Cover image for The glass hotel : a novel
Title:
The glass hotel : a novel
ISBN:
9780525521143

9780525562948
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
301 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it's the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent's half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: "Why don't you swallow broken glass." Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Copies
Status
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book FICTION MAN 0 1
Searching...

On Order

Library
Copy
Location
Parts
Stillwater Public Library1On Order

Summary

Summary

" The Glass Hotel may be the perfect novel for your survival bunker."
--Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Bustle, Buzzfeed, GoodReads, Houston Chronicle, Writer's Digest, Medium, Washington Independent Review of Books, The Millions, Boston Globe, USA Today, and Women's Day Most Anticipated Book of 2020

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven , an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events-a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby's glass wall: "Why don't you swallow broken glass." High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients' accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan's wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.


Author Notes

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She has written several novels including Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, The Lola Quartet, and Station Eleven. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and Venice Noir. In 2015, her novel, Station Eleven, was on the New York Times bestseller list and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction 2015. In the same year she won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award for science-fiction writing for her novel Statio Eleven.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mandel's wonderful novel (after Station Eleven) follows a brother and sister as they navigate heartache, loneliness, wealth, corruption, drugs, ghosts, and guilt. Settings include British Columbia's coastal wilderness, New York City's fashionable neighborhoods and corporate headquarters, a container ship in international waters, and a South Carolina prison. In 1994, 18-year-old drug-using dropout Paul Smith visits his 13-year-old half-sister, Vincent, in Vancouver. Vincent has just lost her mother and acquired her first video camera. Five years later, in the wilderness north of Vancouver, Vincent tends bar at a luxury hotel where Paul works as the night houseman. Paul leaves after writing on a window in acid marker a message even he doesn't understand. Vincent relocates to the East Coast and what Mandel calls the kingdom of money to play trophy wife for investor Jonathan Alkaitis. When Jonathan's Ponzi scheme collapses, he goes to prison, where his victims' ghosts visit him. Finished with Jonathan and the affluent lifestyle and ignored by her best friend, Vincent takes a job as assistant cook on a container ship. Paul, meanwhile, has set Vincent's old videos to music. The videos have helped Paul, despite a lifelong drug problem, tap into his creative gifts. Using flashbacks, flash-forwards, alternating points-of-view, and alternate realities, Mandel shows the siblings moving in and out of each other's lives, different worlds, and versions of themselves, sometimes closer, sometimes further apart, like a double helix, never quite linking. This ingenious, enthralling novel probes the tenuous yet unbreakable bonds between people and the lasting effects of momentary carelessness. 200,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Mar.)


Booklist Review

Mandel follows her breakout dystopian hit, Station Eleven (2014), with another tale of wanderers whose fates are interconnected, this time by a Ponzi scheme rather than the demise of most of the world's population. Beautiful young bartender Vincent Smith (named for poet Edna St. Vincent Millay) has no illusions about the relationship she enters into with Jonathan Alkaitis, an uber-wealthy investor more than twice her age. Vincent leaves her job at the remote Hotel Caiette to move into Jonathan's mansion in Connecticut and pretend to be his wife, attending dinners with his investors. Mandel reveals early on that Jonathan's business dealings aren't above board, but even with this information front and center, she still manages to build nail-biting tension as things start to go wrong for Jonathan and his associates. Mandel weaves an intricate spider web of a story, connecting the people whom Jonathan and Vincent's lives touch and irrevocably change, from Vincent's feckless brother to the small group of colleagues abetting Jonathan's scheme to the people whose fortunes are decimated by Jonathan's machinations. A gorgeously rendered tragedy.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The phenomenal success of Station Eleven has set high expectations for Mandel's new novel, and both books been optioned for television series.--Kristine Huntley Copyright 2020 Booklist


