“The house is haunted but nobody’s home. Only us chickens, standing still as sculpture while Loulou, the immortal Pomeranian, & Georgette, Magritte’s guardian angel, take us on a tour of the asylum. The rooms in Kathleen Rooney’s The Listening Room are always listening, always watching. The walls have ears. The tears have eyes. Sometimes the screams are silent. Sometimes the silence is deafening. Stark & hard-edged as the paintings themselves, this novel in poems and flashes inhabits a world much like our own — suspended in a glazed animation of doomed hope & hopeful doom, where the virtual is realer than reality, where the muse & the bemused are confused, where the funny is wedded to the sad in unholy matrimony. ‘Mystery,’ Magritte wrote late in life, ‘is not one of the possibilities of reality. Mystery is what is absolutely necessary for reality to exist.’ Take a load off. Escape is not an option. There are no windows & no doors, only holes through which the sky or an oncoming train pours in. The stairs dead end. The clouds are voodoo dolls, sweet enough to eat. But who, Georgette & Loulou forever wonder, will devour whom?”
—Eric Plattner, co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings
“Kathleen Rooney’s exquisite novelette must be the most Magrittian way to engage with the life, love, Loulou(s), and oeuvre of René Magritte—from his ‘uxorious’ devotion to his wife Georgette to the ‘traitorous pancreas’ that killed him. Magritte once said that ‘Every single thing which we see conceals something else,’ but The Listening Room sees all, unveiling the real-life characters behind Magritte’s many veils. Each ekphrastic account reveals a quotidian tale of art and love just as so many of Magritte’s parted curtains reveal a cloud-filled sky. To read Rooney’s flashes is to wander within the wonder of a Magritte painting.”
—Kelcey Parker Ervick, author of The Bitter Life of Bozena Nemcova
A founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, Kathleen Rooney is the author, most recently, of the novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin’s Press, 2017). With Eric Plattner, she is the co-editor of Rene Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Married to the writer, Martin Seay, she lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul University.