You have the IKEA Home Planner open in another tab and you’re dreaming up ways to reconfigure your living room to make more space for books. The protagonist in Barbara Langhorst’s Want(Palimpsest Press) is on the same page – except she’s just accidentally ordered a kitchen online. Read on to find out why this novel is the one you’ll want on your new Billy bookcase.
The annual publication of the IKEA catalogue means that it’s once again the time of year where you pretend to have your life together. You were perfectly fine with your living room carpet, but with the arrival of the muted, blue-hued magazine, suddenly your once-trendy, bright red seems garish and gaudy.It’s time to take control of your life, you say, and you head over to ikea.ca and fill your e-cart with new Allanit lamps, a Rotsund mirror, and just the right tiny flower vases to put on your Eket cube shelves. In the furor of scouring pages, both magazine and online, you almost forget to replace the carpet. With one more click, you have taken control of your home again. You’ve redecorated your life to fit the new you.You forget about climate change and politics. You forget about the ever-looming disasters that are so wildly out of your control…The IKEA catalogue is more inspiring of lifestyle change than New Year’s Day.
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Delphine Almquist, the protagonist of Barbara Langhorst’s debut novel, Want, is plagued with the compulsion to redecorate, a behaviour she inherited courtesy of her mother. Home decoration and renovation is a constant thread in this novel, as Delphine is constantly tweaking her isolated hobby farm. She uses distraction to grapple with a lineage of mental illness and the looming dread of a total, global apocalypse. Langhorst’s novel shows the therapeutic nature of decorating, but she juxtaposes this therapeutic nature with every day, domestic disturbances, like the financial consequences of redecoration. While the world swirls around Delphine, she seeks to affirm her identity in her presentation.The novel makes one lesson quite clear: if identity revolves around the material, the material revolves around trend. So when you read the IKEA catalogue, remember that next year’s catalogue will make you feel the same way Delphine does – that wanting to control what you can, not only on the walls around you but in all that’s within them.* * *Thanks to Abigail at Palimpsest Press for this clever comparison. Curl up on your Ektorp couch with a copy of Want, available now. For more books like other books, click here.