A Tricky Balance: Book Club Round-Up

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“How do you satirize something that’s already a parody of itself?” asks Michael Schaub of NPR in his write-up of Andrew Altschul‘s Deus Ex Machina. Schaub finds Altschul’s attempts to do so pretty successful, calling the novel brilliantly observed and praising the book for showing how “there’s not much reality in reality television, and even good intentions can be corrupted to a horrifying degree when money and ratings are involved.”

The WSJ‘s Speakeasy blog features Altschul’s essay about researching Deus Ex Machina and his realization that reality TV is basically just pornography. Hint: A certain website based out of the San Francisco Armory building features prominently.

The SF Chronicle profiles Deus Ex Machina, revealing Altschul’s fragile and sometimes tortured relationship with the reality TV genre.

Brooklyn Rail finally explains what “deus ex machina” refers to.

Join PBS host Jeffrey Brown in an Art Beat conversation with Altschul, Joshua Ferris, and Hannah Tinti, about the state of writing today (video clip).

Over at Book Forum, John Dennin compares Pacazo, by Roy Kesey, to Don Quixote, writing: “In cutting a classic wide swath, Pacazo exposes itself to risk, a tricky balance between hilarity and horror. By and large, though, this rangy novel earns its claim to the old knight’s inheritance.”

Two more Pacazo reviews: one from a Rumpus book club member, and another from Rumpus reader John Anastasia.

At Xenith blog, Chelsea Biondolillo explores Women of the Rumpus 1, finding gems within the rough.

Orion has featured one of the Rumpus Poetry Club writers, Aimee Nezhutumatathil, in its Jan/Feb issue. Her poem Kottayam Morning reflects the slow morning sounds of Kerala, India.

On The Millions, Edan Lepucki looks at different approaches to author bios, and includes Book Club alum John Brandon, who worked at a Frito-Lay warehouse while writing Citrus County, in the list.


Maddie Oatman has interviewed musicians and writers for The Rumpus. She's the research editor at Mother Jones, where she also writes. A Boulder transplant, she can often be found on her bike, skis, or cooking with vegetables, and she wrote her English thesis on a gay red-winged monster and Billy the Kid. Follow her on Twitter or read occasional musings on her blog Oats. More from this author →