Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Set This House In Order (novel)

Recommended Posts

Hey guys,


when I joined this community the tulpa topic reminded my instandly of Matt Ruff's novel Set This House In Order.


This novel is about Andrew (Andy) Gage. Since he had a troubled past (tortures by his stepfather) he got a MPS. But he learned to live with his 'souls': he created an imaginary house (with a garden, a lake ...) for them. In this imaginary world there is a pulpit, whoever goes there has the control over the body-'puppet'.


This book itself deals about him trying to get along with Penny. She also has MPS but doesn't know it yet, so that she gets blackouts when other souls possess the body.


I read it several years ago, so I don't remember much. What I liked about this story was Ruff's empathic humor. The protagonists often find themselves in funny and awkward situations. But although them being 'freaks' he doesn't make fun OF them. Also he managed to surprise me with 2-3 well set up twists.


Anyone else read this book?





Water can be used to cook foods such as noodles. (Wikipedia)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I read the sample chapters. I think there's some good bits in there. The pulpit idea, for one, is pretty genius. There's a house inside the narrator's head - We'd call it a wonderland. Then there's this passage dealing with the difference between a priori and a posteriori knowledge, which struck a chord with me:



This is one of those metaphysical issues that people who aren’t multiple have a hard time grasping. Obviously, in creating me, my father had given me a great deal of practical knowledge. I came out of the lake knowing how to speak. I had a concept of the world and at least some of what was in it. I knew what dogs, snowflakes, and ferryboats were before I ever saw a real dog, snowflake, or ferryboat. So it may seem natural to ask, if my father could give me all that, why couldn’t he also give me the know-how to be a champion restocker? For that matter, why couldn’t he give me Aunt Sam’s understanding of French, Seferis’s martial-arts prowess, and Adam’s knack for lie-detecting?


I wish I knew, because there are times when all of those skills would come in handy. Of course I can always have Aunt Sam translate for me, Seferis stands ready to defend the body at a moment’s notice, and Adam hangs out in the pulpit calling bullshit on people whether I ask him to or not, but none of that is quite as good as having the abilities myself. For one thing, help from other souls isn’t free—they expect favors in return, and not all of their wishes are easy to grant. It would be much simpler, and cheaper, if I could just borrow their talents somehow.


The reason why such borrowing isn’t possible, my father thinks, has to do with the difference between information and experience. If you’d asked me on the day I was born to tell you what rain is, I’d have given you the dictionary definition. Ask me today and I’ll still give you the dictionary definition—but as I’m giving it, I’ll think of that moment on overcast mornings when you have to decide whether an umbrella is worth taking with you (the answer, in these parts, usually being yes). Or I’ll think of the upside-down world reflected in puddles, or the awful tacky feeling of a drenched wool sweater, or the smell of wet leaves in Lake Sammamish State Park. Experience hasn’t changed the form of my answer much, but the meaning of my answer has been utterly transformed.


Memory makes the difference. There are facts that everyone knows, but memories, and the feelings they evoke, are unique to individual souls. Memories can be described, but can never truly be shared; and knowledge that is bound up in especially strong memories can’t be shared either. Like Aunt Sam’s knowledge of French: it’s more than just grammar and vocabulary, it’s the memory of her high school teacher Mr. Canivet, the first adult she ever knew who didn’t betray her in some way, who always treated her kindly and never hurt her. I never met Mr. Canivet, and can’t love him the way Aunt Sam does. Any feelings I have about him are purely secondhand, and the things Aunt Sam learned from him will always be secondhand to me too.



The ownership bit was strange to me. Why not share everything? Having 1/16th portion of ownership of a CD player seems so small as to be borderline pedantic and after a point I wouldn't have even bothered.


It was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing this, Murphy.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're welcome. I'm glad you liked it.

As I said, I read it several years ago so I don't remember much. But I enjoyed reading this novel.

Water can be used to cook foods such as noodles. (Wikipedia)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...