Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
When you are born, the first thing you do is scream. Be it a response to fear, anger, sadness, or happiness, the scream is a declaration of being alive.
The metal vocalist cupping the microphone blares out a deafeningly harsh scream. The drill instructor screams out commands to their soldiers. And then there’s the bloodcurdling screams we know from horror films. A scream has many meanings, but it is an instinctive and reflexive action that, at its core, reveals raw emotion.
Investigating popular and alternative cultures, art, and science, Michael J. Seidlinger tracks the resonance of the scream across media and literature and in his own voice.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
“A comprehensive and deeply personal trip through the cultural history of the scream. From Slipknot to Edvard Munch to John Carpenter and back into his own body, Michael Seidlinger reminds us all why we scream. As a singer, this one really hit home!”
—Geoff Rickly, singer of Thursday
“Michael J. Seidlinger dissects the emotional complexity of the scream and-using examples from history, pop culture, and his own life-analyzes the way it highjacks the rational mind. Scream is an unforgettable ode to auditory extremes.”
―Jim Ruland, author of Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise & Fall of SST Records
Dexter meets Secretary in Michael J. Seidlinger’s provocative, disturbing literary thriller that reinvents the serial killer genre, exploring the psychology of desire. Claire studies forensic science, Victor is the Gentleman Killer. Subverting expectations, Clair seduces Victor and keeps him in her apartment as her pet, her darkest secret. Beautifully written, provocative to read, Seidlinger delves into Claire’s motivations and impetus to present a compelling psychosexual portrait of a woman obsessed with performance, with power, with sex, and with gore.
“This book defies categorization: A new kind of serial killer story that pushes and prods in all the unexpected directions. You’ve never read anything quite like this.”
–Carlton Mellick III, author of Kill Ball
“Michael Seidlinger’s swift-moving novel is an interesting addition to the genre, with all kinds of offbeat touches there for the connoisseur. He reminds me, in style, of some of the Swedish crime-writers we’ve seen. The narrative moves quickly towards a satisfying payoff.”
–Todd Grimson, author of Stainless
“‘And now they’re talking about media icons and murder’: Michael J. Seidlinger’s strange tale of Claire Wilkinson, forensics major, and her ‘Gentleman Killer’ is a wonderful romp through American wound culture, exploring the connection between art, media, serial killing, romance and anonymity. It reshapes the college romance plot as a wing of JG Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition.”
–Johannes Göransson, author of Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate
“A rowdy menagerie of the unexpected, this book will delight and disturb even the bravest of readers; all preconceptions of what to trust and what to fear are masterfully upended within these pages.”
–Alissa Nutting, author of Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
In Runaways: A Writer’s Dilemma, author Michael J. Seidlinger centers a magnifying glass on the creative journey, with an honest and unabashed search into how and why someone would want to be accepted as a writer in a world that might not care.
The book’s breezy narrative contrasts with the despair that is often triggered by the wasteland of social media and the Internet. This is a story that reminds the reader that they aren’t alone in a culture that pressures us to measure our work on a purely capitalistic level, driven by likes, hearts, and money. Like a darker and more skewed literary version of the metaphysical classic, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Seidlinger’s Runaways: A Writer’s Dilemma shows us how our art, often made in solitary, can be the more important and inspiring part of living.
“This smart story ought to prompt readers to second-guess the impulse to write—or to tweet.”
“A portrait of the writer as a procrastinator, professional self-doubter, caffeine connoisseur, and social media addict, Runaways wallows in the manifold frustrations of this extravagantly frustrating process—yet it ultimately left this fellow sufferer feeling optimistic and ready to confront the blank page once more.”
—Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
“Part tale and part literary Twitter discourse, Seidlinger delivers a humorous and incisive look into the life and neuroses of the modern writer. Runaways wormed under my skin in the best of ways, invoking bad habits, sage advice, and all of the stories writers tell themselves when faced with a blank page. Required reading for any writer looking to feel less alone in the trenches.”