Guardian Review

Few readers will come to Emily St John Mandel's fifth novel, The Glass Hotel, unaware of her fourth, 2014's Station Eleven, which imagined a world ravaged by a hyper-lethal form of swine flu. That book was always going to cast a shadow over its successor - such is the curse of a career-defining blockbuster. But as we face Covid-19, the strange, masochistic allure of havoc-lit has catapulted Mandel's post-pandemic tale of itinerant Shakespearean actors back into bestseller territory. How better to while away a stint in lockdown than by bending our waking terrors into the most comforting and redemptive of shapes - the narrative arc. A handful of quietly placed clues suggest that The Glass Hotel exists in the same universe as Station Eleven, in a time before the outbreak. The "Georgia Flu" is lurking, but we will never learn if it is days, months, or a year away. Mandel has not penned a ticking-clock prequel; rather, her new novel is a portrait of everyday obliviousness, the machinery of late neoliberalism juddering along with characteristic inequity. This is a tale of Ponzi schemes, not pestilence. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis carries himself with "the tedious confidence of all people with money ... the breezy assumption that no serious harm could come to him". He's the owner of the book's titular hotel, a surreal monolith planted on the northernmost tip of Canada's Vancouver Island, accessible only by boat. It's a pocket of "wilderness-adjacent" extravagance for aspiring plutocrats; an "improbable palace" in that borderless nation, the "Kingdom of Money". Mixing cocktails in the hotel bar is directionless Vincent, a young woman marking time in her remote hometown, a stifling place with one road and "two dead ends". Her best friend drives the hotel boat; her brother, Paul - aspiring composer, recovering addict - sweeps the floors. Vincent has a "very particular gift": she's a lithe social chameleon. When newly widowed Alkaitis orders a drink, Vincent is who he needs her to be. Alkaitis then requests her companionship in exchange for "the freedom to stop thinking about money". The keys to the kingdom are hers, but not for long. The time of plummeting stock prices and collapsing banks is near. The future is restless in The Glass Hotel, impatient and insistent: it interrupts the present to tether consequences to actions, ends to beginnings. Alkaitis, we learn, will die in prison; Vincent will drown. What are we to make of these future echoes? They are not warnings it seems, but hauntings. "There are so many ways to haunt a person," Mandel writes, "or a life." The Glass Hotel is crowded with phantoms: lost mothers; wronged victims; a "ghost fleet" of empty container ships; a beyond-the-grave curse scrawled in acid. In his medium-security cell, unrepentant Alkaitis conjures a spectral "counterlife" so intoxicating the real world loses form, a luxurious dreamscape with no extradition treaty. It's a beguiling conceit: the global financial crisis as a ghost story. As one of Alkaitis's employees reflects of a swindled investor: "It wasn't that she was about to lose everything, it was that she had already lost everything and just didn't know it yet." But Mandel's abiding literary fascination is even more elemental: isn't every moment - coiled with possibilities - its own ghost story? Isn't every life a counterlife? Like Joshua Ferris's And Then We Came to the End, a central section of The Glass Hotel is voiced by a collective workplace "we" - a mea culpa chorus of Alkaitis's underlings. "We had crossed a line, that much was obvious," they tell us, "but it was difficult to say later exactly where that line had been." Mandel is not interested in righteous outrage, she's interested in that illusory line, how it is possible "to both know and not know something". But there's a hallucinatory, fairy-dust sheen to The Glass Hotel that makes the real world cruelties of 2008 feel as remote and otherworldly as the transparently symbolic (and symbolically transparent) hotel. Here is a realm of kingdoms, palaces, and "the shadowlands", which is how Mandel characterises American poverty: "a country located at the edge of an abyss ... a territory without comfort or room for error". The language of allegory can illuminate, but it can also be a form of camouflage. It does both in this novel. With its shattered narrative, the joys of The Glass Hotel are participatory: piecing together the connections and intersections of Mandel's human cartography, a treasure map ripped to pieces. But it is as a spectral sequel to Station Eleven that The Glass Hotel stumbles into poignance, as pre-pandemic fiction. All contemporary novels are now pre-pandemic novels - Covid-19 has scored a line across our culture - but what Mandel captures is the last blissful gasp of complacency, a knowing portrait of the end of unknowing. It's the world we inhabited mere weeks ago, and it still feels so tantalisingly close; our ache for it still too raw to be described as nostalgia. "Do you find yourself sort of secretly hoping that civilisation collapses ... Just so that something will happen?" a friend asks Vincent. Oh, for the freedom of that kind of reckless yearning.


