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Fiction Chronicle

May 2012

The unheimlich maneuver

by Stefan Beck

On The Vanishers, by Heidi Julavits, Hope: A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander, Gods Without Men, by Hari Kunzru, and Varamo, by César Aira.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the ability to order books online. One can avoid all manner of ghastliness. The public library usually furnishes whatever queer and misbegotten tome I’ve gone in search of, but too often it furnishes darker things besides—such eldritch sights as one might fear from a place with rules against “being less than fully clothed” and “misusing” the restroom “including [by] bathing.” Although used bookstores yield the odd treasure, I am by no means one of those antiquarians who finds himself, tentacles—er, spectacles—askew, intoxicated by a pungent bouquet of spores, molds, and fungus. Chain bookstores provide their own species of the unspeakable. Last time I went to Barnes & Noble, I saw a sign advertising Teen Paranormal Romance. As some might say: Oh my Elder Gods.

Back when “ro ...

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Stefan Beck is a writer living in Hudson, New York. He has contributed on fiction and other subjects to The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and elsewhere.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 May 2012, on page 47

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