—Sequoia Nagamatsu, author of How High We Go in the Dark and Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone
“Whether it’s craft or memoir, I constantly buy books on writing. This one will be on my desk as a touchstone to be read every day for my mental health. It’s essential. It’s a writer’s heart’s song, capturing the true agony and ecstasy of being an artist today. Runaways is the book for every writer and everyone who wants to understand a writer.”
—Jimin Han, author of A Small Revolution
“Seidlinger holds a mirror to the contemporary writer, a narcissist and addict with often little to say. Deft, gracefully slender, and deeply upsetting: Runaways: A Writer’s Dilemma is a plea to every artist to throw their phone into a river.”
—Christopher Zeischegg, author of The Magician
“Michael J. Seidlinger has written a weird and beautiful and slightly deranged meditation on the horror show that is the writer’s life in the age of social media. Think Samuel Beckett’s Stories & Texts for Nothing only here it’s tweets, retweets, quote tweets, DM’s, and the special hell of ‘going viral.’ I can’t tell you how many times I burst out laughing in horror and recognition at the darkly funny and depraved state of our protagonist ‘a writer.’ Finally, a book that takes the craft of not writing as seriously as the craft of writing. Seidlinger is a literary iconoclast who fills the page with riotous and heartbreaking truths about how we live now: cerebral, punk rock, stylish, and sensitive.”
—Gabe Hudson, author of Gork, the Teenage Dragon
A writer walks the entirety of New York City searching for a story, inspiration, anything to give him some direction. While navigating the busier blocks of Times Square, he stumbles upon a restaurant opening and an enigmatic man named Jiro protesting the grand opening. Believing it’s the only way to maintain Jiro’s interest, he claims to be a director, someone interested in developing a project that reveals to the world Jiro’s unseen culinary talent. Eventually, the truth comes out, and he comes face-to-face with what it means to be creative in a passionless world.
“Dreams of Being is a taut journey into the fantasy of perfection. A novel with powerful pulse about a person seeking out a hero, hoping to understand themselves. Michael Seidlinger writes beautifully, with purpose, with skill.”
—Bud Smith, author of Teenager
“Dreams of Being is a fever dream, a religious text, a writer’s notebook, a case of mistaken identity, a love letter. Jiro is one of the most fascinating characters you will ever read, and this is Michael Seidlinger at his very best, his sentences full of his particular energy and verve. Start here. Open this book and get lost in Seidlinger’s dream. You will be drawn in by the complexity and wonder of Jiro’s story and the mystery of how to tell it and what it takes to make meaning.”
—Matthew Salesses, author of Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear
“Dreams of Being is a taut journey into the fantasy of perfection. A novel with powerful pulse about a person seeking out a hero, hoping to understand themselves. Michael Seidlinger writes beautifully, with purpose, with skill.”
—Jennifer Baker, editor of Everyday People: The Color of Life
Hunter Warden just wants some peace and quiet. He wants to watch unboxing videos and be lulled to sleep by the monotone voices and smooth talking YouTube hosts. He wants his parents that are always working to either totally leave him alone or be around for once. After a few beers, Hunter decides to get away from it all and go for a run in Falter Kingdom.
When you run the gauntlet at Falter Kingdom, a tunnel next to a park on the outskirts of suburbia where local high school kids go to drink and smoke, one of two things can happen — nothing or you catch a demon.
The cold spots, locked doors, scratches on the wall, and disappearing laptop immediately alert Hunter to the fact that a demon is haunting him. He knows the signs, he’s seen the videos of people that are possessed, and everyone knows someone that has had to get an exorcism. Hunter knows that he should get rid of it, but he can’t help but enjoy the company of “H,” despite this demon’s sinister intentions.
“Seidlinger continues his quest to become a literary chameleon, diving into new genres and remixing them into something wholly his own. His is a kingdom without borders.”
—Joshua Mohr, author of All This Life
“High school is a time of endless exorcisms, and Michael J Seidlinger captures the demon-expelling days of senior year in Falter Kingdom with tenderness and honesty. As in any high school, there is someone determined to hold onto his demon as long as he can, and Seidlinger wisely places that demon-embracer at the center of this defiant, innovative novel.”
