The Chambermaid
by Marcus Aurelio

"I was just a visitor in the strange hallway of this unreckoned lunacy."

Martin, a young man who likes heavy metal and pretty girls, is sent to a mental asylum after a schizophrenic episode where he attacks a bystander on the street. He makes a few friends at the ward, notably Gus and Sally Anne, who help him acclimate to life at the asylum. But it seems that even in the ward he can’t escape his troubles or his vices, as his crush on Mary, one of the “chambermaids,” causes a chain reaction that ends in disaster.

Wacky, emotional, and oddly entertaining, this novel flirts with concepts of madness, love, and identity while weaving a tale of youthful revolt. Occasionally referencing real-world people and real-world events, the story succeeds in creating both a grounded and fantastical depiction of the mini-society that forms within a mental asylum. The narrative is reminiscent of other novels such as Girl, Interrupted and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where the narrator is aware of his mental state and the facility in which he resides.

Martin’s monologue is repetitive, using the same phrases or terms to establish his lunacy and create a poetic, almost-raving voice that reads almost like polished stream of consciousness writing. The dialogue, although outlandish and erratic at times, adds to and highlights the insanity that the narrator describes. Martin, as a character and narrator, is interesting because he seems both detached and invested in the everyday happenings around him. He is clearly driven by his ego, but also by finding a sense of belonging, and the clash between these two highlights his struggle in accepting his fate.

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