This Friday we have a sneak peek into Matt Bell’s In the House Upon the Dirt between the Lake and Woods excerpt.
In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife’s beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.
This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage-and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.
Bell is an editor at upstart independent press Dzanc, has been widely praised for the dark and utterly unique worlds he creates. His first novel is being labeled brilliant and will likely break him out as literary stylist and innovator in the mold of Calvino or Kafka.
“Bell puts the fable in fabulism…. This spare, devastating novel…is as beautiful as it is ruinous. A tragedy of fantastic proportions, the book’s musical, often idiosyncratic prose will carry its readers into an unfamiliar but unforgettable world.”
–Library Journal, starred review
“A novel of catastrophic beauty and staggering originality.”
“In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods shatters narrative convention to deliver an allegory with the compelling power of mythology…Though unrelentingly heartbreaking, this debut novel wrings such beauty from pain that readers will relish every shred of sorrow.”
“Meticulously designed, with a particular focus on the musicality of its sentences…. an unflinching portrait of the struggle to keep a family intact.”
“No less original or thought-provoking than contemporary fabulist stalwarts like Aimee Bender or Etgar Keret, [he] expands the scope of experimental writing.”
–Fiction Writers Review
“Challenging, boldly experimental.”
“Matt Bell joins the company of the great fabulists like Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino, or closer to home, the American masters, Steven Millhauser, John Crowley, and Thomas Pynchon…. A book full of wonders.” –American Book Review
“[Bell’s] fiction is honest and raw, frightening and powerful.” –Bookslut