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In the Electric Eden: Storiesby Nick Arvin
Synopses & Reviews
Writer and former engineer Nick Arvin layers his knowledge of technology, mechanical design, and human character into a collection of emotionally riveting stories. With a subtle hand he transports readers through history and across America to ten poignant and utterly unforgettable places: a traffic accident in the middle of the heartland; the electrocution of Topsy the elephant at Coney Island at the turn of the century; the backyard of an old recluse; a Marine Corps practice invasion of the Florida beaches; a romantic tryst in a dismal corporate office; the launching of the first manned American hydrogen balloon in the eighteenth century; and more. Constantly aware of how technology shapes the way we interact with each other and experience the world, Arvin uses these original settings and compelling characters to create a moving collection of stories that, though seemingly unlinked, comes together to form a stunning, awe-inspiring whole.
"Arvin comes to fiction via engineering, and his understanding of technology and those who create it infuses his first book with a unique and mesmerizing power....Arvin's complexly structured and psychologically dynamic stories are as discerning as they are incandescent." Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"While Arvin's prose often centers on the inner workings of things on the near-mechanical level...the emotions are always real....One wonders why only one of these stories has been published before, and what?s likely to happen when this author shifts to a longer form that will allow his vision the breadth it really needs to develop and grow. Accomplished and promising." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] cleverly conceived but uneven debut collection....Arvin, a former engineer, strikes a rich cultural vein, but has yet to smoothly mesh machine lore and fluent storytelling." Publishers Weekly
"Nick Arvin comes from a background most people probably wouldn't expect. A student of engineering and ex-employee of the Ford Motor Company, Arvin stands defiantly against the idea that engineers know nothing about human emotion. In The Electric Eden is full of just that, and is a vibrant read that will grab your attention over and over again." Jesse L'argent, Hybrid Magazine
"[A]n auspicious debut that sparkles with an intelligence matched only by its equal measure of compassion for what makes people all too human....There isn't a bad story in this collection; not one I wanted to skim or skip altogether." Mindi Dickstein, St. Petersburg Times
"Nick Arvin's debut collection of stories is an alluring exploration of the ethical ambiguity of technological advances....Throughout the collection, Arvin examines how individuals position themselves within a world of changing technologies — and as an engineer himself, he recognizes that it is at the level of the individual that technology makes its impact." Rain Taxi
"These stories read like twisted classics: if Raymond Carver and Ethan Canin had a love-child who was adopted by Ward and June Cleaver and raised in a depressed industrial Midwestern city but then ran away from home with a transsexual trapeze artist and rode boxcars across the country until he was rescued by George Saunders who convinced him to go to graduate school, he would take on the pen name of Nick Arvin and write a book called In the Electric Eden." Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York and Out of the Girls' Room and into the Night
"Nick Arvin is a terrific writer! In the Electric Eden shows a variety of people interacting with each other while struggling with technology — both current and historical. The prose is direct, the wisdom is earned, and the stories very fine indeed." Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes
"In these intrepid, clear-eyed stories, Nick Arvin skillfully maps the limbo between who we are and who, with the aid of newly bright lights and a machine or two, we think we wish to be. The result is a wonderful, surprising, and — yes — illuminating debut." John Burnham Schwartz, author of Claire Marvel, Reservation Road, and Bicycle Days
In this dazzling debut, Arvin, a former engineer, layers his knowledge of technology, mechanical design, and human character into this collection of ten emotionally riveting stories that, though seemingly linked, come together to form an awe-inspiring whole.
About the Author
Nick Arvin was born and raised in Michigan, received a degree in engineering from Stanford, and spent three years in product development at the Ford Motor Company before leaving to earn his MFA in Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop. He has recently been awarded a Michener Grant, and his stories have been published in The Black Warrior Review.
Table of Contents
In the electric Eden — What they teach you in engineering school — Commemorating — Electric fence — Radio ads — Telescope — The prototype — Two thousand Germans in Frankenmuth — Take your child to work — Aeronautics.
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