Mapping the Interior – Stephen Graham Jones

Synopsis: Walking through his own house at night, a twelve-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.ย 

The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you’d rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.

“My heart pounded in my chest with what I wanted to call fear but what I know now was actually hope.”

This was my first Stephen Graham Jones, but it certainly won’t be my last. Quite the opposite.. now I want to ram all his books into my skull!

Mapping the Interior is an introspective story dripping in atmosphere. This novella (novelette?) clocks in at just over 100 pages & I had goosebumps throughout the majority of them. Not because it is that frightening.. but because it touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

One night, Junior is standing by the window in his living room when he spots his father. The thing is, Junior’s father is dead. He’s been dead for over eight years. Was he sleepwalking again? This happens often.. the sleepwalking thing, not seeing the dead father thing. Is it a manifestation or a ghost? Is his benevolent father there to watch over the family or is it something more sinister?

Junior’s father died under suspicious circumstances, causing his family to sever ties with the reservation. Junior moves away with his mother & younger brother, Dino. Dino suffers from seizures & is bullied daily. He is struggling developmentally.

Mapping the Interior is a beautifully complex tale told skillfully within a short amount of time. This is Stephen Graham Jones’ exploration on coming-of-age, family, failure, profound loss, disappointment & marginalized cultures. It is something between the possible & the impossible; the haunting & the gut-punchy; the hopeful & the duplicitous.

Ghosts. We all have them.




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