Forthcoming February 2023 with Coach House Books
All talk, no action: The Mezzanine meets Ducks, Newburyport in this meandering and captivating debut
It’s a hot summer day, and Hugh Dalgarno, a 31-year-old clerical worker, thinks his brain is broken. Over the course of several hours in an uncannily depopulated public park, he will sift through the pieces and traverse the baroque landscape of his own thoughts: the theology of nosiness, the beauty of the arbutus tree, the pathos of Gene Hackman, the theory of quantum immortality, Louis Riel’s letter to an Irish newspaper, the baleful influence of Calvinism on the Scottish working class, the sea, the CIA, and, ultimately, thinking itself and how it may be represented in writing. The result is a strange, meandering sojourn, as if the history-haunted landscapes of W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn were shrunk down to a mere 85 acres.
These digressions are anchored by remarks from the letters of Keats, by snatches of lyrics from Irish rebel songs and Scottish folk ballads, and, above all else, by the world-shattering call of the red-winged blackbird.