Kirkus Review

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.A strange, subtle, and haunting novel. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Guests at the Hotel Caiette can afford a special reality. They pay top dollar to be "wilderness adjacent"--nestled in the beauty of nature while shielded from its discomforts. Within the "glass and cedar palace" in remote British Columbia, a well-heeled shipping executive avidly describes his work, and the beautiful bartender charms a wealthy guest. Years after those fateful meetings, the woman mysteriously disappears from a container ship in mid-voyage and the former executive has lost his home and savings in a Ponzi scheme. All these events prove inextricably connected, with life-destroying consequences rippling outward as unceasingly as freighter ships traversing their routes. Mandel (Station Eleven) depicts a haunting world in which reality is a bit permeable and events always in flux. Characters inhabit a wide range of states and shades of existence--poverty, sleeplessness, a work shift, incarceration, a fairy tale, beauty, money, privilege, loss of money and privilege--at times seeking the refuge of an alternate reality, the "counter life." With an ideal voice to convey the slightly surreal atmosphere and showcase Mandel's arresting prose, narrator Dylan Moore keeps readers immersed amid shifting time and intersecting vignettes. VERDICT Station Eleven fans and literary fiction listeners will be captivated. Enthusiastically recommended.--Linda Sappenfield, Round Rock P.L., TX


