Thursday, April 28, 2005


I'm only a quarter in and there are no frights as yet, except for the exact recreations of chain bookstore employment horrors: inept, judgmental management; frustrating customers; cantankerous and worrisome elevators; bratty children at story-time; ridiculous rules based on lawsuits at other stores; strange employees who explain their vague jokes after no one gets them; public restrooms; bleary-eyed 3am trips to the store for false alarms; pornography stashed in the children's section, etc.

The Overnight is bringing it all back, down to the paging system, the punchclock error sheets, the dank breakroom with the sinkful of days-old dirty mugs, and the inventory procedures! I can't wait to get to the reason for the title, which frightens me in and of itself. There's nothing more awful than a retail overnight.

I love Campbell's prose (here describing an employee getting lunch on break):

The walls and ceiling of the supermarket are as colourless as the befogged spotlights. Unspecific muffled music hangs in the air while silent personnel unload cartons in the white aisles. Wilf takes a moss-green plastic basket to the rudimentary delicatessen section and bears a pack of sushi to the nearest till. The checkout girl, who wears an overall like a dentist's and has eyes weighed down by mascara, hardly glances at him even when she passes him the sushi in a bag so flimsy it's sibilant...