Book Review: ‘Calibration 74’

Cover of Calibration 74. A circle is within a rectangle, both painted in red

Calibration 74: An Experimental Novella by William F. Aicher

If a traditional book’s narrative could be akin to a painting of a street scene, then this book would be akin to an abstract painting.

Or perhaps it’s more of a collage, with items glued to a canvas. There’s a variety of items: library card, photo of a cat, pages from a diary, a screenshot from the “Lost” TV show, pages from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Let’s say the collage is in an art gallery. The card on the wall next to the collage states its title and the artist and the year of creation.

However, no explanation is given for the collage. So we, as the viewer of the collage, will look at the mixture of items and draw our own conclusions for the artwork’s meaning. Actually, the meaning that each of us sees in it.

That’s the same with Calibration 74. The narrator looks for clues around him, clues based in numbers. He believes in a door leading to a place that’s different than this world. Another part of the multiverse. This door is possibly underneath his house, so he pulls up carpeting and hardwood flooring, then breaks the concrete pad.

The search isn’t over there. Ah, we’ve only just begun. The narrator goes on a journey, one clue leading to the next, in his exploration for the door. And the narrator attaches a kind of logic to each clue. Some of those connections might not make sense to us readers, but William Aicher portions out the story so we see how the connections make sense to the narrator.

I found the book to be a wild journey. A maze built of the narrator’s interpretations of the world, mentions about the narrator’s past, and references to culture. If you’re looking for meaning, isn’t that maze what you have to navigate? We’re collages of those interpretations, memories, cultural influences.

If you’re open to taking a recess from stories with traditional narratives, I recommend this book. I really enjoyed the trip through it. The ambiguity sparked my thinking to craft my own meaning from it.

The book is for sale on Amazon.

The author’s website is here.