Synopses & Reviews
The much-anticipated new novel by Christopher Sorrentino, acclaimed author of National Book Award finalist Trance
—a bracing, kaleidoscopic look at truth and fiction, love and obsession, loyalty and betrayal, race and identity, chaos and free will.
Sandy Mulligan, a successful writer in the midst of a personal and creative crisis, retreats from Brooklyn to the quiet Michigan town where he hopes to finish a novel and to escape his turbulent private life and the scandal that’s maimed his public reputation. Once there, he becomes fascinated by John Salteau, a native Ojibway storyteller who regularly appears at the local library.
But Salteau is not what he appears to be—a fact suspected by Kat Danhoff, an ambitious Chicago reporter who arrives to investigate a theft from a local Indian-run casino. Salteau’s possible role in the crime could be the key to the biggest story of her stalled career.
Bored, emotionally careless, and sexually reckless, Kat immediately attracts a restive Sandy. In their growing involvement with one another, each becomes a pawn in the other’s game. As we weave among these characters, learning about their lives and motivations, and uncovering the conflicts and contradictions between their stories, we realize that the storyteller is not the only one with secrets to conceal; that all three are fugitives of one kind or another.
All the Sorrentino touches that have thrilled admirers are here: sparkling dialogue, satirical wit, attention to the details of everyday life, dizzyingly inventive prose—but it is the deeply imagined interior lives of its all-too-human main characters that set this novel apart. Moving, funny, tense, and mysterious, The Fugitives is a love story, a ghost story, and a crime thriller. The Fugitives also is a cautionary tale of twenty-first century American life—a meditation on the meaning of identity, on the role storytelling plays in our understanding of ourselves and each other, and on the difficulty of making genuine connections with others in a contemporary world that’s connected in almost every way. Darkly satirical, exuberantly enigmatic, and completely unforgettable, The Fugitives is an event that reaffirms Sorrentino’s position as an American writer of the first rank.
Praise for TRANCE
"Like Don DeLillo in Libra and Philip Roth in American Pastoral, Christopher Sorrentino has opened the pages of his fiction to the breadth of collective memory, and the result is one of the most humane and haunting novels I've read in years...Sorrentino possesses a searing gaze, a polymath's erudition, and a lover's ear for the frailities of human language."
"Trance is a work of startling insight, marvelously and masterfully evoking the grim stuff of true American nightmares."
"Playful, scathing, gripping, and profound, this book is a meditation and a provocation, full of humor and menace. Sorrentino has broken new ground at the border of fiction and history."
"An ambitious, intelligent, and kaleidoscopically opulent book, remarkably evocative of the textures and tones of the seventies. Sorrentino has a talent for creating authentic, microscopic moments that capture the spirit of the era."
"This sprawling work is so ambitious and irreverent that it doesn't fit easily into any genre...Full of descriptions sublime in their precision...Trance is a pleasure ot read -- delightful and often funny."
—Los Angeles Times
"[Sorrentino] remains a virtuoso, and much of the success of this book is due to his writing skill...[He] is an insightful, sensitive writer who makes you believe you're seeing what he's describing."
—Harvey Pekar, The Baltimore Sun
"Big and ambitious...Its method and scope are breathtaking."
"Sorrentino has something of Don DeLillo's ear for American white noise -- for the hiss and crackle that fills the country's derelict spaces."
—New York Times Book Review
"Echoes of Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, and Hunter S. Thompson...Trance lives up to its title -- it's a brilliant, hallucinatory fever dream of Americana, one that we have yet to wake up from."
"A full-blooded lampoon...hilarious, satiric...Trance's charming gift, among others, is respect for the reader's acuity in deciding whether it was a pretty picture. Or not."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"One of the year's most surprising works of fiction...amazing...context vibrates out of the sentences, rather than being foisted on the action from above...It takes novels like this one to bring us back to the moment, to return our icons to us as flesh and blood, almost."
—John Freeman, The Boston Globe
"Sorrentino's vision here is kaleidoscopic, eliding fluidly from individual to individual, taking on a wide array of points of view."
—David L. Ulin, Newsday
"Transcendent...By using the skeleton of what is known to portray people whose minds no one will ever truly understand, Sorrentino gives us a new understanding of our past and future, and a fresh way to consider the ideological movement that can appear so confident in their control or resistance."
"Trance is a tour-de-force, announcing a mature and ambitious talent."
"[A] masterfully omniscent and suspenseful novel. Braiding history with invention, devilish humor with psychological veracity, telling detail with a big-picture perspective, bursts of rapid dialogue with gorgeous description and arresting inner monologues, Sorrentino satirizes with a light yet penetrating touch."
—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"A demanding, raw, and fascinating epic."
"Even more than DeLillo's Libra and Doctorow's The Book of Daniel, Trance works to strip the 'event' of its historical cover, to not only humanize it but reduce it to the mundane and everyday...Trance doggedly dismantles the pedestal of celebrity and myth."
—The Village Voice
"A skeptical, occasionally corrosive perspective...Sorrentino's writing is smart and vibrant, slangy when necessary, and always appropriately allusive. Jammed with acute observations and a good deal of humor."
