Native American boy named Junior. Junior's father died under questionable circumstances when he and his brother were very young and as a result, their mother took the boys and got off the reservation. The small family was very poor, with the mother working tiring hours to put a roof over their heads. She wasn't around much to see how her boys were bullied and terrorized by the other children - not for being poor, but for being different - for being Native Americans. It was such a tragic existence.

One night, Junior wakes up from one of his sleepwalking episodes and sees a figure - his father - walking from one side of the hall into another room in full "fancydancer" dress. Junior turns inward to explore why his father was there - why now, so many years after his death - and for what purpose? To haunt? To protect? It was an absolute page turner as we experience the supernatural events with Junior and the journey he takes to discover the meaning of it all.

This novella holds a much larger story inside its pages....just like the interior of Junior's house...
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