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American Elsewhere Paperback – February 12, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316200204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316200202
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mona Bright, a former police officer, is surprised to learn that she’s inherited a house from her deceased mother. She’s even more surprised to learn that the house is located in Wink, New Mexico, a town that, according to various sources, including maps, doesn’t seem to exist. Curious to learn more about her mother’s past and about this odd little town, Mona takes up residence in the house. But she didn’t count on Wink being full of dark secrets and on the people of the town being determined to keep them that way. The novel starts out curious and odd but quickly becomes terrifying and haunting, as the author reveals more about the people of Wink, who just may be the most curious and intimidating collection of folks you’re likely to meet outside the pages of Stephen King. We, like Mona, feel the town closing in on us, trying to take us over. A beautifully written, claustrophobic, and deeply memorable horror novel. --David Pitt


"American Elsewhere conjures up echoes of the best works of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. ... American Elsewhere manages to surprise, terrify and move the reader."—Los Angeles Times

"This wonderful offering is perfect for fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman."—Library Journal

"Highly impressive."—Kirkus Reviews

"Bennett's novel may remind readers of the early works of Stephen King, presenting a small town where nothing is what it seems.... Bennett's work also evokes a mood similar to that of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, where every darkness may swallow a person only to spit them out into a place akin to Wonderland."—RT Book Reviews

"Bennett gives the idealized image of the American dream a pan-dimensional twist with this alien invasion tale, part Bradbury and part L'Engle with a dash of Edward Scissorhands... Readers will be captivated from start to finish."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on American Elsewhere

"The novel starts out curious and odd but quickly becomes terrifying and haunting, as the author reveals more about the people of Wink, who just may be the most curious and intimidating collection of folks you're likely to meet outside the pages of Stephen King.... A beautifully written, claustrophobic, and deeply memorable horror novel."—Booklist

"Mad and humorous, gory and poignant, American Elsewhere is a sort of mid-20th-century retelling of the embodiment of Lovecraftian Elder Gods by way of Alamogordo's legendary atomic tests. It's not to be missed.—Seattle Times

"So American Elsewhere is basically so good that I want to camp outside @robertjbennett's house until he tells me his secret."—Adam Christopher

Customer Reviews

Good story line, good characters, and written well.
Steve H.
I also felt so deliberately distanced from the main character that I just didn't care what happened.
David H
I normally read a book a day, but not one 662 pages long.
Doug Reedy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Robert Jackson Bennett is a masterful creator of unclassifiable fiction. Is American Elsewhere science fiction, fantasy, or a horror story? Is it a crime novel? A mystery? A satire? Is it an allegory of insular life in small town America, a commentary on intolerance of outsiders? A send-up of the illusory wholesomeness of small town life? A wry take on motherhood and dysfunctional families? Maybe it's a conundrum wrapped in a paradox soaked in a one hundred proof fever dream. Fortunately, you don't have to categorize American Elsewhere to enjoy it.

The quirky residents of Wink know there are places in Wink you just don't go. It's best, in fact, to stay inside at night. You might want to gaze at the moon, but you're never really sure whose sky it's in. You don't ever go into the woods because you might encounter ... well, nobody in Wink really wants to talk about that. Other things about Wink are strange -- rooms you enter that keep going forever, mirrors that relocate the objects they reflect, the way time is broken (or maybe it's just bruised). People don't want to talk about that either. In fact, they can't, under penalty of ... well, they can't talk about the penalty, but you wouldn't want to experience it.