—The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Substantial...Cleverly reinvents this story with a handsome helping of historical and contemporary satire."
—The Times (London)
"A tour de force...Trance is a bravura epic that unfolds cinematically yet with linguistic brilliance...Tackles unfolding events from a multiplicity of perspectives with intelligence, insight, and a darkly comic flair."
—Tina Jackson, Metro (London)
"A powerful satire of American myth-making and of the hidden forces that work against our attempts to discover a true history."
—John Burnside, The Scotsman (UK)
"Particularly impressive is Sorrentino's protean writing...the comprehensive arc of humanity astounds. Trance is an epic, epoch-defining achievement, up there with the finest works by Don DeLillo."
—The Sunday Telegraph (London)
"Magnificent...funnier than anything so serious has a right to be. Sorrentino hits the key notes of the era perfectly...Sorrentino's solid-gold satire, a contender for Great American Novel status, is wise to both the honor and hypocrisy of middle-class militants. Scathing and sensitive, Trance will make you its willing captive."
"Sorrentino is a wickedly talented writer...His sense of humor is as sharp as it is savage...A work where unmitigated brilliance and staggering prose is interlaced."
"Christopher Sorrentino gives us Trance, a beautifully successful -- indeed, heroic -- attempt to restore to us what is surely one of the great American folk stories of the twentieth century. Trance is a full-blown opera -- an epic documentary fiction, a post-Coover In Cold Blood--presenting a harmony of hundreds of points of view."
—The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Praise for SOUND ON SOUND
“Sorrentino has used the rock book format (and his superbly pompous ‘multitrack’ device) as a vehicle for a brilliant and complex novel about remembered truths and modern ennui...gasps of bright poetry...eloquent prose.”
—Patrick Barber, Los Angeles Reader
“...reading rock’n’roll has never been a particularly rewarding experience...but by handling submediocre musicians with cynical wit and an inventive kind of non-storytelling--and by being admirably unmindful of SPINAL TAP--Sorrentino gives the rock novel some hope.”
—Marc Weidenbaum, PULSE!
“Flawlessly executed...sheer virtuosity...funny, perceptive and dead-on the satirical mark.”
"As a sardonic condemnation of the bloated egos of rock 'n' roll, it's a ten-minute drum solo with flaming cymbals."
“Sound On Sound gives the impression that its main concerns are satiric and metafictional, yet (paradoxically perhaps) it takes it material seriously. In his way, Sorrentino honours rock'n'roll...Sorrentino's kind of literary subversion also makes indirect contact with serious social and political issues. Themes of homophobia, mental illness, and junk culture are not silenced by Sorrentino's mass of irreverent white noise.”
—Doug Harkness, VOX (Calgary, Alberta)
“Writers like Christopher Sorrentino bring us back to the pleasures of reading. And there is a lot of intelligent material to chew on here. This book works like a hypertext; the chapters can be read in any order. So in that way it's totally contemporary while continuing to converse with Modernism."
— Alexander Laurence, American Book Review
From National Book Award finalist Christopher Sorrentino, a bracing, kaleidoscopic look at love and obsession, loyalty and betrayal, race and identity, compulsion and free will...
Sandy Mulligan is in trouble. To escape his turbulent private life and the scandal that's maimed his public reputation, he's retreated from Brooklyn to the quiet Michigan town where he hopes to finish his long-overdue novel. There, he becomes fascinated by John Salteau, a native Ojibway storyteller who regularly appears at the local library.
But Salteau is not what he appears to be--a fact suspected by Kat Danhoff, an ambitious Chicago reporter of elusive ethnic origins who arrives to investigate a theft from a nearby Indian-run casino. Salteau's possible role in the crime could be the key to the biggest story of her stalled career. Bored, emotionally careless, and sexually reckless, Kat's sudden appearance in town immediately attracts a restive Sandy.
As the novel weaves among these characters uncovering the conflicts and contradictions between their stories, we learn that all three are fugitives of one kind or another, harboring secrets that threaten to overturn their invented lives and the stories they tell to spin them into being. In their growing involvement, each becomes a pawn in the others' games--all of them just one mistake from losing everything.
The signature Sorrentino touches that captivated readers of Trance are all here: sparkling dialogue, narrative urgency, mordant wit, and inventive, crystalline prose--but it is the deeply imagined interior lives of its characters that set this novel apart. Moving, funny, tense, and mysterious, The Fugitives is at once a love story, a ghost story, and a crime thriller. It is also a cautionary tale of twenty-first century American life--a meditation on the meaning of identity, on the role storytelling plays in our understanding of ourselves and each other, and on the difficulty of making genuine connections in a world that's connected in almost every way.
Exuberantly satirical, darkly enigmatic, and completely unforgettable, The Fugitives is an event that reaffirms Sorrentino's position as an American writer of the first rank.
About the Author
Christopher Sorrentino is the author of five books, including Trance, a National Book Award Finalist for fiction. His work has been widely anthologized, and has appeared in A Public Space, BookForum, Esquire, Fence, Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Los Angeles Times, McSweeney’s, The New York Times, Playboy, Tin House, and many other publications. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and he was Writer-in-Residence at Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2011. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, the New School, Fairleigh Dickinson, and at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, where he is a core faculty member.