A Floating Life: A Novel

A Floating Life: A Novel

4.9 14
by Tad Crawford
     
 

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“Equal parts science fiction, magic realism, and hard-boiled detective story, A Floating Life is a dizzying journey through a fragmented landscape of ideas deftly rendered into a seamless, spellbinding narrative in the lineage of Borges, Castaneda, and Philip K. Dick.”—Kenneth Goldsmith, author of I'll Be Your MirrorSee more details below

Overview

“Equal parts science fiction, magic realism, and hard-boiled detective story, A Floating Life is a dizzying journey through a fragmented landscape of ideas deftly rendered into a seamless, spellbinding narrative in the lineage of Borges, Castaneda, and Philip K. Dick.”—Kenneth Goldsmith, author of I'll Be Your Mirror

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A nameless narrator bumbles through a series of bewildering nightmares linked only by the flimsiest narrative thread in Crawford’s disjointed debut. The protagonist ricochets between two realities: in one, he is addled by mundane afflictions (e.g., erectile dysfunction) and finds work as an assistant in a shop called the Floating World, which specializes in model boats and miniature canal systems. The store’s owner, Pecheur, dreams of using these models to harness the destructive power of the ocean for the good of humanity. The narrator’s other reality is a shifting landscape wherein he awakes time and again from horrifying fantasies—from a cage suspended above a bottomless pit to a ravenous family of talking bears. This is Crawford’s approximation of the floating world, “the Buddhist concept of a world filled with pain came to mean the transient and unreliable nature of our world, how fleetingly it floats in the illusion of time,” but the execution is buoyed more by concept than plot. It is an experiment in storytelling, but without motivated characters and dramatic tension, it fails to tell a story at all. (Sept.)
Howard Frank Mosher
“Talking bears, talking dogs, time travel and a mid-life crisis: Tad Crawford's brilliantly original and entertaining first novel, A Floating Life, brings South American magical realism to 21st-century America in a mesmerizing story of one man's search through the realms of myth, history, and the human psyche to explore love, friendship, family ties, vocation and, in the end, what it means to live in an ultimately mysterious universe. Tad Crawford is an utterly fearless writer who will and does go wherever his wonderfully anarchic imagination takes him.”
Melvin Jules Bukiet
“By turns charming and ominous, whimsical and philosophical, A Floating Life is a multi-layered, shape-shifting miracle of a first novel.”
Nick Lyons
“A haunting, unusual, sui generis, and wonderfully sustained novel that also manages to be hilarious. I loved it.”
Booklist
“Crawford’s mastery of slowly revealing the content of a chapter, combined with his skillful description of landscape and character, adds reality to an essentially surreal narrative. . . .The elements of the picaresque and magic realism, blended with quirky, surreal humor, should appeal to readers with a taste for the literary and the strange.”
Nelson W. Aldrich
“Throughout this fantastical saga of privation, like Odysseus’s voyage without a homecoming, like Dante’s tour without a guide or a Beatrice, Crawford’s narrator recounts his amazing adventures in a mesmerizing diction of long-suffering cool. His losses are nearly total: spouse, child, occupation, property, potency, clothes (repeatedly), safety, and friends. In the end, in his memory and ours, we are left an account of magical encounters with imaginary creatures: a litigious dachshund, a terrifyingly helpful bear, a man called Pecheur who doesn’t fish (men or fish). They cannot save him – often, indeed, they imperil him – but they can enchant our world. They did mine.”
Kirkus Reviews
In Crawford's world, boundaries, especially those between people, are semipermeable membranes with tenuous connections to reality. At times, Crawford seems to be channeling Kafka or Borges, a feeling reinforced when, at a party his unnamed narrator engages a vaguely familiar woman in conversation. She informs her interlocutor that she's written a letter to her husband, outlining his deficiencies and the hopelessness of their marriage. The narrator finally figures out whom he's talking to--his wife. Equally dreamlike sequences emerge from this one. The couple decides to live in separate bedrooms in their apartment, but when this turns out to be unfeasible, the narrator goes to look for a new place to live. The real estate agent he talks to firmly rejects some of the narrator's choices and eventually tells him he'd be happy in a small efficiency, but the building is being constructed under this apartment, deep in the ground, so in a surreal way, the apartment is actually a penthouse. One of the most important connections the narrator makes is to The Floating World, a weird and elusive shop where one can buy model ships, something the narrator starts to develop an intense interest in. The shop is located in a brownstone with no identifying marks, and its proprietor is a Dutchman who goes by the nautical name of Pecheur. Over time, the narrator and the shopkeeper become quite close, the latter taking on the narrator as an assistant. In addition to the death of Pecheur, the narrator ultimately must also confront his erectile dysfunction as well as the dilemma of waking up in an infirmary where he breastfeeds an infant, rather unusual since the narrator is a man. Odd, offbeat and strangely shimmering.
From the Publisher

"The climax resolves all satisfyingly and surprisingly. The elements of the picaresque and magic realism, blended with quirky, surreal humor, should appeal to readers with a taste for the literary and the strange.”
Booklist

“Odd, offbeat, and strangely shimmering.”
Kirkus Reviews

"[Crawford's] refreshing style brings surprise and fun back into fiction.”
New York Journal of Books

“Tad Crawford is an utterly fearless writer who will and does go wherever his wonderfully anarchic imagination takes him.”
—Howard Frank Mosher, author of A Stranger in the Kingdom

“Through this fantastical saga of privation, like Odysseus’s voyage with homecoming, like Dante’s tour without a guide or a Beatrice, Crawford’s narrator recounts his amazing adventures in a mesmerizing diction of long-suffering cool.”
—Nelson W. Aldrich Jr., author of Old Money

“By turns charming and ominous, whimsical and philosophical, A Floating Life is a multilayered shape-shifting miracle of a first novel.”
—Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of Strange Fire

“Equal parts science fiction, magic realism, and hard-boiled detective story, A Floating Life is a dizzying journey . . . a seamless, spellbinding narrative in the lineage of Borges, Castañeda, and Philip K. Dick.”
—Kenneth Goldsmith, author of I'll Be Your Mirror and Uncreative Writing

“A haunting, unusual, sui generis, and wonderfully sustained novel that also manages to be hilarious. I loved it.”
—Nick Lyons, author of Spring Creek

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611457025
Publisher:
Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
09/01/2012
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.00(d)

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