Mona Bright, a former cop, can barely remember her mother. When her father dies, she is surprised to learn that she has inherited her mother's house -- surprised to learn that the house exists, in a town she's never heard of in New Mexico. Mona's mother worked for a lab outside of Wink that did research into quantum states. These days, Wink is difficult to find, as Mona discovers when she searches for it. She arrives just in time to disrupt the funeral of Mr. Weringer, Wink's most popular resident and a victim (if you believe the rumors) of homicide.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Susannah St Clair Foxy Loxy VINE VOICE on March 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wonderfully Creepy

There are several really great reviews for this book. I know because I read them . TChris has the most perfect. It says it all and he says it WELL. But just for the record, its a GREAT book! I like how it slowly unwinds . The gentle oddities, the weirdness within this very attractive little town that pulls you in. Reminds me of a train pulling out of the station. Slowly, ever so slowly accelerating and then whoosh... off it goes and your reader along with it.
The language is fun and interesting. The characters vivid. Mrs. Benjamin is my all time favorite. As the story unfolds the mystery about Wink unfolds and it turns into a delightful science fiction nightmare. Delightful because your really not sure where this ride is taking you let alone how it might end. I just enjoyed the strangeness of it all. I loved the way the horror, mystery and science fiction were woven like a brilliantly colored glass necklace where there are drops of gold and drops of blood all along the length of it.
Such a great fantasy. The imagination running at top speed. If your an avid reader of anything unusual and different, this book is for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Raso on March 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
Nestled in a valley beneath a vast mesa is a small town called Wink, New Mexico. Don't bother to look for it on a map, it won't be there. It was built to support a scientific laboratory located atop the mesa. It's a curious little town. All the homes are perfect with immaculate lawns. The people look exactly as they should and do exactly what they should. The local radio station plays Buddy Holly and the television station plays "Ozzie and Harriet" reruns. It's a quiet idyllic little place; just don't go out at night.

Mona Bright has inherited a home in Wink that belonged to her mother who died when Mona was just five years old. Her mother had worked as a physicist at the laboratory before marrying her father. Mona sees this as an opportunity to learn more about her.

The theme of the book is mothers; what a mother should be and how children view them. Mona is searching for her lost mother and so are the inhabitants of Wink. They feel abandoned and long for her to return. Yet was their progenitor right to do what she did and what were her motives?

This fantasy novel explores theories on pan-dimensional reality. The laboratory was doing quantum physics research on bumping or "bruising" dimensions adjacent to ours when something came through.

Even though this book was long, it was an engaging and quick read. I enjoyed the New Mexico setting. I could picture the landscape and the people who populate Wink. The plot was sometimes creepy and strange, but I never lost interest. The only problem I had was with the main character Mona. She always seemed a few steps behind in understanding what was going on. Her character is important so the reader should think she is awed or confused about the bizarre occurrences not totally slow and dense. I understood everything long before she did which I found frustrating. Otherwise, this book was a fun read and I will be looking for more books by this author.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Horror Novel Reviews on August 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
"You can only stay terrified and confused for so long. After a while, it unfolds and flowers into despair." - `American Elsewhere'.

This is a book that is somewhat of an ungainly beast, not simply due to its bulky seven hundred page run but because of its wobbling aspirations to confound, terrify and, at notable intervals completely befuddle the reader in disparate quantities. It's certainly a tale with an abundance of, at times, bewildering and slyly wrought creativity but it's also a novel that up until it's closing chapters is clearly extremely reticent to reveal its hoary old antecedents in horror fiction for fear of perhaps disengaging reader attention as there are `things' in here that the seasoned horror aficionado has certainly come across before.

Bennett opens with an intriguing and confusing episode involving a crew of home invaders that very quickly sets the dizzying and sinister tone of what is to follow. This is a somewhat botched burglary whose participants offer us a glimpse of the decidedly odd events that are to follow. Bennett shifts narrative focus from this confounding event in the town known as `Wink' to his young primary character, Mona Bright; a woman with a past that is at first glance, entirely disconnected with the events in this strange New Mexico town. Mona has been called to a reading of her father's will, a man she thinks of as a "horrific skinflint", whose worldly goods are shuttered away in a storage unit in Montana City. Faced with "such an imposing pile of tottering s*** that she is almost faint with the idea of sorting it" she decides to take a 1969 cherry-red Dodge Charger and a box containing old photographs and documents pertaining to her mother who died of an apparent suicide when Mona was very young.
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