The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets


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“In fluid, bubbling prose, and with a good deal of plaintive humor, Ms. Alcott has written a beautiful story of love and heartbreak.”

–The Wall Street Journal

“…a debut novel that deftly perverts our normal notion of what a family is…[Alcott] is a skilled storyteller, and her  understanding of just how dangerous it can be to love someone worms its way through almost every sentence.”

The Boston Globe

“The narrative…expertly interweaves Ida’s current reflections with her introspection about past events, some simple and innocent, others complex and appalling…All add dimension to each character and help establish the emotional depth of a well-told story. An accomplished debut.” 

—Kirkus

“Heartbreaking, honest, and wholly engrossing, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets dredges the depth of love that divides us, unites us, and folds in on itself until we’re nearly crushed under the sweet ache of its weight.”

Bookslut

The Danger of Proximal Alphabets reminds us that untangling the knots of our lives can sometimes be more threatening than cutting them off completely…[Alcott] shows us how deeply pain can be tied to love, and she takes us on a quest that highlights the mythic proportions of both in our lives. Alcott’s ability, in the end, to intelligently parse out the positive aspects of a painful childhood and still celebrate the comfort they give us makes Proximal Alphabets a worthy coming-of-age novel.” —Tottenville Review

“An excellent work of cerebral, lifelike fiction; it illustrates how fractured people use each other to mend themselves into full people, and how even bonds that strong can break.”

Timestage Embassy

“The Dangers of Proximal Alpabets is a powerful and emotionally resonant novel that beautifully and with rare precision explores the magnetic danger of love. Alcott has found a language for the unsayable. At one point Ida worries that she has inherited her father’s capacity of never forgetting. I, for one, am very grateful for her memory.”

-Peter Orner, author of Love and Shame and Love

The Danger of Proximal Alphabets is a novel as fugue state between childhood obsessions and adult behaviors. It exists in the gaps between memory and hope, between love and obligation. Reading it, you will at once be sixteen again, drinking a beer somewhere you shouldn’t, sure that the entire world lives inside your heart, beating three times as fast as it should.”

—Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

“Every once in a while a book comes along that you didn’t know you were missing until you found it. The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is one of those books: dreamy and captivating, it nestles up inside of you, even as it tells you a devastating tale. What a wonderful debut for Kathleen Alcott.”

-Jami Attenberg, author of The Melting Season and The Kept Man

“To say I adored this book would be an understatement. I fell so hard into the wise, strange world Alcott creates for her characters that closing this book was like waking up from a dream I never wanted to end. A powerful debut from a writer I expect to see a lot more from.”

-Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is a wholly original and moving work, a nuanced consideration of the complicated ways in which we love and fail one another. A lovely and intelligent debut.”

-Emily St. John Mandel, author of Last Night in Montreal and The Singer’s Gun

“The initial sense of beauty and sweetness between the two [Ida and Jackson, (siblings by marriage)] is tempered by uncomfortable intensity and claustrophobia…and what emerges as a whole is an emotional narrative that is not easy or relatable but that sparks with convincing pain and nostalgia.” 

—Publishers Weekly

Forthcoming from Other Press in September of 2012, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets centers around Ida and her neighbors, somnambulist brothers James and Jackson, and the unconventional family model they build. Ida’s fascination with their unconscious behavior and the conversations they have in their sleep manifests in ways that grow more troubling as they grow older. Jackson and Ida develop a romantic relationship spread thin into adulthood, and his sleep-life becomes more dangerous. In an attempt to mitigate the violence Jackson executes towards her while sleeping, Ida begins supplying him with artistic materials. To her wonder and his shame, he produces haunting, touching works that gain a following he asserts he doesn’t deserve; he can only produce them while sleepwalking. His brother James, while no longer a sleepwalker, descends into mental illness that leaves him similarly feeling like other forces are at the helm of his life. With the disintegration of Ida and Jackson’s relationship, the three, along with their respective single parents, try to understand the implications of families found versus those we’re born into.

Read excerpts

Pre-order:
http://www.amazon.com/Dangers-Proximal-Alphabets-Kathleen-Alcott/dp/1590515293

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781590515297

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