An offhand reference in one of Arthur Rimbaud's poems to a fictional hotel "built in the chaos of ice and of the polar night," provides the occasion for Gilbert Sorrentino's imaginative meditation on letters and language. Each chapter serves as an opportunity for the author to expand on thoughts and images suggested by a letter of the alphabet, as well as to reflect upon the workings of the imagination, particularly of Arthur Rimbaud and William Carlos Williams.
"Sorrentino can write with a wit that S.J. Perelman might envy … and with sustained irony, seemingly effortless invention, and unfaltering verbal control."—Washington Post