—Idra Novey, author of Ways to Disappear
“Seidlinger’s riveting book has ‘unpacked’ the classic Holden Caulfield character we know and love and given us a newly complicated misfit to root for. Here we see the boundaries of good and evil, love and hatred, self and other dissipate as the increasingly lovable demon takes possession of us.”
—Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased
Michael Seidlinger has dared tackle one of the literary classics of the 20th century literature and reimagined it for the 21st: and in Albert Camus’ anti-hero Meursault, at once apathetic and violent, unable to connect with his fellow humans, Seidlinger exhumes a perfect metaphor for the Internet Generation. Zachary Weinham, anchorless in terms of morals and committed to nothing except commenting on comments and their comments etc., finds himself involved in the sinister machinations of Rios, someone he meets in a bar, and allows himself to be set up—whether out of apathy or a desire for self-destruction it’s hard to tell. A murder ensues. Shunned by his friends and associates, not sure of what he has gotten into, Zachary heads for confrontation with society—and his own moral values.
“For a line to exist, it would first have to be crossed.”
“A smart adaptation indeed of a hallowed classic, repositioning it for a grimmer world three-quarters of a century on.” –Kirkus Reviews
“The Strangest is a stark and deliberate analysis of life in the 21st Century. Its evaluation of not just social media, but modern presence and its adaptation of what I’ll refer to here as a the new human condition, is, much like Camus’ Stranger, authoritative and convincing. Of the string of, or even genre of, contemporary works concentrated on these themes, I found Seidlinger’s The Strangest to be, thus far, the most concise and expressive.” –The Modern Review
“[Seidlinger] takes us into the consciousness of a person so withdrawn that he must have some sort of social anxiety disorder; every bit as affectless as Camus’s Stranger, his smartphone is his only lifeline of communication with people, even when they’re right on the subway with him. I like how the author constructs the protagonist’s consciousness, with the integration of social media being elegant and measured, and I particularly like a few pivotal scenes where what is happening is carefully elided by the author—it’s very effective.”-Conversational Reading
“Step back Camus, your anti-hero has been fragmented and dispersed via the free-fall of social media. Michael J. Seidlinger’s re-visioning enters the anthropocene without apology or oxygen masks, and asks us to take the trip toward self discovery as if the self was moving particles. A kick-ass ride. A beautiful dismemberment.”
–Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children
“When I was in high school, I read The Stranger in French. L’Étranger. I was not an A student in French. Maybe a B. Minus. My accent was ‘formidable!’, my grammar and reading comprehension ‘médiocre’. I never looked at that book again, in any language. Now I actually have read Michael Seidlinger’s uniquely compelling The Strangest. Am I supposed to now go back read a book of a lesser superlative? This book not only lives up to its title, it does so with impeccable rhythm and a perfectly odd, discomfiting grace befitting of this tale of strangeness updated for our strange present.”
–Elizabeth Crane, author of We Only Know So Much
“If anyone at any time is in search of a novel that renders the dysphoria and fragmentation experienced by the first generation to live through social media, then he or she should begin with The Strangest. Like Camus, Seidlinger does not so much describe anomie as write from it; the result is a strangely resonant book that feels, above all else, honest.”
–Will Chancellor, author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall
“The Strangest is a bold and stirring portrayal of the alienation of contemporary life, how technology amplifies our desire for approval and magnifies the horror of others’ judgment.”
–Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star
“The world that Michael J. Seidlinger navigates in The Strangest is one in which the dying battery of a mobile phone provokes more emotion than a dying tree or child, told by a man whose sole value lies in the affirmation of his online persona, each comment and ‘like’ tallied one by one. Not since Seidlinger’s last book have I encountered the chilling terror of Paul Bowles and his dissonant, virtually toneless minimalism, nor the evisceration of contemporary life that Michel Houellebecq delivers, ruthless as a diamond with a broken heart. Camus himself, I think, would affirm this homage to his famous book, with a solemn nod, perhaps, and the crushing underfoot of his last cigarette. For myself, I’m as nauseated as I am lifted, as redeemed as appalled. If you want a vision of life without a soul yoked to one of ways to smash it, step into this void. The lesson is relatively short, but its benefits are sure to go on and on.”
