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White Dialogues (PREORDER)
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“The brilliant, austere stories of White Dialogues are, in their marrow, horror stories: the terrible anxiety of thought loops, the certainty of fate, the specter of death, the inescapability of one’s own mind, the monstrosity of human impulses. With the uncanny perception of Nicholson Baker, the formal playfulness of David Foster Wallace, and the domestic terror of Shirley Jackson, Bennett Sims wrangles fictional forms, pop culture, and philosophy to his own dark ends. Incantatory, cerebral, and profoundly unnerving, White Dialogues is pure, perverse pleasure. Sims is one of our best early-career fiction writers, and this is a collection worth celebrating.”
—Carmen Maria Machado
With all the brilliance, bravado, and wit of his award-winning debut, A Questionable Shape, Bennett Sims returns with an equally ambitious and wide-ranging collection of stories.
A house-sitter alone in a cabin in the woods comes to suspect that the cabin may need to be “unghosted.” A raconteur watches as his personal story is rewritten on an episode of This American Life. And in the collection’s title story, a Hitchcock scholar sitting in on a Vertigo lecture is gradually driven mad by his own theory of cinema.
In these eleven stories, Sims moves from slow-burn psychological horror to playful comedy, bringing us into the minds of people who are haunted by their environments, obsessions, and doubts. Told in electric, insightful prose, White Dialogues is a profound exploration of the way we uncover meaning in a complex, and sometimes terrifying, world. It showcases Sims’s rare talent and confirms his reputation as one of the most exciting young writers at work today.
White Dialogues by Bennett Sims =
* In most cases, none of these writers endorse this book. Our math formulas are supposed to be amusing anecdotes, similar to shelf-talkers in bookstores that say "If you like X, you might enjoy Y," or "This Book is like Cormac McCarthy writing an episode of Saved by the Bell with a soundtrack by Philip Glass."
"In this wise, witty and often deeply moving collection of stories Bennett Sims proves himself to be a master of many forms. He can find sinister obsession in a lawn mower or a scrabble board, he can find life and death in a lizard. He takes his reader to the moon—“Not even death is an outside for the dead”—and back. He is the heir to the Nabokov of Pale Fire even as his voice is entirely his own. The title story, “White Dialogues,” serves as an emblem for the book as a whole. Here is a writer who is always directing our attention to what we have failed to see, giving voice, beautifully, unnervingly to the unsaid."
"White Dialogues is fantastic, and the story "Destroy All Monsters" is a masterpiece. Bennett Sims's work shows us—through the intricate decay of his characters, the intricate assembly of his monsters—why horror has become the most philosophical genre. He shows us the occult link between imagination and death."
"In White Dialogues, Bennett Sims unleashes more of the dazzling intellectual firepower I loved in his debut, A Questionable Shape. Sims' vision of what is horrifying is both engaged with the long and varied history of that genre and unique within it. His work is deeply philosophical and human, turning the known and familiar so that we can see it from new angles and find ourselves refracted in the strangeness of others' minds. Is Sims writing about monsters, or thoughts, or the monsters of our thoughts? This question—and this dark, uncanny collection of stories—feels vital, especially right now. A brutally smart book."
"The Zen poet Ikkyu used to run through town holding a human skull aloft like a lantern. These stories are that lantern, a collection of memento mori chilling, timeless, and deeply satisfying to read. There is no escape from the awareness of death here; in these stories, the hidden picture is always the monster in plain sight, the call is coming from inside the house, and the house is that circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. The voices Sims summons are so persuasive that you, the reader, become implicated in their frantic logic, trapped with the narrators in their interpretative cages. This relentlessness is mitigated by the Melvillean heft of Sims’ prose: the depth of his attention to the world and to the making of sentences, the monumentalness. He is an anatomist of horror, but an anatomist of great beauty and wit."
Reviews for Bennett Sims's award-winning debut novel, A Questionable Shape:
* Bard Fiction Prize 2014
* The Believer Book Award Finalist
* One of the Best Books of 2013 —Complex Magazine, Book Riot, Slate, The L Magazine, NPR's 'On Point', Salon
"Equal parts David Foster Wallace and Richard Matheson [...] A Questionable Shape is certainly the first Proustian zombie novel, but hopefully not the last horror novel of ideas."
"[An] extraordinary novel."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"A Questionable Shape is a rewriting of the genre in rather literal sense. Sims’s zombie novel perhaps contains the highest proportion of great descriptions of light per page since Proust. The zombie installs at the heart of the novel a perspective from which the polymorphous dynamics of the human experience of light disappear."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Sims allows us at least a glimpse of the monstrous weight we all lug on our individual trudges through daily life."
"Ambitious [and] thoughtfully rendered. Sims's debut is essential reading."
"So many layers of brilliant."
"Bennett Sims has embarked on a unique literary journey; join him now and fight the bite."
"The smartest zombie novel since Colson Whitehead's Zone One."
—Ron Charles, Washington Post
"A Questionable Shape presents the yang to the yin of Whitehead’s Zone One, with chess games, a dinner invitation, and even a romantic excursion. Echoes of [Thomas] Bernhard’s hammering circularity and [David Foster] Wallace’s bright mind that can’t stop making connections are both present. The point is where the mind goes, and, in that respect, Sims has his thematic territory down cold."
—The Daily Beast
"Evokes the power of David Foster Wallace with a narrative that's cerebral, strangely beautiful, philosophical, and pretty, well, brilliant."
"Unlike anything I’d ever read. Underlying the seemingly quirky subject matter of Sims’s novel is a notable linguistic dynamism and impressive command of philosophical challenges. Sims’ work has a life of its own."
"A Questionable Shape places a new spin on zombie fiction, so very much recommended."
