Feb 9 2015

Melanie Tem


tem man on the ceiling


I don’t recall what made me pick up The Man on the Ceiling, by Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem.

I really do wish I could remember.  I had not read any other book by either of them, I think.  And on paper, The Man on the Ceiling sounds like the sort of book that would not have attracted me.  Not so much a novel as a collection of possibly-fictional events and vivid symbol-laden scenes, interwoven with meditations on family, and parenthood, and life and death and love.

Possibly someone whose opinion I respect mentioned it in a blog post, or possibly Amazon’s algorithm saw something in my purchase patterns and suggested it.

Regardless: I do remember clearly that once I had experimentally read a passage or two (probably via the Amazon Look Inside feature), I immediately knew it was a book I had to have.   Whatever sentences I read, they struck a chord.  I bought it.

I think I read the book three times, straight through.  Got to the end, went right back to the beginning.  And did it again.

There was a period when I bought copies and gave them to people — to whoever I thought might respond to it.  And some did — and some did not, and looked at me with a bit of perplexity.

It was (and remains) very hard for me explain exactly why it grabbed me.   But it’s a book that is both frightening and reassuring; and without fail it moves me to tears each time I read it.

Melanie Tem passed away today.   I wish we could stop losing people.

Here’s the announcement in LOCUS.

“If you love someone, they leave you.  But if you don’t love someone, they leave you, too.  So your choice isn’t between loving and losing but only between loving and not loving.”

The Man on the Ceiling, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem