Look at Dilitory Domiciles Always to Insure Accuracy
NORTHEAST is an illustrated novel that marries prose with imagery
to deepen the portrait of its main character. In lieu of painted canvas, intermittent black and
white drawings counterpoint narrative story-telling, building upon Gertrude Stein’s
association of the novel with a visual medium.
NORTHEAST is an upstairs downstairs tale, narrated by a young man who leaves
architecture school to become the live-in butler to one of Boston’s original Harvard educated
Brahmin families. Rather than erect a building for the future, he defaults to serving an elderly couple in all manner of love and
humiliation. Spending his youth at their service, he accompanies them to seaside cottages,
country clubs, and one notorious Park Avenue apartment, in which the rituals of a
cloistered, antediluvian life go on.
In the final chapter of the novel, a scene takes place before a large minimal canvas,
described by the narrator as a confounding white abyss in an otherwise baroque room of
European antiques. Looking at the painting against the ornate wallpaper of a traditional
gentleman’s library, he considers its meaning. Like him, is it doomed
to a life of beautiful servitude?
About the Design: The book cover is a modified Social Register. Opening frontispiece and
thirty original illustrations are by Suzy Spence.
Suzy Spence © 2013. All Rights Reserved