–D. Foy, author of Made to Break
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What if your mother was a wedge of lemon? Would you still be a mess? The first Lazy Fascist double feature two original works, “Messes of Men” by Michael J Seidlinger and “Lemon Heart/i> by Matthew Revert.
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A BOOK MADE TO HAUNT ME
“Seidlinger has cut all the nonsense away and looks at the core of each relationship. You can feel the heart in this collection and can’t help but feel moved to look at our own past of broken connections.”
—The Big Smoke
“Standard Loneliness Package makes it easy to see that time is the great healer, and that it also sometimes acts as a microscope that allows us to study every small mistake we made.”
“Michael J Seidlinger’s collection of epistolary poems, Standard Loneliness Package, is a beast! Or rather, a bestiary. Each poem’s composed to someone lost to the poet, and as this book accrues, we discover all that the direct address in a poem can do. This collection reconciles with a past that is not past, still alive inside the writer and shows how poetry can be a means of assembling our ghosts, of reaching across the void into the unknown, regardless of what you’ll find reaching back.”
—sam sax, author of Madness
“I loved how Michael J Seidlinger’s Standard Loneliness Package navigates the ways in which communication and companionship fail us and leave us longing for more. The speaker of these poems earnestly traces the silhouettes of different people from their life, wondering what lingers after the person is gone. This book is tender and sad, but not without hope—no matter who this speaker encounters, there’s always something left behind to document, collect, and value.”
—Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I’m Someone Else
“Michael J Seidlinger’s Standard Loneliness Package begins with the lines ‘The first poem / The first apology / Of a book made / To haunt me.’ The book will haunt you too. Each piece explores, without reserve, his earliest personal relationships and how they shape him. This is a collection for anyone who hasn’t been their best self, for anyone hoping to make sense of their own loneliness, for anyone struggling to accept the mistakes and misgivings about their past. Seidlinger explores the dark parts of himself and the people around him with the keen eye and a generous heart.”
—Christine Stroud, author of Sister Suite
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What happens when a woman gives birth to a machine gun?
“Mother has something else to say but music won’t stop music is here to stay. For ‘music’, read language. In this headlong tumble of a novella, we see not only an (unhinged/possibly murderous) Mother searching for her (autistic/possibly murderous) son, but also we see language itself, banged up and tripping, a bleeding anatomy of Biblical, crime show, tabloid, service industry phrases joined into a body, hurtling towards impact, and wondering where its human inmates are.”
–Joyelle McSweeney, author of Salamandrine: 8 Gothics
“A haunting, deliberate, and compulsive text. A beautiful and devastating one. Here, where ‘Mother is a loss for words,’ the crime scene is not a grisly, violent one of death, but one that circles around birth, love, and the PTSD associated with mother-ness, a tidal influence of the beliefs one holds on to, the impending echo of life and loss.”
–Janice Lee, author of Damnation
“In Mother of a Machine Gun, Seidlinger strips away the world to show only a certain violence imposed on it. Which is, perhaps, what good fiction must always aspire to do.”
–James Tadd Adcox, author of Does Not Love
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A man without a face infects the lives of others, becoming the person he discovers to be most interesting, feasting on their flaws, peering into their peculiarities in order to fulfill their meaningless desires. The main protagonist of the novel has lost his identity in favor of, much like a genie, being able to adopt, accentuate, and adorn the identities of others. He cannot remember his past or how this condition came to be; for all he knows, he’s always been faceless and invisible, forced to watch others, reading their eyes, interpreting every facial gesture, while seeking the most interesting flaw. He is one of the people, if only the people would notice him standing there, right next to them, staring back, as if to say, “Hey, I know you…”
When you have the face of any other, you see the cracks peeling apart a person’s face, showing bone, bleeding with the hidden anguish of hushed nerves. You feel each and every nerve tensing, and you feel for them—for everyone—when they buckle, unable to bear the burden of each daunting episode. When you spend all your time and energy making sure the people around you are happy, no one will question whether or not you feel the same way. No one is there to question your motivations.
