Review - Watch the Doors as They Close by Karen Lillis

By Joey Pizzolato

One of the perks that comes with this lovely gig is that I get to discover new writers, publishers, and books that I may have not stumbled upon in my usual reading circles.  Last month, a New York based writer found me, and requested I review her novella, Watch the Doors as They Close, from the Spuyten Duyvil Novella Series. 

Watch the Doors as They Close is a woman’s account, in diary form, of her ex-lover Anselm and their relationship together.  Taking place in the latter half of December 2003, the author attempts to organize her confused feelings toward a man who seemed so important to her.   The book reads as if you found the diary on a table in a local coffee shop and stuffed it into your bag—it is at once both intimate and secretive, giving way to a feeling of voyeurism coupled with childish shame for opening such a personal door into the narrator’s life. 

As a writer of fiction and as a reader, I’m always hesitant when I find a story or book written in diary form; but, in this case, I found myself surprised and delighted at the way the story unfolded.  The form lends itself the bigger thematic question at hand: how well do we really know those that are closest to us—our lovers, our friends, our neighbors, and even ourselves?

As you make your way through the pages of this short novella, it becomes clear to both the female narrator and the reader that she knows little about Anselm, no matter how much time they spent together.  Her understanding of Anselm is predicated on stories he told her about his life, and any and all conclusions she draws from said stories are merely hearsay, and not all that credible at that:

“Now, I think I may be mixing up a few stories, or maybe I’m just putting together stories that were told to me about the same trip at different times.  But if I’m correct, then age 18 was the trip to D.C. where Anselm saw black people for the first time…”

As an emotionally shallow and deeply depressed person, Anselm closes himself off to the narrator, leaving her to draw her own conclusions about his life, his relationships, and his feelings.  But, while Anselm is the central figure in the novella, the narrator is the character that changes—albeit subtly as Christmas approaches.  

And it is through the narrator that we as readers begin to change as well, thinking of those close to us, wondering how well we really know all the people that we might share a meal with, a bed with, or a secret with.  And while Lillis offers no hard and fast rule for us to abide by, we are given the tools to make our own decisions, and the resolve to accept the things we have no control over and cannot change. 

You can get Watch the Doors as They Close in ebook format for $0.99 here or the paperback edition for $10.00 here.   




Joey Pizzolato is our reviews / interviews editor.  He's a writer, photographer, storyteller, and globe-trotter.  His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of journals, websites, and magazines.  Once upon a time, his series of photographs, "Scribbling into the Ether" was shown at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.  He lives in Austin, TX, and currently serves as the literary editor of Composite {Arts Magazine}. (url: ), along with this joint.

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