Set in New York –
Lena has an unique an unusual job – she is a transcriptionist – a scribe if you will who is set the task of typing audio messages to enable others to read them later.
She filters the words through her fingers as she types, the news they carry dripping steadily on to the screen in front of her. Soon Lena finds herself drowned by the sea of words and information. They flow through her fingers until one day when she finds that she just can’t let go of one story – a woman who she met briefly only a few days earlier has been found mauled in the lions cage at the zoo.
Lena decides that she has to take this story and not let it slip through her fingers but to do something with it. But she is up against some pretty high obstacles – not to mention working in a room that no one who works in the building even seems able to find –
No one can find it. That’s the first thing. The Recording Room is on the eleventh floor, at the end of a rat-hued hallway that some workers at the newspaper have never seen; they give up on the ancient elevator, which makes only local stops with loud creaks of protest. Like New Yorkers who refuse to venture above Fourteenth Street, there are newspaper workers who refuse to go above the fourth floor for fear of being lost forever if they leave the well-lit newsroom for dark floors unknown.
Interestingly this novel comes from an author who used to work as a transcriptionist herself and so much of the book comes across as very authentic. Particularly when you consider the message and overall tone of the book since Amy Rowland’s life could have been not to different from that of Lena in some ways.
As if to mimic the cut-throat world of journalism, the writing is at times like breaking news – short and snappy and at other times like a feature piece with vivid descriptions of the workplace and ethics at play. Changing paces is this way is clever and makes it evokes the hustle and bustle of a newsroom and the personalities of those who work there.
I don’t want to say much more about it since it is the disovery of what happens and the question of ethics and voice in a newsroom that are the main themes of this book.
Out in May, you will be transported a New York newsroom and hear the voice of a single transcriptionist.
A unique premise and a subtle look at language, journalism and the meaning of all of it.