Today we live in a “glut of images.” What does that mean? Men and Apparitions takes on a central question of our era through the wild musings and eventful life of Ezekiel Hooper Stark, cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, specialist in family photographs.
We are the Picture People. I name us Picture People because most special and obvious about the species is, our kind lives on and for pictures, lives as and for images, our species takes pictures, makes pix, thinks in pix.
What is behind the human drive to create, remake, and keep images from and of everything? What does it mean that we now live in a “glut of images?” Men and Apparitions takes on a central question of our era through the wild musings and eventful life of Ezekiel Hooper Stark, cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, specialist in family photographs. As Ezekiel progresses from a child obsessed with his family’s photo albums to a young and passionate researcher to a man devastated by betrayal in love, his academic fascinations determine and reflect his course, touching on such various subjects as discarded images, pet pictures, spirit mediums, the tragic life of his long-dead cousin the semi-famous socialite Clover Adams, and the nature of contemporary masculinity.
Kaleidoscopic and encyclopedic, madcap and wry, this book that showcases Lynne Tillman not only as a brilliant original novelist but also as one of our most prominent thinkers on culture and visual culture today.
Praise for Men and Apparitions by Lynne Tillman
Selected as "1 of 60 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018" by Huffington Post
Selected as "1 of 101 Books to get excited about in 2018" by BookRiot
Named to "Most Anticipated Fiction of 2018" by Chicago Review of Books
Named "One of the Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2018" by Big Other
One of Dennis Cooper's Favorite Books of the Year
"Zeke is an American consumer, though what he consumes is not material goods but media, endlessly cataloging and referencing the contents of his own mind, often in lieu of visceral experience. . . . Tillman's novel is a patient, insistent exploration of what it means to live inside such a mind. . . . There are elements of it that brought to mind writers as diverse as Ali Smith and Saul Bellow, Joy Williams and A. R. Ammons, but the cumulative effective is sui generis." --The New York Times Book Review
"[A] ruminative and amusing novel . . . At times aphoristic . . . the book succeeds as a gentle satire of generational self-absorption and emotional disengagement." --The New Yorker, Briefly Noted
"A beautiful meditation on photography." --Colm Toibin, The Guardian
"Lynne Tillman's new novel, Men and Apparitions, makes a better case for women writing men . . . Tillman isn't a writer you look to for plot-forward work, and Men and Apparitions is no exception, but neither does it coast on the clumsy charm of its narrator, though it could. Instead, it's interested in something much more cerebral, and much more difficult to distill into a 600-word review. As I read it, I realized it was doing something I haven't seen convincingly accomplished in any recent literature: It captures the feeling of life in a society that's focused more on the quick consumption of a massive amount of text and images than it is on experience . . . This is a scourge of modern life, a high-res lens through which we see our fractured world, and one captured with melancholic clarity in Men and Apparitions . . . Men and Apparitions begins as a book about men, and becomes one about everyone." --The Portland Mercury
"Cult-favorite Lynn Tillman's latest novel, Men and Apparitions, takes readers for a rollicking, frolicking, outstandingly original ride that explores the roots of feminism, the death of masculinity, and the cultural identities we've gleaned along the way, all while making us question everything we've ever known and taken for granted." --PopSugar, 1 of 20 Best Books to Read This March
"In a novel that overflows with obsessive, encyclopedic energy, her characters luxuriate in self-conscious play, double meaning, and provocative inquiry. The result is a work that enlarges our understanding of what the novel can be--and the sense of self we take for granted . . . Tillman writes pictures the way Jeanette Winterson writes the body: with great and counterintuitive attention to detail, theorizing and revising as she goes . . . If Men and Apparitions is an image, it's a Polaroid--maybe a haunted one--that someone hands you as it's still developing. Tillman insists that there are formal and social conventions yet to be upended and rethought. Even if she doesn't achieve it herself, the magic is that you can see them materializing in your hand . . . These layers are part of her brilliance in conveying the self-in-progress." --The New Republic
