“In this razor-sharp alternate history, Gerrard imagines the United States — mainly New York — shaped by a mysterious piece of technology: an odd sewing machine-like device called the Epiphany Machine that tattoos a short, pithy truth on a person’s arm.”
Featured in Washington Post’s 5 Best Fantasy Books of 2017.
Mr. Gerrard makes this masterpiece work as a believable machine that people want to use and create viable growing importance of the machine in contemporary culture, much as he makes the characters seem real and true.
David Burr Gerrard received an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. His first novel has appeared in The Awl, The LA Review. Gerrard sharp deployment of allegory-mode speculative voice is brilliant. In this book, he portrays dark tragicomic tracing of the inevitable, unavoidable trajectories of human failure in the inherent entwinement of self-knowledge/blindness and relationship with others.
This alluring and brilliantly historical fiction novel moves quickly and keeps up the interest with well-developed characters and strong, morally complex storylines. The novel depicts the issues of truth, accountability, privacy, destiny, responsibility, our inability to see what is obvious to everyone but us, and our susceptibility to our ancient enemy in our self-rationalization of morally wrong actions. It is full of implications and similarities in tone to Kafka, Joyce and Wm. Burroughs, as well as smart nods to literature and writing.
A small group of town residents invests into this belief of the epiphany machine, together with Venter Lowood’s parents. This disgrace follows them after they move upstate, where Venter can’t ignore the whispers of teachers and neighbors any longer and understands the machine’s correct predictions: his mother’s abandonment and his father’s neutrality. Therefore when Venter’s grandma finally asks him to confront the epiphany machine and protect himself against his family’s mistakes, he’s all too happy to indulge.