I liked this authors story in "Granta" enough that I ordered two of her novels. They're both from the 90's, and definitely have that feel to them. I seems that these days she's concentrating on journalism and film criticism. While the first of her books I read, 'Suckers' is a vampire tale, and 'Stiff Lips' is more of a ghost story, the voice of the protagonist is remarkably similar: that of a young woman who tries to present herself in a good light, but whom you come to realize is truly a horrible, utterly self-centered person. (With friends like these, who needs enemies?)
It works - and if I hadn't recently read both, it wouldn't have bothered me, but I ended up trying to figure out if Dora (from Suckers) and Clare (this novel's narrator) were really the same person.
That said, I really thought this was an above-average haunted house story.
Clare is utterly jealous of her bff & frenemy Sophie's life. Her job, her friends, her fashion... even the neighborhood she lives in. When a neighbor suggests that Clare take over the empty upstairs apartment in Sophie's building, she jumps on the chance. But rumors abound about things that may have happened in the house...suicides, drunken deaths at parties... Phantom music from a 60's rock band that used to live in the house is heard, and Sophie's new boyfriend may not even be a living man... Gradually, the tension builds, and something has eventually got to give.
Definitely recommended for fans of spooky, supernatural stories with a modern edge.
(I got a particular kick out of the fact that the band in the book was called The Drunken Boats - I kept thinking of the NYC band Drunken Boat that used to play at CBs all the time. I know Billson was going back to the Rimbaud poem... but still.)