Colleen is almost 50. She has very little to show for her life except a string of bad and failed relationships, contempt for her mentally and physically-ailing mother, and “friends” who will no longer return her calls. That, and Colleen is an alcoholic.
She was not in control and knew herself not to be in control. She was at that point in the evening when she saw quite clearly things that were happening that she did not want to happen. She was blurting out every little thing, and no one was more interested than she to hear what they might be. She feared she was making a fool of herself, but the train was hurtling down the track, the brakes completely blown.
Character Development & Pacing
The way that Davis writes The Empty Room makes Colleen and her life seem eerily real. It is written in the third person, which is highly effective given Colleen’s plight. The Empty Room takes place over only one long and hopeless day of Colleen’s life, with necessary flashbacks to the past, giving the reader background and context. The thoughts that Colleen has are so primal, uncensored, and unguarded, I felt like they were my own thoughts in my head. When Colleen is drunk and makes a fool out of herself, I would just cringe because it was so uncomfortable for me to even read.
The Empty Room has a lot of detail written into the pages, but it does not slow down the plot. Colleen can spend pages describing her perfume bottles, or her ride down in the elevator of her apartment, yet every word seems to captivate.
Despite a lot of problems, failures, and embarrassments in the past, The Empty Room describes the moment in time that is Colleen’s rock bottom. It was difficult to read about her helpless spiral into despair, and The Empty Room practically had me sympathy-suicidal by the end. Davis was really able to capture what the desperation and loneliness of an addiction must feel like, despite what looks only like self-destruction to us on the outside.