The Laughter of Strangers (2013)

Lazy Fascist Press

$12.95 | Buy, Like.

“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.”

–Jim Ruland, 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.”

–Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

“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.”

–Andrea Longini, The Believer

“Identity is a curious creature to begin with, and Seidlinger does odd and marvelous things in making abstract aspects of identity concrete at the same time that he makes concrete aspects of identity abstract.”

–David Atkinson, The Coffin Factory

The Laughter of Strangers is the person as a spectacle, the man as the MEME.”

Beach Sloth

“Michael Seidlinger managed to siphon some genuine soul from himself into this work, and he should be commended for it.”

–Jeremy Maddux, The Surreal Grotesque

“Mastering the muck of aging and identity, of ego and paranoia, Seidlinger takes his readers into dark psychological corners—then beats the crap out of them. No, The Laughter of Strangers is not something you’ll finish and walk away from lightly. You’ll stagger, for sure.”

–Brian Alan Ellis, Sundog Lit

The Laughter of Strangers is intensely focused on telling its story in the best way possible. The resolve to do this never lets up for a second. Everything builds up to the most devastating climax that Seidlinger has written thus far.”

–Gabriel Ricard, Drunk Monkeys

“Even though I know almost nothing about boxing, I found myself relating to this book a lot. I was also impressed with how Seidlinger uses the book’s headers — he subverts them in interesting ways later in the book, it’s a cool trick.”

–Chris Dankland, Alt Lit Gossip

“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.”

–Gabino Iglesias, Bookslut

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