Excerpts

Excerpts

3   Leon Prevant left the lobby at four-thirty a.m., climbed the stairs to his room, and crept into the bed, where his wife was sleeping. Marie didn't wake up. He'd purposefully drunk one whiskey too many with the thought that this might make it possible to fall asleep, but it was as if the graffiti had opened a crack in the night, through which all his fears flooded in. If pressed he might have admitted to Marie that he was worried about money, but worried wasn't strong enough. Leon was afraid. A colleague had told him this place was extraordinary, so he'd booked an extremely expensive room as an anniversary surprise for his wife. His colleague was right, he'd decided immediately. There were fishing and kayaking expeditions, guided hikes into wilderness, live music in the lobby, spectacular food, a wooded path that opened into a forest glade with an outdoor bar and lanterns hung from trees, a heated pool overlooking the tranquil waters of the sound. "It's heavenly," Marie said on their first night. "I'm inclined to agree." He'd sprung for a room with a hot tub on the terrace, and that first night they were out there for at least an hour, sipping champagne with a cool breeze in their faces, the sun setting over the water in a postcard kind of way. He kissed her and tried to convince himself to relax. But relaxation was difficult, because a week after he'd booked this extravagant room and told his wife about it, he'd begun to hear rumors of a pending merger. Leon had survived two mergers and a reorganization, but when he heard the first whispers of this latest restructuring, he was struck by a certainty so strong that it felt like true knowledge: he was going to lose his job. He was fifty-eight years old. He was senior enough to be expensive, and close enough to retirement to be let go without weighing too heavily on anyone's conscience. There was no part of his job that couldn't be performed by younger executives who made less money than he did. Since hearing of the merger he'd lived whole hours without thinking about it, but the nights were harder than the days. He and Marie had just bought a house in South Florida, which they planned to rent out until he retired, with the idea of eventually fleeing New York winters and New York taxes. This seemed to him to be a new beginning, but they'd spent more money on the house than they'd meant to, he had never been very good at saving, and he was aware that he had much less in his retirement accounts than he should. It was six-thirty in the morning before he fell into a fitful sleep.   4 When Walter returned to the lobby the following evening, Leon Prevant was eating dinner at the bar with Jonathan Alkaitis. They'd met a little earlier, in what seemed at the time like a coincidental manner and seemed later like a trap. Leon had been at the bar, eating a salmon burger, alone because Marie was lying down upstairs with a headache. Alkaitis, who was drinking a pint of Guinness two stools down, struck up a conversation with the bartender and then expanded the conversation to include Leon. They were talking about Caiette, which, as it happened, Jonathan Alkaitis knew something about. "I actually own this property," he said to Leon, almost apologetically. "It's hard to get to, but that's what I like about it." "I think I know what you mean," Leon said. He was always looking for conversations, and it was a pleasure to think about something--anything!--other than financial insolvency and unemployment for a moment. "Do you own other hotels?" "Just the one. I mostly work in finance." Alkaitis had a couple of businesses in New York, he said, both of which involved investing other people's money in the stock market for them. He wasn't really taking on new clients these days, but he did on occasion make an exception. The thing about Alkaitis, a woman from Philadelphia wrote some years later, in a victim impact statement that she read aloud at Alkaitis's sentencing hearing, is he made you feel like you were joining a secret club. There was truth in this, Leon had to admit, when he read the transcript, but the other part of the equation was the man himself. What Alkaitis had was presence. He had a voice made for late-night radio, warm and reassuring. He radiated calm. He was a man utterly without bluster, confident but not arrogant, quick to smile at jokes. A steady, low-key, intelligent person, much more interested in listening than in talking about himself. He had that trick--and it was a trick, Leon realized later--of appearing utterly indifferent to what anyone thought of him, and in so doing provoking the opposite anxiety in other people: What does Alkaitis think of me? Later, in the years that he spent replaying this particular evening, Leon remembered a certain desire to impress him. "This is slightly embarrassing," Alkaitis said that night, when they'd left the bar and retired to a quieter corner of the lobby to discuss investments, "but you said you're in shipping, and I realized as you said it that I've only the dimmest idea of what that actually means." Leon smiled. "You're not alone in that. It's a largely invisible industry, but nearly everything you've ever bought traveled over the water." "My made-in-China headphones, and whatnot." "Sure, yes, there's an obvious one, but I really mean almost everything. Everything on and around us. Your socks. Our shoes. My aftershave. This glass in my hand. I could keep going, but I'll spare you." "I'm embarrassed to admit that I never thought about it," Jonathan said. "No one does. You go to the store, you buy a banana, you don't think about the men who piloted the banana through the Panama Canal. Why would you?" Easy now, he told himself. He was aware of a weakness for rhapsodizing on his industry at excessive length. "I have colleagues who resent the general public's ignorance of the industry, but I think the fact that you don't have to think about it proves that the whole system works." "The banana arrives on schedule." Jonathan sipped his drink. "You must develop a kind of sixth sense. Here you are in the world, surrounded by all these objects that arrived by ship. You ever find it distracting, thinking about all those shipping routes, all those points of origin?" "You're only the second person I've ever met who guessed that," Leon said.   