“The Face of Any Other bravely explores the tenuous personhood of the young and the urban, whose lives grow more ghostly the more they are particularized. Michael J Seidlinger has graced us with a quietly but unsettlingly original novel of the day-by-day slippages from alienation to asphyxiating despair.”
—Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way
“An absurdly comic cross between Kobo Abe’s The Face of Another and Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, with self-help and personality tests thrown in, The Face of Any Other is, at once, funny and terrifying, humane and startling. It’s an incisive look at the doubts and fears we try to keep hidden but that instead percolate their way to the surface of our skin.”
—Brian Evenson, author of Windeye
“The Face of Any Other picks up where Oblivion-era David Foster Wallace stopped and goes about fragmented and episodic narrative with the same knife Lydia Davis uses. It is chilling, manic, and strangely beautiful. It captures the OCD and ADD of our times with equal attention and paints the genuinely weird and yet post-weird consciousness of a universe I wish was less like ours.”
–Porochista Khakpour, author of the novels Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion
“Stylistically and structurally innovative, yet with clear, clean prose, Seidlinger exhibits compassion for the inner and outer anxieties, the mundane and not so mundane aspects of our human existence. Instead of using the cold detachment too often employed by young writers, in The Face of Any Other, readers are sure to discover a refreshingly, emotionally-resonant work.”
–Paula Bomer, author of Inside Madeleine
“The idea of a man with no face latching onto random people and swimming in their insecurities is both horrifying and a little hilarious. But the real horror, and humor, in The Face of Any Other is found in the consumer concerns, office anxieties, and daily banalities that Seidlinger exposes, skewers, and transforms into art. Seidlinger has a face—I’ve seen it!—but his novel is a mirror revealing us to ourselves.”
–Lincoln Michel, author of Upright Beasts
“Michael J Seidlinger is a technician of collapse. Read this book, then ask why you’ve read it. Then ask again why Seidlinger wrote it. The Face of Any Other is the cry on the page of Edvard Munch’s screaming man, a dirge not for the end of the answer but of the question itself.”
—D. Foy, author of Made to Break
“Told in Brautigan-length chapters through both sorrowful and eerie tones, Seidlinger’s The Face of Any Other conjures the one-hundred-and-four-year-old voice of Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge, who similarly grappled with identity by asserting, ‘There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.’ Like a merry-go-round of postmodern disaster scenarios, a carnival of performance upon performance, the narrator pushes itself beyond its own breaking point. By the end, the tables turn on the reader as the narrator seems to become a mirror looking into a mirror: a haunting, seething, and beautiful mise en abyme.”
—Christopher Higgs, author of The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney
“The Face of Any Other crawls into the cracks of our dreary days and finds the strange light at the center of it all. Boredom and blankness are transfigured into something new and exciting. This is, by far, Michael J. Seidlinger’s best book yet—warm and human even as it wanders through inhospitable landscapes. Assured, mature and wonderfully creepy.”
—David Connerley Nahm, author of Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky
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Two lovers are adrift in a coffin on an endless sea. Who are they? They are him and her. They are you and me. They are rowing to salvage what remains of themselves. They are rowing to remember the fun we’ve had.
“Michael Seidlinger is a homegrown Calvino, a humanist, and wise and darkly whimsical. His invisible cities are the spires of the sea where we all sail our coffins in search of our stories.”
–Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville
“Melding the static, high-concept premise of two humans floating alone on a coffin in a sea devoid of all else with stark and meditative prose, The Fun We’ve Had evokes a highly unexpected experience, somewhere between Beckett’s most hopeless solipsists and the mysterious energy of a child’s Choose Your Own Adventure-era dream.”
