The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel


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Molly waters the voice

He and another friend, Josh Archambault, who is a network engineer in the finance world, helped me to think about the attack that shuts down the internet. But I hope that beyond that network engineers and other internet-savvy folks who read the book will find that the tech stuff all passes the smell test. Trump Sky Alpha is almost modernist in a way. As Joyce presumed or hoped that his readers had knowledge of Latin, Greek, and a few Romance languages, your novel rewards familiarity with memes and the rules of the telephone game of meme-culture.

The imagined riffs on Hillary and Pepe the Frog were spot-on. The effect is a book that feels incredibly now, that risks being read as dated in, say, five years. With a lot of novelists in recent years opting for historical, fabulist, or allegorical settings, what interested you in running straight at rendering our political moment? There was a debate in the s about including brands in novels that I believe centered around the brand-crammed American Psycho.

Moby-Dick may be the great example of a book filled with outmoded technologies and terminology that has lasted.


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And the book was more or less forgotten for decades, until it was celebrated starting in the s, which shows how slippery and arbitrary these things are. Fashions come and go.

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Books come and go. On a long enough timeline, all of our books go unread. I love fragmentation in novels. We live in fragmented times, and my own brain certainly sees things more as a collection of fragments than as a unified whole. I see the novel as an eating machine, a technology that allows us to bring in many voices, many forms, many types of information: poems, memes, bureaucratic documents, weather reports, playscripts, and on and on.

Robert Louis Stevenson

With this book I knew from the start that I wanted multiple voices and perspectives, and the art becomes trying to figure out how much you can bring in and still end up with a relatively cohesive whole. The Subversive inspires copycat cyberattacks in an extremist version of the author-reader dynamic. What drew you to placing a novel at the center of a global cataclysm? And how did you come to incorporate the Philippines into the story?

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A lot of credit goes to my partner, Paul Nadal, who was completing his dissertation on English-language Philippine novels at the same time I was working on Trump Sky Alpha. Just as the internet is a global system, it goes without saying that a nuclear apocalypse is by definition a global event. Meanwhile, in my own research for the book, I kept running into connections between global communications networks and the Philippines.

Book editors have a kind of aerial view of the contemporary novel, as they see so many more manuscripts than the rest of us. But the point was that whatever you were doing, there was somebody else in the community who knew where you were, who you were, and whether or not you were in difficulty.

Neighbors and people who walked by. And they all knew. So they knew each other. But, you know, those were the—that was a real community. And he gets home. I remember travelling on trains when my children were small, going from, say, Washington back to Ohio. And in some of those places when we were travelling in the South, not with my children but before, there were cars where colored people sat. And where white people sat in other cars. But the most important thing was the porters, who gave you twice as much orange juice, or four sandwiches and two pillows.

There were so excessively generous and kind. So it was like a luxury car, I suppose, to what they thought. And I was thinking not too long ago that if I walked down the street at night in Ithaca, New York, when I was at Cornell, and if I saw a black man, I would run toward him. Then I thought, These days, with all of the discussion about black men as threats, I would not do that. I may not do that. I might just have to flip a long haul by myself.

And figure it out along the way. You know, we have Guitar and Milkman, on and on and on. It used to be sheer absence. That language is, you know, manipulated and strangled in such a way that you get the message, although the veneer of accuracy and forthrightness is there. And where they can eat. And I got a copy of it, as a matter of fact, from the library at Princeton, so that I could have him go there and have porters, or preachers, or friends that he had met in a restaurant, tell him where he could sleep or take him in.

At all. But I never used the word. But I wanted home, the actual place that he loathed and wanted to leave, because it was small and boring and whatever, to be so welcomed by him and the reader. So I withheld all color—of trees, flowers, whatever—until he got really close to home. And then he says, Were the trees always this green? And the flowers are this. So that you know without—. And it was fascinating to read and notice that, that the atmosphere was drained of color.

That if you just simply did what Judy Garland did and open the door—. Well, not quite that simple [ laughs ], but they were not under the control of the authoritarian of the black town that had grown almost like the enemies they were running from, where they were excluded themselves. And so they translated that into the superiority of blackness and control and maleness and authoritarian. There are a few men in the town that do, but the major ones, you know, who run that town, get together and slaughter them.

I mean, there are lots of places in the world where this happens. See, my thing is this.

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I think that in the beginning [ laughs ], you know, there were a lot of female gods, goddesses, in the early civilizations, because men thought that women just gave birth. Whenever they felt like it or wherever it was due. And then they began to farm. And they had domesticated animals, and domesticated animals could reproduce in three months.


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  5. Gabriel John Utterson serves well as the book's narrator because he.
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  7. Or one month. Short time. We are. Without us, nothing! So all the gods changed names.

    THE VOICE AT THE BACK DOOR by Elizabeth Spencer | Kirkus Reviews

    There was some little girly gods around. That came a little bit later. What I was most interested in—I looked at these histories of the black towns in Oklahoma, and out west, and in Kansas, and there were pictures in newspapers of men who were mayors or whatever, the administration of these black towns, and the ad was always, Come prepared or not at all.

    Josh Turner - Your Man (Alexander Eder) - The Voice of Germany - Blind Audition

    Come prepared or not at all. And they were all very fair, these guys who were standing there with hats. And I thought, Well, maybe if—what do you mean? They were poor.

    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel
    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel
    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel
    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel
    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel
    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel
    The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel The Voice at the Back Door: A Novel

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