"Lynne Tillman lends her remarkable talents to answer questions about today's obsession with images. Through the eyes of cultural anthropologist Ezekiel Hooper Stark, she asks: What is behind the human drive to create, remake, and keep images?" --Bustle, 1 of 15 Best Fiction Books of March 2018 to Kick Off Your Spring Reading
"Men and Apparitions is a work of fiction as ventriloquy by a winking puppet. If it is criticism, too, it knowingly undermines its own arguments . . . Tillman is 71, but she delves deeply into the psychology of a man half her age. In many ways, Men and Apparitions is a portrait of Generation X: caught between the analog and the digital, economic prosperity and recession, the sexually objectifying gender stereotypes of the Bush-Clinton years and the Obama-era gender revolution, Gen-X men are cleaved by history, left raw and ready for the malaise of middle age." --Los Angeles Review of Books
"Lynne Tillman's much anticipated new novel after 12 years revolves around a cultural anthropologist who turns his anthropological lens on masculinity, art and memory. A profoundly wise and remarkably supple novel from an outstanding writer." --Chicago Review of Books, "Most Anticipated Fiction of 2018"
"A grab bag of a book, mixing text and image, fiction and nonfiction, material about the character (his history and relations) and essayistic takes on art and photography and masculinity . . . The idea, for her, is to explore family, identity even, as something that we want to preserve, to hold onto, even as time insists we can't." --Barnes & Noble Review
"In Men and Apparitions, photography is both machine and magic. . . . Zeke's mind is agile, funny, stylish, but follows its own interior logic, moving quickly through complex knots of ideas and references that start where he is interested, and stop when he is no longer. . . . Reading Men and Apparitions . . . I thought of J. D. Salinger and his Glass family, all of whom narrate their stories with the same offhanded, articulate intelligence as Zeke. . . . I thought of the photographer Philip Steinmetz and his work about family photo albums, a six-volume sociological 'portrait' of himself and his relatives, in which he and his family members both are and are not themselves." --The White Review
"With callouts to a mind-revving roster of photographers, writers, filmmakers, intellectuals, and media magnets, erudite, discerning, and everdaring Tillman has forged a mischievous conflation of criticism and fiction. Incantatory, maddening, brilliant, zestful, compassionate, and timely, Tillman's portrait of a floundering academic trying to make sense of a digitized world of churning, contradictory messages reveals the perpetual interplay between past and present, the personal and the cultural, image and life." --Booklist (starred review)
"Men and Apparitions tells a fully human story while miraculously feeding one's mind with the complex narrator's observations about childhood, family, photography and representation, self and self-understanding, culture, and the art and fallibility of seeing." --Lydia Davis, Literary Hub
"Tillman, it seems to me, is not a writer who invents characters and moves them through the machinery of plot. Rather, she seems to inhabit other minds--or she lets them move through her, like a medium. . . . The book is a study of visual culture, like Susan Sontag's On Photography or John Berger's Ways of Seeing. Or the book acts as a seismograph, registering shifting patterns of gender identity and its relationship to power." --The Rumpus
"Will appeal to readers with a particular interest in cultural criticism . . . Tillman is a risk-taker with a wide-ranging mind who likes to experiment with the novel form. This extremely cerebral exercise is studded with fascinating observations and commentary. Literary collections will want to acquire it." --Library Journal
"A timely . . . exploration of modern masculinity . . . There is much to admire . . . Charming." --Publishers Weekly
"A smart and sleightful novel . . . Over the four hundred pages of Men and Apparitions, Zeke is by turns analytic, emotional, distanced from his own tale, and immersed in others' histories . . . In some respects, there is an orthodox novel of late-twentieth-century American family life lurking inside Men and Apparitions, but the novel is more essay collection than cross-generational saga . . . Most of [Tillman's] constellating of culture is sharp and sharply expressed . . . Among its many other wise and witty lines of thought, Men and Apparitions is a vexing inquiry into the recent sexual-political past." --Bookforump>"As a steadfast Lynne Tillman fan, I am grateful for her authentically weird and often indescribable books. She gives me permission to continue to try to write such work myself." --Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments and The Guardians