The instant of disappearance

Three works, and a single moment in Jordan Tannahill’s mind

The entirety of the debut novel from the Ottawa-born, U.K.-based multidisciplinary artist Jordan Tannahill transpires in an instant, an instant in which an Ottawa-born, U.K.-based multidisciplinary artist named Jordan Tannahill hovers in the doorway of his terminally ill mother’s bedroom, beholding her inert form, uncertain as to whether she’s alive or dead. It is 11:04 a.m., January 21, 2017, already inauspicious for being the morning after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, and this anxiogenic, ambiguity-laden—indeed, liminal—moment Jordan inhabits triggers a flood of correlative musings and a little under three decades and 304 pages of memories in more or less chronological order.

Though Monica may be dead or dying, it isn’t her life that flashes across Liminal’s pages but, rather, Jordan’s. Aside from a thumbnail biographical sketch near the novel’s start, Monica’s trajectory as a single...