Asterios Polyp is a man haunted by the searing embers of his past; just ask the narrator, Ignazio, his still-born twin. Introduced looking broken and disheveled, Asterios lies alone on his king sized bed meant for two. He fidgets with his zippo, sounds of feminine ecstasy emanating from a television set its picture just out of frame, when a clap of thunder sparks the plot. It also sparks a fire in his apartment building. So it goes that on his 50th birthday, Asterios watches from out in the rain as all the mementos of his past go up in flames and he flees. He takes a wad of soggy $10 bills out of his wallet and purchases a greyhound ticket asking “how far would this take me?” The answer is Apogee.
Formerly a renowned “paper architect,” an architect whose designs are lauded but never constructed, Asterios develops a humble life in Apogee. He tends to automobiles as a mechanic and rents the spare room in his boss’s house. However, he is still haunted by the linear outline of his dead brother’s ghost and he still wrestles with the demons of his past. His arrogance; he belittled his students and cruelly mocked them. His indifference; Asterios would abide the diminutive little conductor’s snide innuendoes towards his wife. His loss; Hana, his wife, could no longer tolerate his “holier than thou” attitude nor his unfaltering failure to defend her from the conductor’s subtle but vile advances. She leaves Asterios, burning him more than any blazing fire could. Flashbacks of Asterios’ previous life unveil his self-destructive behavior towards others. It is fitting that he was renowned as a paper architect because it becomes apparent it is not in his nature to create meaningful relationships so much as break others down. Apogee, meaning the highest point in the development of something, is the perfect place for Asterios to begin a new life because it is there that he begins to rebuild himself from the top down.