Our unnamed heroine, a writer, has been awarded a precious two-week’s residency at the isolated Heinrich Böll house on Achill Island, a real place on Ireland’s west coast. She arrives at the house, exhausted, and falls asleep on the couch. Keegan writes that: “When she woke, she felt the tail end of a dream — a feeling, like silk — disappearing; …”
The house phone starts ringing and the writer, reluctantly, answers it. A man, who identifies himself as a professor of German literature, says he’s standing right outside and that he’s gotten permission to tour the house.
Our writer, like many women, needs more work on her personal boundaries: She puts off this unwanted visitor ’till evening; but she’s not strong enough to refuse him altogether. After she puts the phone down, we’re told that:
“What had begun as a fine day was still a fine day, but had changed; now that she had fixed a time, the day in some way was obliged to proceed in the direction of the German’s coming.”