The other was a psychic, a college friend of Marie's who'd come into Toronto from Santa Fe, back when Leon was still based in Toronto, and the three of them had had dinner downtown at Saint Tropez, Marie's favorite restaurant in their Toronto years. The psychic--Clarissa, he remembered now-- was friendly and warm. He liked her immediately. He had an impression that psychics must very often be exploited by their friends and passing acquaintances, an impression not dispelled by Marie's reminiscences about all the times she'd asked Clarissa for free advice, so over the course of the evening Leon went elaborately out of his way to avoid asking her anything, until finally, over dessert, curiosity overtook him: Was it ever deafening, he asked her, being in a crowded room? Was it like being in a room filled with radios tuned to overlapping frequencies, a clamor of voices broadcasting the mundane or horrifying details of dozens of lives? Clarissa smiled. "It's like this," she said, gesturing at the room around them, "it's like being in a crowded restaurant. You can tune in to the conversation at the next table, or you can let that become background noise. Like the way you see shipping," she said, and this remained in memory as one of the most delightful conversations Leon had ever had, because he'd never talked with anyone about the way he could tune in and out of shipping, like turning a dial on a radio. When he glanced across the table at Marie, for example: he could see the woman he loved, or he could shift frequencies and see the dress made in the U.K., the shoes made in China, the Italian leather handbag, or shift even further and see the Neptune-Avramidis shipping routes lit up on the map: the dress via Westbound Trans-Atlantic Route 3, the shoes via either the Trans-Pacific Eastbound 7 or the Shanghai-Los Angeles Eastbound Express, etc. Or further still, into the kind of language he'd never speak aloud, not even to Marie: there are tens of thousands of ships at sea at any given moment and he liked to imagine each one as a point of light, converging into rivers of electric brilliance over the night oceans, flowing through the narrow channels of the Suez and Panama Canals, the Strait of Gibraltar, around the edges of continents and out into the oceans, an unceasing movement that drove countries, a secret world that he loved so much.   When Walter walked within earshot of Leon Prevant and Jonathan Alkaitis, some time later, the conversation had shifted from Leon's work to Alkaitis's, from shipping to investment strategies. Walter understood none of it. Finance wasn't his world. He didn't speak the language. Someone on the day shift had covered the graffiti on the glass with reflective tape, an odd silvery streak of mirror on the darkened window. Two American actors were eating dinner at the bar. "He left his first wife for her," Larry said, nodding at them. "Oh?" said Walter, who could not possibly have cared less. Twenty years of working in high-end hotels had cured him of any interest in celebrity. "I wanted to ask you," he said, "just between the two of us, does the new guy seem a little off to you?" Larry glanced theatrically over his shoulder and around the lobby, but Paul was elsewhere, mopping the corridor behind Reception in the heart of the house. "Maybe a little depressed, is all," Larry said. "Not the most sparkling personality I've ever come across." "Did he ask you about arriving guests last night?" "How'd you know? Yeah, asked me when Jonathan Alkaitis was arriving." "And you told him ...?" "Well, you know my eyesight's not great, and I'd only just come on shift. So I told him I wasn't completely sure, but I thought the guy drinking whiskey in the lobby was Alkaitis. Didn't realize my mistake till later. Why?" Larry was a reasonably discreet man, but on the other hand, the staff lived together in the same building in the woods and gossip was a kind of black-market currency. "No reason." "Come on." "I'll tell you later." Walter still didn't understand the motive, as he walked back toward Reception, but there was no doubt in his mind that Paul had committed the act. He glanced around the lobby, but no one seemed to require his attention at that moment, so he slipped through the staff door behind the reception desk. Paul was cleaning the dark window at the end of the hall. "Paul." The night houseman stopped what he was doing, and in his expression, Walter knew that he'd been correct in his suspicions. Paul had a hunted look. "Where'd you get the acid marker?" Walter asked. "Is that something you can just buy at a hardware store, or did you have to make it yourself?" "What are you talking about?" But Paul was a terrible liar. His voice had gone up half an octave. "Why did you want Jonathan Alkaitis to see that disgusting message?" "I don't know what you mean." "This place means something to me," Walter said. "Seeing it defaced like that . . ." It was the like that that bothered him the most, the utter vileness of the message on the glass, but he didn't know how to explain this to Paul without opening a door into his personal life, and the thought of revealing anything remotely personal to this shiftless little creep was untenable. He couldn't finish the sentence. He cleared his throat. "I'd like to give you an opportunity," he said. "Pack up your things and leave on the first boat, and we don't have to get the police involved." "I'm sorry." Paul's voice was a whisper. "I just--" "You just thought you'd deface a hotel window, for the sake of delivering the most vicious, the most deranged--" Walter was sweating. "Why did you even do it?" But Paul had the furtive look of a boy searching for a plausible story, and Walter couldn't stand to listen to another lie that night. "Look, just go," he said. "I don't care why you did it. I don't want to look at you anymore. Put the cleaning supplies away, go back to your room, pack your bags, and tell Melissa that you want a ride to Grace Harbour as quickly as possible. If you're still here at nine a.m., I'll go to Raphael." "You don't understand," Paul said. "I've got all this debt--" "If you needed the job that badly," Walter said, "you probably shouldn't have defaced the window." "You can't even swallow broken glass." "What?" "I mean it's actually physically impossible." "Seriously? That's your defense?" Paul flushed and looked away. "Did you ever think of your sister in all of this?" Walter asked.  "She got you the job interview here, didn't she?" "Vincent had nothing to do with this." "Are you going to leave? I'm in a generous mood and I don't want to embarrass your sister, so I'm giving you a clean exit here, but if you'd prefer a criminal record, then by all means . . ." "No, I'll go." Paul looked down at the cleaning supplies in his hands, as if unsure how they'd landed there. "I'm sorry." "You should go pack before I change my mind." "Thank you," Paul said. 5 But the horror of it. Why don't you swallow broken glass. Why don't you die. Why don't you cast everyone who loves you into perdition. He was thinking about his friend Rob again, forever sixteen, thinking about Rob's mother's face at the funeral. Walter sleep-walked through the rest of his shift and stayed up late to meet with Raphael in the morning. As he passed through the lobby at eight a.m., up past his bedtime and desperate for sleep, he caught sight of Paul down at the end of the pier, loading his duffel bags into the boat. "Good morning," Raphael said when Walter looked into his office. He was bright-eyed and freshly shaved. He and Walter lived in the same building, but in opposite time zones. "I just saw Paul getting on the boat with his worldly belongings," Walter said. Raphael sighed. "I don't know what happened. He came in here this morning with an incoherent story about how much he misses Vancouver, when the kid practically begged me for a change of scenery three months back." "He gave no reason?" "None. We'll start interviewing again. Anything else?" Raphael asked, and Walter, his defenses weakened by exhaustion, understood for the first time that Raphael didn't like him very much. The realization landed with a sad little thud. "No," he said, "thank you. I'll leave you to it." On the walk back to the staff lodge, he found himself wishing that he'd been less angry when he'd spoken with Paul. All these hours later, he was beginning to wonder if he'd missed the point: when Paul said he had debts, did he mean that he needed the job at the hotel, or was he saying that someone had paid him to write the message on the glass? Because none of it actually made sense. It seemed obvious that Paul's message was directed at Alkaitis, but what could Alkaitis possibly mean to him? Leon Prevant and his wife departed that morning, followed two days later by Jonathan Alkaitis. When Walter came in for his shift on the night of Alkaitis's departure, Khalil was working the bar, although it wasn't his usual night: Vincent, he said, had taken a sudden vacation. A day later she called Raphael from Vancouver and told him she'd decided not to come back to the hotel, so someone from Housekeeping boxed up her belongings and put them in storage at the back of the laundry room. The panel of glass was replaced at enormous expense, and the graffiti receded into memory. Spring passed into summer and then the beautiful chaos of the high season, the lobby crowded every night and a temperamental jazz quartet causing drama in the staff lodge when they weren't delighting the guests, the quartet alternating with a pianist whose marijuana habit was tolerated because he could seemingly play any song ever written, the hotel fully booked and the staff almost doubled, Melissa piloting the boat back and forth to Grace Harbour all day and late into the evening. Summer faded into autumn, then the quiet and the dark of the winter months, the rainstorms more frequent, the hotel half-empty, the staff quarters growing quiet with the departure of the seasonal workers. Walter slept through the days and arrived at his shift in the early evenings--the pleasure of long nights in the silent lobby, Larry by the door, Khalil at the bar, storms descending and rising throughout the night--and sometimes joined his colleagues for a meal that was dinner for the night shift and breakfast for the day people, shared a few drinks sometimes with the kitchen staff, listened to jazz alone in his apartment, went for walks in and out of Caiette, ordered books in the mail that he read when he woke in the late afternoons. On a stormy night in spring, Ella Kaspersky checked in. She was a regular at the hotel, a businesswoman from Chicago who liked to come here to escape "all the noise," as she put it, a guest who was mostly notable because Jonathan Alkaitis had made it clear that he didn't want to see her. Walter had no idea why Alkaitis was avoiding Kaspersky and frankly didn't want to know, but when she arrived he did his customary check to make sure Alkaitis hadn't made a last-minute booking. Alkaitis hadn't visited the hotel in some time, he realized, longer than his usual interval between visits. When the lobby was quiet at two a.m., he ran a Google search on Alkaitis and found images from a recent charity fund-raiser, Alkaitis beaming in a tuxedo with a younger woman on his arm. She looked very familiar. Walter enlarged the photo. The woman was Vincent. A glossier version, with an expensive haircut and professional-grade makeup, but it was unmistakably her. She was wearing a metallic gown that must have cost about what she'd made in a month as a bartender here. The caption read Jonathan Alkaitis with his wife, Vincent. Walter looked up from the screen, into the silent lobby. Nothing in his life had changed in the year since Vincent's departure, but this was by his own design and his own desire. Khalil, now the full-time night bartender, was chatting with a couple who'd just arrived. Larry stood by the door with his hands clasped behind his back, eyes half-closed. Walter abandoned his post and walked out into the April night. He hoped Vincent was happy in that foreign country, in whatever strange new life she'd found for herself. He tried to imagine what it might be like to step into Jonathan Alkaitis's life--the money, the houses, the private jet--but it was all incomprehensible to him. The night was clear and cold, moonless but the blaze of stars was overwhelming. Walter wouldn't have imagined, in his previous life in downtown Toronto, that he'd fall in love with a place where the stars were so bright that he could see his shadow on a night with no moon. He wanted nothing that he didn't already have. But when he turned back to the hotel he was blindsided by the memory of the words written on the window a year ago, Why don't you swallow broken glass, the whole unsettling mystery of it. The forest was a mass of undifferentiated shadow. He folded his arms against the chill and returned to the warmth and light of the lobby. Excerpted from The Glass Hotel: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.