Daniel Kitson gives good hermit, always has, and William Booth is one of his best. A writer holed up in his warehouse-cum-office, he’s spent the best part of 12 years honing a story about a lonely woman conversing with a mouse that blinks back. Has she struck up a genuine friendship or is she essentially just talking to herself?
Is William? Working late to miss another social gathering, his phone rings – a wrong number, but a familiar voice. Billy. You clock what’s going on straight off, but if Kitson takes a long time to reveal as much, well, he’s Kitson. Bagginess is part of his brilliance. When he rambles, you just let him lead.
Full of mundane minutiae, MOUSE’s wider meanings are myriad. A look at the way we retreat into ourselves and our obsessions with age, it’s also a consideration of perfectionism and unrealised possibilities. With a phone at its centre, it reflects mediated communication: its unreality, its echo chambers and, as with the blinking mouse, the impossibility of verifying who’s on the other end. That goes for real life too, of course.
True, the form tends towards monotony—one voice bouncing back off itself—and, as so often, Kitson risks romanticising his loveable loner, even as he winds to the conclusion that happiness means saying 'hello'. Still, stained with life’s sadness, it’s a beguiling piece; one that blinks back at us, then tips us a wink.