The Disintegrations (University of Wisconsin Press)
In this innovative, haunting autobiographical novel, McCartney recounts his lifelong obsession with death.
“I know nothing about death, absolutely nothing,” asserts the narrator of this inventive autobiographical novel. Yet he can’t stop thinking about it. Detached from life in Los Angeles and his past in Australia, uncomfortable around other humans, he researches death on the Internet; mulls over distant and intimate stories of suicides, serial killers, and “natural deaths”; and wanders about LA’s Holy Cross Cemetery. He’s looking for answers, all the while formulating his own disquieting philosophies.
Within this dizzying investigation into the mystery of death is another mystery: who is the companion igniting these memories? This enigmatic novel blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, story and eulogy, poetry and obituary. Wry yet somber, astringent yet tender, The Disintegrations confronts both the impossibility of understanding death and the timeless longing for immortality.
Praise for The Disintegrations
“A book that takes possession of you right from the opening and will not let you go. Challenging and gripping, a rumination on death and memory that speaks eloquently to our sense of loss, both personal and communal. The writing is exquisite. In the best possible sense, I know this book will haunt me for the longest time.”—Christos Tsiolkas, author of Barracuda
“Engrossing and reverent, The Disintegrations strangles death. A philosophy of the concrete and a reckoning of the ethereal, this novel dreams of all that has become lost in a world of remainders. We who remain may not find relief, but it leaves us dazzled and astonished and brutally satisfied with a gratitude for living.”—Lily Hoang, author of A Bestiary
“An uncanny and mesmerizing study of the dread and terror in contemplating death as both remembrance and disappearance, and an intimate reveal of how our fears of erasure are a ghostly double for our awe at being alive.”—Manuel Muñoz, author of What You See in the Dark
“In this long-awaited second novel, a narrator’s fascination with the geography of a nearby cemetery becomes a map of the losses and disappearances that have defined his own life. As he sorts through half-memories of deaths both notorious and obscure, a composite emerges of violent light and seductive shadow, a Book of the Dead—and a Book of California.”—Joyelle McSweeney, author of Dead Youth, or, The Leaks
“An awe-inspiring tour de force, a circuitous thanatopsis, a maze that constantly reiterates its structure until everything it contains is subsumed within a new ulterior obfuscation. McCartney not only shows us that death is a language unto itself but also provides us with a dictionary with which to parse it.”—Mark Gluth, author of No Other
Alistair McCartney is the author of The End of the World Book, a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award in Fiction. He teaches creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles.
David Francis' first novel Agapanthus Tango was published in seven languages. His second, Stray Dog Winter, was named Novel of the Year in the Australian Literature Review and won an American Library Association Stonewall Prize for Literature. His most recent novel, Wedding Bush Road, was released in November 2016. David's short fiction has appeared in Best Australian Stories,Meanjin, Griffith Review, Southern California Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Rattling Wall, Los Angeles Times and Harvard Review. David is Vice President of PEN Center USA.