Fiction. The house is haunted but nobody's home. Only us chickens, standing still as sculpture while Loulou, the immortal Pomeranian, & Georgette, Magritte's guardian angel, take us on a tour of the asylum. The rooms in Kathleen Rooney's THE LISTENING ROOM are always listening, always watching. The walls have ears. The tears have eyes. Sometimes the screams are silent. Sometimes the silence is deafening. Stark & hard-edged as the paintings themselves, this novel in poems and flashes inhabits a world much like our own--suspended in a glazed animation of doomed hope & hopeful doom, where the virtual is realer than reality, where the muse & the bemused are confused, where the funny is wedded to the sad in unholy matrimony. "Mystery," Magritte wrote late in life, "is not one of the possibilities of reality. Mystery is what is absolutely necessary for reality to exist." Take a load off. Escape is not an option. There are no windows & no doors, only holes through which the sky or an oncoming train pours in. The stairs dead end. The clouds are voodoo dolls, sweet enough to eat. But who, Georgette & Loulou forever wonder, will devour whom?