It is rare that anyone visits the Recording Room in person, but Russell, a reporter, does so occasionally. He seems interested in Lena, but is surprised to eventually realize that her name is not Carol, which he has been calling her for some time. It is significant that she answers to Carol and doesn't feel it is important to correct Russell, almost as if she really is only a "conduit."
Then Lena discovers a story about a blind woman mauled to death by a lion at the New York Zoo. It dawns on Lena that this is the woman she sat beside on the bus and with whom she had a brief conversation. The story grips her; it is personal because she met and conversed with the blind woman. Lena becomes obsessed with finding out more about her. The more she learns, the more she sees a connection with her own life.
This investigation into the life of the blind woman may sound suspenseful, but somehow, it isn't. What it does, however, is give Lena a chance to pay attention to the direction her life has taken, to evaluate, and to make some decisions.
The Transcriptionist is a debut novel that " asks probing questions journalism and ethics"; that discusses the declines newspapers have suffered as a result of online news sources; and that examines the effects of isolation and complacency.
It is a strange little book. I found it interesting, but not gripping, and yet, I don't think it is a book I will soon forget.
An ARC from Algonquin.
Literary Fiction. 2014. 246 pages.