Synopses & Reviews
“Like Franklin’s discovery of the electricity we do know, Monson’s luminous, galvanized book represents a paradigm shift. The frequencies of the novel have been scrambled and redefined by this elegant experiment. Other Electricities is a new physics of prose, a lyric string theory of charged and sparkling sentences. What a kite! What a key!”—Michael Martone
“Monson is tuned in to our crackling, chaotic, juiced-up times like no other young writer I know. Other Electricities is necessary reading.”—Robert Olen Butler
Meet “Yr Protagonist”: radio amateur, sometime vandal and “at times, perhaps the author” of Monson’s category-defying collection:
I know about phones. While our dad was upstairs broadcasting something to the world, and we were listening in, or trying to find his frequency and listen to his voice . . . we would give up and go out in the snow with a phone rigged with alligator clips so we could listen in on others’ conversations. There’s something nearly sexual about this, hearing what other people are saying to their lovers, children, cousins, psychics, pastors. . . .
The cumulative effect of this stunningly original collection seems to work on the reader in the same way—we follow glimpses of dispossessed lives in the snow-buried reaches of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, where nearly everyone seems to be slipping away under the ice to disappear forever. Through an unsettling, almost crazed gestalt of sketches, short stories, lists, indices and radio schematics, Monson presents a world where weather, landscape, radio waves and electricity are characters in themselves, affecting a community held together by the memories of those they have lost.
Ander Monson is the editor of DIAGRAM and the New Michigan Press. He teaches at Grand Valley State University and lives in Michigan. Tupelo Press recently published his poetry collection, Elegies for Descent and Dreams of Weather.
"Monson's inventive collection illuminates the barren landscape of Michigan's snowbound Upper Peninsula with a glittering mosaic of short stories, lists, instructions, poetic obituaries and illustrations of radio schematics. His interconnected vignettes flash across a region that is 'now in some ways a place only for ghosts and tourists,' revealing a smalltown cast of characters defined by shared loss. The ice frosting the roads, crusting Lake Superior exerts an inexorable pull on these people, spinning their minivans, swallowing their snowmobiles, claiming young and old and drunk and sober. While they mourn the disappeared and deceased, their self-destructive impulses battle deeply rooted survival instincts that flourish despite impoverished and circumscribed lives. Artful metaphors resonate throughout: snow is sustenance and death. Radio waves displace language and imply an unbridgeable gap between people. Liz, a drowned high school student, embodies needlessly lost youth. Monson alternates more narrative pieces with second-person instructive messages, such as 'Instructions for Divers: On Retrieval,' about extracting wrecks from the lake, that evoke with immediacy a harsh existence. In 'The Big 32,' a catalogue of descending temperatures and their corresponding events, Monson writes that at 11 degrees, 'tears freeze complete, nosehairs froze twenty degrees ago; so crying will get you nowhere.' Monson's is an original new voice, and this poignant, lyrical collection conjures a powerful sense of place." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A category-defining collection of stories charts a strange, new direction in American fiction.
Uncompromising, hypnotic and darkly humorous, Other Electricities charts a new and strange direction in American fiction.
About the Author
Monson edits the magazine DIAGRAM <>and the New Michigan Press. His work has appeared in many literary magazines, including The North American Review, Fence, Field, Gulf Coast, The Bellingham Review, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and Mississippi Review. Tupelo Press will publish his poetry collection, Elegies for Descent and Dreams of Weather, in 2005. He teaches at Grand Valley State University.