Bernard Willis was an archivist at work in a residency at Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts when he mysteriously disappeared. Two unnamed people, lovers, find Willis's manuscript-in-progress and decide to prepare it for publication. The editors aver that Willis was attempting to live, and write, in a perpetual state of bewilderment. They invite the reader to consider the mystery of his sudden disappearance.
Part novel, part meditation on the role of reading and language in culture, The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis considers how each of us tries to make sense and meaning in a bewildering world. Aaron Peck's innovative style employs those of a number of genres, from short stories and anecdotes, scholarship and belles lettres, to etymologies and digressions, with little or no paragraph breaks, engaging in topics ranging from contemporary art and architectural theory to politics, friendship, belief and love. Characters—friends, lovers, even the protagonist himself—come and go, quivering, as Flaubert once said of sentences, "like leaves in a forest, all dissimilar in their similarity."