Michael Seidlinger: The Strangest

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Michael Seidlinger The Strangest
  • Название:
    The Strangest
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    OR Books
  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2015
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    e9781682190012
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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The Strangest: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Michael Seidlinger has dared tackle one of the literary classics of the 20th century literature and reimagined it for the 21st: and in Albert Camus’ anti-hero Meursault, at once apathetic and violent, unable to connect with his fellow humans, Seidlinger exhumes a perfect metaphor for the Internet Generation. Zachary Weinham, anchorless in terms of morals and committed to nothing except commenting on comments and their comments etc., finds himself involved in the sinister machinations of Rios, someone he meets in a bar, and allows himself to be set up — whether out of apathy or a desire for self-destruction it’s hard to tell. A murder ensues. Shunned by his friends and associates, not sure of what he has gotten into, Zachary heads for confrontation with society — and his own moral values. “For a line to exist, it would first have to be crossed.” "A smart adaptation indeed of a hallowed classic, repositioning it for a grimmer world three-quarters of a century on." " is a stark and deliberate analysis of life in the 21st Century. Its evaluation of not just social media, but modern presence and its adaptation of what I’ll refer to here as a the new human condition, is, much like Camus’ , authoritative and convincing. Of the string of, or even genre of, contemporary works concentrated on these themes, I found Seidlinger’s to be, thus far, the most concise and expressive." "[Seidlinger] takes us into the consciousness of a person so withdrawn that he must have some sort of social anxiety disorder; every bit as affectless as Camus’s , his smartphone is his only lifeline of communication with people, even when they’re right on the subway with him. I like how the author constructs the protagonist’s consciousness, with the integration of social media being elegant and measured, and I particularly like a few pivotal scenes where what is happening is carefully elided by the author — it’s very effective." “Step back Camus, your anti-hero has been fragmented and dispersed via the free-fall of social media. Michael J. Seidlinger’s re-visioning enters the anthropocene without apology or oxygen masks, and asks us to take the trip toward self discovery as if the self was moving particles. A kick-ass ride. A beautiful dismemberment.” — Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children “When I was in high school, I read in French. . I was not an A student in French. Maybe a B. Minus. My accent was ‘formidable!’, my grammar and reading comprehension ‘médiocre’. I never looked at that book again, in any language. Now I actually have read Michael Seidlinger’s uniquely compelling . Am I supposed to now go back read a book of a lesser superlative? This book not only lives up to its title, it does so with impeccable rhythm and a perfectly odd, discomfiting grace befitting of this tale of strangeness updated for our strange present.” — Elizabeth Crane, author of “If anyone at any time is in search of a novel that renders the dysphoria and fragmentation experienced by the first generation to live through social media, then he or she should begin with . Like Camus, Seidlinger does not so much describe anomie as write from it; the result is a strangely resonant book that feels, above all else, honest.” — Will Chancellor, author of “ is a bold and stirring portrayal of the alienation of contemporary life, how technology amplifies our desire for approval and magnifies the horror of others’ judgment.” — Sarah Gerard, author of “The world that Michael J. Seidlinger navigates in is one in which the dying battery of a mobile phone provokes more emotion than a dying tree or child, told by a man whose sole value lies in the affirmation of his online persona, each comment and ‘like’ tallied one by one. Not since Seidlinger’s last book have I encountered the chilling terror of Paul Bowles and his dissonant, virtually toneless minimalism, nor the evisceration of contemporary life that Michel Houellebecq delivers, ruthless as a diamond with a broken heart. Camus himself, I think, would affirm this homage to his famous book, with a solemn nod, perhaps, and the crushing underfoot of his last cigarette. For myself, I’m as nauseated as I am lifted, as redeemed as appalled. If you want a vision of life without a soul yoked to one of ways to smash it, step into this void. The lesson is relatively short, but its benefits are sure to go on and on.” — D. Foy, author of

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Michael J. Seidlinger


The Strangest

~ ~ ~

Michael Seidlinger dares tackle one of the literary classics of the 20th century literature and reimagine it for the 21st: and in Albert Camus’ anti-hero Meursault, at once apathetic and violent, unable to connect with his fellow humans, Seidlinger exhumes a perfect metaphor for the Internet Generation. Zachary Weinham, anchorless in terms of morals and committed to nothing except commenting on comments and their comments etc., finds himself involved in the sinister machinations of Rios, someone he meets in a bar, and allows himself to be set up — whether out of apathy or a desire for self-destruction it’s hard to tell. A murder ensues. Shunned by his friends and associates, not sure of what he has gotten into, Zachary heads for confrontation with society — and his own moral values.


“For a line to exist, it would first have to be crossed.”

The Strangest

You are no stranger than you are foolish to think that you are different from anyone else.

