Certainly the loneliest, most vortex-addled epistolary novel I’ve read. A correspondence in letters viewed from a single side, we only know as much about Emma as our narrator responds to; in lieu of it we get moments of boxing obsession, micro-particle data, a tripodal dog, and the accidental wisdom of the weak and delirious. A thin thing so good it’s a struggle not to race through—but give it time; the strangeness may unlock much for you.— Jack
Sixty-two letters from a nameless protagonist comprise this epistolary novel. He writes them to Emma, a woman he sees at a party. Each entry captures the loose, disparate details of daily life, including desires, frustrations, joys, social observations, anecdotes, advice, and the self, as depicted through emotional weather updates. Emma’s replies are not revealed, but the narrator’s persona is as he philosophizes and courts the object of his affection. He is a fan of boxing, a scientist by trade, and a student of the “vortex”—an entity he uses to describe his self-deterioration and the emptiness in his life. Together, the letters reveal the internal dialog of a conflicted protagonist who shadowboxes Emma, himself, and even the reader.
Bill Callahan is a singer-songwriter who formerly performed under the alias Smog. He has released 14 albums under both the alias and his own name. He lives in Austin, Texas.
“There are two categories of insight: the one that elicits a mild shrug of respectful recognition, and the occasional complete table-turner—the insight that goes beyond the commonplace—that eats away at your psyche like a boll weevil in the biscuit tin. It is the latter kind that mournful minstrel Bill Callahan trades in.” —Independent
“The handsome volume is another surprising entry in Drag City's publishing project and shows an even more poetic, personal side of Callahan than you're likely to find on record!” —Dusty Groove America