As the California borderland newspaper where they work prepares to close, three reporters are oddly given assignments to return to stories they’ve covered before—each one surprisingly personal. The first assignment takes reporter Aaron Klinsman and photographer Rita Valdez to an abandoned motel room where the mirrors are draped with towels, bits of black tape cover the doorknobs, and the perfect trace of a woman’s body is imprinted on the bed sheets. From this sexually charged beginning—on land his family used to own—Klinsman, Rita, and their colleague, Oscar Medem understand that they are supposed to uncover something. They just don’t know what.
Following the moonlit paths their assignments reveal through the bars, factories and complex streets of Tijuana and Otay, haunted by the femicides that have spread westward from Juarez, the reporters become more intimately entwined. Tracing the images they uncover, and those they cause and leave behind, they soon realize that every move they make is under surveillance. Beyond this, it seems their private lives and even their memories are being reconstructed by others.
Panopticon is a novel of dreamlike appearances and almost supernatural memories, a world of hidden watchers that evokes the dark recognition of just how little we can protect even our most private moments. It is a shadowy, erotic novel only slightly speculative that opens into the world we all now occupy.
$25.95 / $29.95 CAN | Fiction Hardcover | 6x9 | 384 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60953-002-0 | Carton Quantity: 20
Klinsman tried his managing editor again but got no answer. He held her recorded voice to his ear, turned steadily, full circle, to examine the room. The doorknobs for the bathroom and the closet had black squares on them. The mirror on the dresser was draped with a towel. He tried the bathroom light and it didn’t work. In the dimness of the shallow room he could see that the bulbs had been removed from the vanity light, with that mirror, too, covered by a towel. A toothbrush had been left beside the sink. Back in the main room, on the floor beside the dresser, he found a paper shopping bag containing all the lightbulbs, arranged on the bottom, neat as eggs.
He crouched on his heels and took his first picture, capturing the lightbulbs at the bottom of the bag. The double bed was made, but the thin cover, like milk skin, was wrinkled with the pattern left by a napping body, someone primly resting, gathering strength for a night out. With one arm outstretched, Klinsman held his camera above the bed and took a picture of the imprint. It was difficult to get the camera right above the pattern because the person who had been there had rested just off center. The pattern was intricate, swirled but contained like a fingerprint.
It was a woman. He could tell from the shape of the hips. Her hands had been clasped together over her stomach because he could see where her elbows had rested, little cups in the cloth on either side of her form. The cover was that sensitive, like a kind of photo plate, he thought, some silvery glass. Her heels, too, had left matching egg cups in the cloth. Klinsman took three shots.
He saw that it was time to leave for his evening assignment. He pressed the button on his camera and rotated a careful 360 degrees to get a panorama of the room. He lingered briefly on the blouse covering the TV screen but made sure he had enough memory in his camera left for the Luchadors in case he needed pictures for reference. The Review would send a good photographer to the Luchador event. Rita, he hoped, because she could be fun at that kind of assignment, make it not seem like work.