— SOME VOICE

Part One

1

Someone died, I don’t know. It’s pretty obvious that someone died. People die every minute. When it hits home, it’s plain and clear. Someone died. You can’t just say it’s a coincidence.

I got the phone call. I made sure to make a note of it.

Someone called. Apparently someone died.

Based on the number of likes and comments, it looks like it’s a big deal. But then again, tonight is like most nights: Not worth remembering. I don’t believe much of anything if it isn’t there in the morning.

I tell myself, it’s real if it’s still there. I remind myself. I think it’s something worth considering.

It sounds bad.

Get there in the morning — skip the hospital, the person on the phone said the funeral is tomorrow. Halfway across the city.

I never travel that far, not for anything.

Wish I could just build a big pillow fort and live there for the rest of my life. That’s a good one. Statuses like that get at least a couple dozen likes. People feel the same way. They see what it’s like when people die. It feels, well it feels like being forced to do something. I shouldn’t talk. I’m not like this. This isn’t me.

This isn’t me.

They don’t like it so I delete it. I post it again, this time with a picture of someone I don’t know. That one catches on.

The phone call, though — the voice was so unfamiliar, it probably was someone I knew.

“He’s dead,” the voice said.

“Dead.” I don’t pick up the phone. I don’t know why I picked up the phone. I never pick up the phone. I don’t like talking on the phone. I have to be eating something in order to talk on the phone, so I started on the only food near me, day-old pizza or something. “You are crying.”

“Andrew, oh my god …”

“Oh my god,” I say it because I have nothing else to say.

“He … I knew he was having trouble, but I didn’t think …”

Didn’t think. What am I thinking right now?

Death and coping with death: The Downer Story of the Year. In twelve steps you find out who you really are. A few people seem to agree. One reply, Fuck you Meurks. I have a lot of haters. Everyone says to ignore the trolls but the trolls know how to really get to you. The good ones, anyway. This is not a good one.

I have nothing to say so I don’t say anything. She keeps talking, sobs at one point and then, clearing her throat, she tells me about the funeral. Details.

“We’re all getting together after the funeral. Like old times.” Then she starts sobbing again. Tears, I imagine.

This is where I say something.

And then she says something.

And then I say something back, but it’s not what she expected. She kind of laughs, and expects it. Says, “Zachary, always the one that makes it awkward. If I didn’t already know you, I’d hang up.”

Is this a compliment?

I don’t know.

I don’t say anything else because I don’t have to say anything else. I don’t have to say anything. I just listen to her breathing and then I listen to her telling me again, one last time, about the funeral. I think this is where the call ends but I stay on the line until the dial tone stops.

Because I was on the phone, I have to play catch up. A lot has happened since the call. Likes, retweets, blogs, reblogs: I think about the person that died. There’s nothing there. “Andrew.” Who is this “Andrew?”

And then I open a new tab and start writing out a blog post:

That feeling that you get when you know you should be doing something but you don’t know what it is you’re supposed to be doing and the feeling that’s missing when something bad happens and everyone but you feels it: This is now. This is where I am, currently. What’s your current mood? Meurks is asking, you might as well respond.

They respond.

People go on and on about their problems.

When they have an open forum, they go on forever.

It’s a lot easier to not listen when you don’t have to stare at a person face-to-face.

Then I remember:

Funeral tomorrow. I could probably not go, but my name is in the program.

Should I go to a funeral if I’m expected to be there?

Followers respond like a guilty conscience. Mostly “yes” with a “but” that has to do with if anyone else is expecting me. I think for a moment. Nothing comes to mind.

I look up from the screen; I look at the laptop set in front of me. I look around my apartment. It must have gotten dark since I sat down. The sun was up before I got the call, long before any of this began.

I think about turning on a light. The thought passes.

Then I remember, my name in the program.

If my name is in the program?

This time they answer, “yes” with no “buts” and then I stand up, pacing the entire length of my bedroom until I stop at the one lamp I own. I turn on the light. I turn it off. I look outside, seeing that the streets have a busy night ahead.

Must be Friday.

Or Saturday. Or Sunday.

Not Sunday. I had work today.

I won’t have work tomorrow.

I quickly blame this “Andrew” for the fact that I will have to travel tomorrow. But at least I get off from work.

I should probably call my boss.

Phone drains before I can get to his number.


Tomorrow feels a whole lot like today except I am outside with a bunch of people, 31 people to be exact. 31 people sounds like a lot. It’s a lot for a funeral. How many people do you want at your funeral, and how many do you think will cry? I hold onto my phone, making sure to monitor how much battery is left. There’s no outlet here. There should be, but then there wouldn’t be any trees. Or … grass. There wouldn’t be any graves. We wouldn’t be outside if there were outlets. We shouldn’t be outside.

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