The Bend of the World
A Liveright book
"A comedy of bad manners, darting wisecracks, deadpan chagrin, and drug-hazed pratfalls" (James Wolcott), The Bend of the World is a madcap coming-of-age novel in which no one quite comes of age and everything you know is not a lie, it's just, well, tangential to the truth.
In the most audacious literary debut to come out of the Steel City since The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, we meet Peter Morrison, twenty-nine and comfortably adrift in a state of not-quite-adulthood, less concerned about the general direction of his life than with his suspicion that all his closest relationships are the products of inertia. He and his girlfriend float along in the same general direction, while his parents are acting funny, though his rich, hypochondriac grandmother is still good for admission to the better parties. He spends his days clocking into Global Solutions (a firm whose purpose remains unnervingly ambiguous) and his weekends listening to the half-imagined rants of his childhood best friend, Johnny. An addict and conspiracy theorist, Johnny believes Pittsburgh is a "nexus of intense magical convergence" and is playing host to a cabal of dubious politicians, evil corporate schemes, ancient occult rites, and otherwise inexplicable phenomena, such as the fact that people really do keep seeing UFOs hovering over the city.
Against this strange background, Peter meets Mark and Helen, a slightly older couple, new to town, whose wealth and glamour never fully conceal the suggestion of something sinister, and with whom he becomes quickly infatuated. Mark is a corporate lawyer in the process of negotiating a buyout of Global Solutions, and initiates Peter into the real, mundane (maybe) conspiracies of corporations and careers, while Helen—a beautiful and once prominent artist—is both the echo and the promise of the sort of woman Peter always imagined, or was always told he ought to find for himself.
As Peter climbs the corporate ladder, Johnny is pulled into the orbit of a mysterious local author, Winston Pringle, whose lunatic book of conspiracies seems to be coming true. As Johnny falls farther down the rabbit hole, the surreal begins to seep into the mundane, and the settled rhythm of Peter's routine is disrupted by a series of close encounters of third, fourth, and fifth kinds. By the time Peter sets out to save his friend from Pringle's evil machinations (and pharmacological interventions), his familiar life threatens to transform into that most terrifying possibility: a surprise.
In The Bend of the World Philip K. Dick meets Michael Chabon, and Jacob Bacharach creates an appropriately hilarious, bizarre, and keenly observed portrait of life on the edge of thirty in the adolescent years of twenty-first-century America.
- April 2014
- 5.9 × 8.6 in
/ 320 pages
- Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.
Endorsements & Reviews
“You could be forgiven for calling Bacharach's voice otherworldly, but thankfully for us all it's wonderfully, warmly human. An excellent debut and a hell of a good story.” — Joshua Ferris, author of The Unnamed
“Mighty strange doings in the Pittsburgh of Jacob Bacharach's mind-tripping debut novel The Bend of the World: a regular X-Files-a-go-go where yeti, UFOs, rumors of orgiastic rites, intimations of Mayan apocalypse, and 'psycho-temporal distortions' add that extra zing to the bustling night life…The Bend of the World in its biting, microcosmic portrait of our wackadoo republic makes me proud and ashamed to be an American but most of all happy to be a reader of Jacob Bacharach's—damn, is he sharp.” — James Wolcott, author of Lucking Out and Critical Mass
“An audacious, hilarious, and aptly surreal satire of the state of America in this new, uncanny century, as well as a brilliant portrait of a new generation of fledgling adults. The Bend of the World will talk to the generation now approaching thirty in the way that Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh spoke to my own twenty-five year ago.” — Dan Chaon, author of Stay Awake and Await Your Reply
“Jacob Bacharach has a great comic voice—shrewd, deadpan, and dirty—and The Bend of the World fears no weirdness. This should do Pittsburgh proud.” — Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask
“Ever wonder what would happen if The Mysteries of Pittsburgh were mugged in a dark alley by a cocaine-addicted Sasquatch? Well, wonder no more. Just buy this book and enjoy.” — Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
“Bacharach’s surreal novel is inarguably amusing, a trippy exercise in ontology. But because alcohol is imbibed and drugs are ingested, the truth is both clear and unclear. So what is reality and what is imagined or, better, hallucinated? Ultimately, it’s left to the reader to decide, for it’s ambiguity that rules Peter’s world.” — Michael Cart, Booklist
“The understated, conversational tone and deadpan humor in Bacharach’s first novel make this an immensely entertaining read with a Vonnegut-like sensibility.” — Lauren Gilbert, Library Journal
Also by Jacob Bacharach