Love Hotel by Jane Unrue

Paperback, 208 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (March 2015)
Language: English
Selected by Barbara Epler

“Jane Unrue writes like nobody else.” —Barbara Epler

The Love Hotel is both a novel and a poem, where the stanzas are also pages. The narrator and a couple form a mysterious love triangle, and two stories unfold in parallel to the primary storyline. Jane Unrue currently teaches at Harvard. Her work is experimental and focuses on morphing the fictional time of memory into her own ideas of space and time.


Day 2

Immediately striking was the silence
no faint music
low lighting inducing a feeling of 
One morning a man and his wife were working in the hay.
I felt none of what I had imagined feeling before I left my apartment building
none of what I felt when I got on the train.

Encased in frosted glass marked by a placard indicating no sign in requirements was the reception desk. The room selection panel resided in a dim corridor indicated by a freestanding sign to the left of the reception desk. As the guidebook explained some room selection panels display colour photographs amenities the prices peak off peak. This was just a grid of numbered buttons lit ones vacant not too many vacants. Press it stick your card key falls card pops means time has come to leave behind the lobby.
I took the elevator
sweet perfume entwined in smoky men’s cologne

On the train I imagined that I was the woman sitting across from me. I have no memory of what this woman looked like what she was wearing what possessions she had with her on the train.

Right back into the elevator.
The man told his wife to climb up on the stack of hay. 
After an unproductive stop at the room selection panel I slid my key under the reception desk window. Excuse me this room seems to be missing I said. A form appeared behind the frosted glass. I looked all over two but it’s not there I said.
The sound of sandy bottom shoes. Another key beneath the window.
So there’s tile back there behind the reception desk I told myself.
New key in hand I passed the room selection corridor again.
Dark carpeting out here
the elevator closing
with an even darker pattern conveying a message that eyes might peek from
underneath the pattern in the hope of catching someone’s falling gaze.


Jane Unrue directs the Scholars at Risk Program at Harvard University, which provides fellowships and sanctuary for persecuted scholars, writers and intellectuals. 

  • Love Hotel