Thursday, August 10, 2017

What is David Burr Gerrard reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Burr Gerrard, author of The Epiphany Machine.

The entry begins:
I was asked at a Q&A for my new novel The Epiphany Machine recently why I write speculative fiction rather than more strictly realistic fiction. My answer was that I find the world so strange that I can only see it clearly if I look at from a strange angle. And seeing the world from the strange angles other see it is the primary reason I read. (Partially for this reason, I’m not sure the distinction between realistic fiction and speculative fiction holds. There is only fiction that succeeds or fails at finding a particular angle that allows you to see the world more clearly, if only for the briefest instant.)

Eugene Lim’s new novella Dear Cyborgs sees the world from a number of strange angles—angles so strange that it’s often not clear what’s going on. The confusion in this book never pretentious or pointless—it feels intrinsic to the book’s political urgency and to the book’s pleasure. The only thing I’ve read in 2017 that’s more confusing than Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs is each day’s news. Dear Cyborgs is far more...[read on]
About The Epiphany Machine, from the publisher:
Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too.

That’s the slogan. The product: a junky contraption that tattoos personalized revelations on its users’ forearms. It’s an old con, playing on the fear that we are obvious to everybody except ourselves. This particular one’s been circulating New York since the 1960s. The ad works. And, oddly enough, so might the device…

A small stream of city dwellers buy into this cult of the epiphany machine, including Venter Lowood’s parents. This stigma follows them when they move upstate, where Venter can’t avoid the whispers of teachers and neighbors any more than he can ignore the machine’s accurate predictions: his mother’s abandonment and his father’s disinterest. So when Venter’s grandmother finally asks him to confront the epiphany machine and inoculate himself against his family’s mistakes, he’s only too happy to oblige.

Like his parents before him, Venter is quick to fall under the spell of the device’s sweat-stained, profane, and surprisingly charming operator, Adam Lyons. But unlike them, Venter gets close enough to Adam to learn a dark secret. There’s an undeniable pattern between specific epiphanies and violent crimes. And Adam won’t jeopardize the privacy of his customers by alerting the police.

It may be a hoax, but that doesn’t mean what Adam is selling isn’t also spot-on. And in this sprawling, snarling tragicomedy about accountability in contemporary America, the greater danger is that Adam Lyon’s apparatus may just be right about us all.
Visit David Burr Gerrard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Epiphany Machine.

My Book, The Movie: The Epiphany Machine.

Writers Read: David Burr Gerrard.

--Marshal Zeringue