–Blake Butler, author of There Is No Year and Three Hundred Million
“It is obvious that Michael J Seidlinger had a great deal of fun writing The Fun We’ve Had. What more could a reader ask for?”
–Michael Kimball, author of Big Ray
“The best poets are writing poetry no matter what they are writing, creating entirely new and weird spaces. There is no doubt Seidlinger has made one of the weirdest spaces we will ever inhabit. In The Fun We’ve Had, every visible thing is a love of disturbing tremors, keeping ahead of our ever-curious eyes, hoping to savor every line. What a magnificent book.”
–CAConrad, author of The Book of Frank
“Seidlinger’s imagination is a sea unto itself, the reader riding these rollicking waves. This book will have you clutching pages as though they’re life vests. Fans of Calvino and Shelley Jackson will dig the slow submerge into this crazy romp.”
–Joshua Mohr, author of Damascus
“Michael J Seidlinger writes with the kind of weird, wonderful, joyful abandon that reminds the reader that world is still the great unknown. In The Fun We’ve Had, he examines the long blank space between life and death, fills it with love and loss and boats made of coffins, with people clinging to life and using the weight of the past as ballast. This is a fun read, true; but it’s also a true read, and that’s what makes it so beautifully sad.”
–Amber Sparks, author of The Desert Places and May We Shed These Human Bodies
“Ready for an analogy? Here goes: When you need to give a dog a pill, you don’t just jam it down his throat, you wrap that pill in something yummy, like, say, ham. Michael J Seidlinger understands that this principle extends to people and books. So he’s got this pill he wants you to swallow, right? That pill is the truth about love and death and strife and, more generally, the messy mysterious business of being human, and also of being nothingness. Pretty heavy, right? Big old horse pill. But then Seidlinger, no fool, wraps it in the yummy slow-smoked maple goodness of his humor. He obviously had a fine time writing this book, which is precisely the reason you’ll have a fine time reading it.”
–Ron Currie Jr., author of Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles
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“The bare-bones prose within The Laughter of Strangers is heartbreaking, bleak, and stays with you long after finishing the book. This one should not be ignored.”
-Frank Bill, author of Donnybrook
“Michael J. Seidlinger’s The Laughter of Strangers is vicious and unforgettable. Willem Floures’ search for meaning in a world that keeps knocking him off his feet is as gritty and enthralling as a fight. The Laughter of Strangers destroyed my expectations of what a boxing novel can be. Seidlinger is charting new narrative territory, and we should follow him wherever he goes.”
–Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth
“The last time I got punched in the face (by someone I wasn’t married to or dating) I was 16 years old. What began as an exchange of witty banter, turned into a pummeling. Never make jokes about a man’s mother enjoying the erotic companionship of goats, or you’ll find out about this world. The Laughter of Strangers is like that beating. I never trust people who use a middle initial, but Michael J Seidlinger is different. If the Laughter of Strangers had a middle initial it would be an F. And that F would stand for ‘Fuck yes.’ I’m on my back. I’m having my behavior corrected. It’s teaching me a lesson. And I can see stars.”
–Scott McClanahan, author of Crapalachia
“Like a ghost fretting over its lost body (or is it bodies? – in this book whatever you think of as ‘you’ might simply float like a butterfly right into someone else’s body) a boxer attests to his presence, damaged and shimmery though it may be. That this fractured first person narrator feels the need to put the word ‘me’ in quotes speaks volumes. Terrifying volumes. This elastic, hurtling narrative pivots (and pivots again) on a recurring image of almost unimaginable dread – that of being laughed at in your hour of need by an audience of strangers.”
–Grace Krilanovich, author of The Orange Eats Creeps
“Steeped in noir, Michael J Seidlinger’s superb boxing novel delivers 12 rounds of sweet science and shifting identities. Both physical and philosophical, it’ll leave the reader with a complicated bruise – the closer you examine it, the more it resembles your own face.”
–Jeff Jackson, author of Mira Corpora
“The Laughter of Strangers” delivers a combination of psychological horror and strangeness that would not be out of place in a David Lynch film. Seidlinger’s weird new fight fiction suggests that perhaps the best place for boxing contests isn’t in the ring but between the pages of a book.”