—Midwest Book Review
"Sims brings a supercharged literary erudition to that initial story idea and manages to take A Questionable Shape in a direction very different than its cinematic and literary precursors. A Questionable Shape is downright infectious."
"Compressed, copiously footnoted and literary, Bennett Sims' A Questionable Shape focuses on a zombie outbreak's effect on a young man and his girlfriend in a single week, in which he and his best friend undertake a quixotic, zombie-strewn search for a missing father."
—Los Angeles Times
"Bennett Sims is insanely talented. Over and over again, Sims demonstrates astonishing skill with image. In the details of his characters, Sims is nothing short of brilliant. [A Questionable Shape is] an extraordinarily prodigious debut novel."
—Electric Literature's 'The Outlet'
"A thinking fan's zombie novel... one that asks the question: Do we lose our humanity when the world starts to crumble?"
"My favorite novel of 2013... complex, erudite, and profoundly affecting. A Questionable Shape, Sims’ debut, reveals him to be a writer of great range, depth, and intelligence, who has only just begun to show us what he has to say... Groundbreaking."
—The American Reader
"Yes, it's a zombie novel, but also an emotionally resonant meditation on memory and loss."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Sims demonstrates he isn’t just smart—he’s brilliant; his book’s not beautiful—it’s gorgeous. It’s sensitive, insightful and ruminative, which aren’t always things you get to say about zombie fiction, let alone most books."
—The L Magazine
"Brilliantly sensitive, whip-smart... Sims’ genius lies in how he builds a terrifically engrossing and utterly unique novel, not in spite, but rather because of the familiarity of the material. A book that is just as touching and funny as it is riotously smart."
"[A Questionable Shape is] much more W.G. Sebald than George A. Romero. And I loved it. Bennett Sims: you are a brilliant writer. A Questionable Shape was a huge success for me. It’s easily one of the best books I’ll read this year."
"With nods to Hamlet and Orpheus (not to mention Tarkovsky and Wittgenstein), Sims’s novel is a learned debut informed not just by erudition, but by nature, desire, and the persistence of memory."
—KRUI Lit Show
"Spectacular... makes us turn the pages faster than a scene of survivors frantically boarding up a farmhouse ever could."
"Deeply thoughtful... Full of footnotes and digressions, the novel is both a dark adventure story and a meditation on what it means when someone you love is lost to you."
—Poets & Writers
"A Questionable Shape is the best book I have read this year. I suspect it will still hold top honors when the year comes to a close many months hence. A Questionable Shape is unquestionably a major accomplishment."
"This ain’t your granddaddy’s zombie-apocalypse. Everything in Bennett Sims’s stunning debut court s a topographical and invasive examination of the human condition through our inverse. The architecture of zombie-logic is rewired, and the undead become symbolic for what it means to exist in all its physical and existential, its beauty and brutality."
"Bennett Sims is a writer fearsomely equipped with an intellectual and linguistic range to rival a young Nabokov's, Nicholson Baker's gift for miniaturistic intaglio, and an arsenal of virtuosities entirely his own. A Questionable Shape announces a literary talent of genre-wrecking brilliance."
"Bennett Sims' A Questionable Shape is a book I feel like I've been searching for for years but have yet to find, until now. Sims' humble, cerebral, and addictively engaging narrator, comfortable expostulating on videogames as well as Wittgenstein against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, marries highbrow to low, blends genre conventions with a ravenous intellectual curiosity and depth, and delivers one of the bravest, funniest, and strangest narratives I've come across in recent memory. At times you'll find yourself comparing it to Thomas Bernhard, David Foster Wallace, or Nicholson Baker, and then find the comparison lacking, not because this book is in any way inferior to these writers, but because it is as good or better, and moreover, unlike them in that it is its own bizarre animal, idiosyncratic and utterly new."
"In A Questionable Shape everything is questioned—love, family, memory, the way we lead our lives. Even loss itself seems obsolete in these worn out Zombified days. And yet, out beyond the margins of genre, two young men embark on a search as worthy as Walker Percy’s in The Moviegoer, taking us into a fascinating textual netherworld of footnotes full of Heidegger and haiku, leading us on a journey as ancient and true as a son’s desperate search for a father whose undead life may not be worse than the broken existence he left behind. Bennett Sims brings an allusive genius energy to everything from YouTube to Euripides in this inquiry into what survives the onslaught, in a world–our world, we come to recognize—suffering a major case of apocalypse fatigue."
"A Questionable Shape is part George A. Romero, part Thomas Bernhard—as much an epistemology of the zombie as it is a thriller. So fascinating are its—and, within the constraints of its topic, so wide-ranging - that reading it I often had the unusual experience of pausing to wander down some byway of thought and finding myself unable to say whether I had ventured there independently or was remembering a footnote from earlier in the book. It's playful, absorbing, bittersweet, and intelligent, and, like a bite, it gets under your skin."
"How would the textures of ordinary life be altered by the return of the recently dead? What would zombie consciousness itself be like? Would it gravitate toward the most powerful memories and impressions of life? Or is a zombie a creature on whom habit operates more powerfully than novelty? In A Questionable Shape, the spectacular horror of zombies has been removed to the background. Instead, this novel is about walking, driving, reading, waking up, going on dates, taking care of friends and parents and children, grocery shopping. It also includes some of the most exquisite descriptions of light that I have ever read. Striking, beautiful, funny, and not like anything else."
Bennett Sims is the author of the novel A Questionable Shape, which received the Bard Fiction Prize and was a finalist for The Believer Book Award. He is a recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society Fellowship. His fiction has appeared in A Public Space, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story, as well as in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. He has taught at Bard College, Grinnell College, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Read an interview with the author here:
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PRINT ISBN: 978-1-937512-63-7
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-937512-64-4
RELEASE DATE: 9/12/2017
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"