Matt Bell
Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

celebrating the release of

In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods

from SoHo Press

with a special presentation by Matt Bell accompanied by Red Boat Opera

In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife's beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.

This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage's success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.

Matt Bell is the author of CATACLYSM BABY, a novella, and HOW THEY WERE FOUND, a collection of fiction, as well as three chapbooks, WOLF PARTS, THE COLLECTORS, and HOW THE BROKEN LEAD THE BLIND. His fiction has appeared in many magazines, including CONJUNCTIONS, HAYDEN'S FERRY REVIEW, GULF COAST, WILLOW SPRINGS, UNSAID, and AMERICAN SHORT FICTION, and has been selected for inclusion in anthologies such as BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES and BEST AMERICAN FANTASY. He teaches creative writing at Northern Michigan University, and previously taught at the University of Michigan. He is the senior editor at Dzanc Books, where I also run the literary magazine THE COLLAGIST.


Critical praise for Matt Bell:

"This is a fiercely original book—at once intimate and epic, visceral and philosophical—that sent me scurrying for adjectives, for precedents, for cover. Matt Bell commands the page with bold, vigorous prose and may well have invented the pulse-pounding novel of ideas." —Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins and We Live in Water

"Matt Bell does not write sentences—he writes spells. He is not a novelist—he is a mystic. This book, which will grip you in an otherwordly trance, reads like something divined from tea leaves or translated from a charcoal cipher on a cave wall." —Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon, The Wilding, and Refresh, Refresh

"In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is a big, slinking, dangerous fairy tale, the kind with gleaming fangs and blood around the muzzle and a powerful heart you can hear thumping from miles away. The story's ferocity is matched by Matt Bell's glorious sentences: sinuous and darkly magical, they are taproots of the strange." —Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia

"There is a power here that is almost overwhelming. The force of the writing is derived from something elemental and primal. Unlike anything I have read in a long time." —Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

“A masterful debut, pure genius, so lovely and brutal it feels like a dream. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is a stunning work of fiction—it has the innovative, mind-bending power of Borges and Calvino, but it is like nothing you have ever read before.” —Dawn Tripp, author of Game of Secrets

“Bell puts the fable in fabulism… This spare, devastating novel… is as beautiful as it is ruinous. A tragedy of fantastic proportions, the book’s musical, often idiosyncratic prose will carry its readers into an unfamiliar but unforgettable world.” —Molly McArdle, Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Meticulously designed, with a particular focus on the musicality of its sentences… an unflinching portrait of the struggle to keep a family intact.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A challenging, boldly experimental attempt at myth-building.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s impossible that anyone else could have written such a thing. It’s a novel that—as Borges wrote of Kafka—invents its own precursors… what Bell accomplishes here is something that doesn’t happen very often: he has invented an entirely new rhetoric of fiction and marked unique territory of his own.” —Andrew Ervin, Tin House

“A gorgeous, bottomless book.” —Ploughshares

“Unlike anything else in contemporary literature today… a deeply moving story, both intimate and universal, told so ingeniously and meticulously it is sure to become a modern day classic.” —Kristy Webster-Milton, Thursday Review