–Los Angeles Times
“Unexpectedly, Michael J. Seidlinger has given us the boxing novel of the year. The Laughter of Strangers is a tough and gritty book that will challenge you page after page, but it is oh so worth it.”
“At times it seems that our online personas are destined to become nothing more than a graveyard, a landfill for multiple competing identities in an endless game that simply cannot be won. In that sense, the right question is not even how to win the game of personal branding, it is in the larger philosophical question of how we can assume heaviness and lightness in our own identities. Enough of using shallow techniques to generate audience reaction, The Laughter of Strangers seems to suggest. Let us instead consider what framework we adopt to determine what has repercussions in life, and what doesn’t.”
“Seidlinger’s stripped down prose resembles a boxer that possesses both graceful footwork and devastating power: it’s rough and fast, but given to bursts of eloquence, humor, and philosophy.”
OUT OF PRINT
while no one was looking.
All that remains is the skeleton of a land riddled with demise and what had once been referred to as domestic symmetry: those commodities we once called our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors.
People have fled the land in massive pilgrimages with little more than a moment’s mourning; but one family has remained within their home, unable to move on. In order to have a second chance, they first need to figure out how to fill the hole America left in their lives.
When there is nothing left, they look up to the sky conducting patterns across time. They admire its loyalty and pull hope from the cumulus clouds before they drift apart and disappear. They want to let go.
Might they find closure in the clouds?
“This is the obscure voice-over for the back-alley director’s cut of our lives as American actors. And the cameras are still rolling.”
–Stephen Graham Jones, author of Demon Theory, All the Beautiful Sinners, and Zombie Bake-off
“Seidlinger’s The Sky Conducting charges and hums, a post-apocalyptic dreamscape of family and America and hope caked with ash and buried beneath the malls and the mud, a song of imagination, an indictment of crumbling dogmas, a gentle and savage plaything. Let Seidlinger guide you through the muck and the fear. It’s clear he knows where he’s going.”
–Mel Bosworth, author of Freight
“Michael Seidlinger’s terrific new novel pruned my skin. Seriously, I was reading it in the bathtub one night and I stayed in the water for a good couple of hours, deeply engrossed. It’s that immersive (so to speak). It also marks a confident new direction in his work. The Sky Conducting is elegant, disturbing, and important. Buy it and read it.”
–Nick Antosca, author of Fires, Midnight Picnic, and The Obese
“Outsiders arrive, drifting and trading whatever is left behind, whatever was abandoned by a fleeing population, an entire civilization remembered by artifact. Seidlinger creates a shadowy and chilling world, a sprawling psychosis reminiscent of Ballard meeting McCarthy and full-on dreamscapes that will haunt long after the last page.”
–Ashley Crawford, 21c Magazine
“I want you to read it. I want you to send it to Greg Graffin, of Bad Religion, so he can read it. I want you to think about it and let it upset your stomach and force you so far inward you might need to kneel in front of the toilet. I want you to think about it when you vote. I want it to infect you the way it did me so that I won’t have gone through this book alone.”
–Jess Stoner, Necessary Fiction
“As the family sets aside their pain to help him search, they become more and more the prototypical American family at the mall, their troubles momentarily forgotten in a temple of consumerism.”
–Jennifer Udden, KGB Bar
“Ultimately, the scariest thing about The Sky Conducting is that readers might turn the last page and realize that the end of America is already here.”
–Gabino Iglesias, Horror Talk
“America is central to the book — I dare say it aspires to be a “Great American Novel,” but in a very smart and interesting 21st century way.”
–Christopher Higgs, HTML Giant
“There was a book. Oh man was there a book. It is still to this day a book I mention it to any book lover if asked for a recommendation. The best books stick with you, often reminding you of the power, and potential, of storytelling, and House of Leaves is one of those books.”—Michael Seidlinger, in this Bookmarked volume on Mark Z. Danielweski’s classic of experimental contemporary literature, House of Leaves.