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Deus Ex Machina Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582436010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582436012
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,139,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An irreverently candid peek inside the entertainment industry, Altschul’s absurd and hilarious debut novel questions free will and reality as it roams godlike among 10 reality-show contestants, including a studly ex-marine, a sexy corporate lawyer, a street-smart gang-outreach counselor, and a flamboyant hairdresser as they do whatever they can to survive on a remote island and ensure their appearance on next week’s episode. The narrative lens also seamlessly sweeps among the disgruntled, gossip-hungry crew, whose job is to mold the cast’s alliances, betrayals, and sexual liaisons into a theatrical display that will boost ratings and keep them employed. Within the drama lurks the show’s aging, emotionally isolated producer, preoccupied by his dwindling career, waning sexual prowess, memories of his wife and her lover, yoga, and one of the contestants, a dental hygienist whose lack of participation he finds mysteriously alluring. As the camera jumps from character to character, from reality television to real life, Altschul brilliantly blurs fact and fantasy, entertainment and voyeurism, forming a smartly funny and timely montage that challenges the meaning of celebrity. --Jonathan Fullmer

Review

Praise for Deus Ex Machina

"Altschul takes his readers on a postmodern ride through reality television currently pulsing through American plasma screens." —The Weekender

"[Deus Ex Machina is] a dark fable about the depravities of contemporary life and the grotesque falsifications that undergird our reality-television culture, a familiar critique for fans of the postmodern metafictional tradition . . . Altschul lays out a fine carpet of literary prose that gives evidence of his commitment to craft." —The Believer

“As Andrew Foster Altschul observes in his brilliant new novel Deus Ex Machina, there's not much reality in reality television . . . One of the best novels about American culture in years . . . It's darkly funny in parts, but mostly it's terrifying in its urgency and plausibility, and it's impossible to look at television the same way after you've read it. You're forced to wonder whether reality TV—whether our country itself—could ever become the nightmare it is in Altschul's stunning, sad novel.” —NPR

"A beautifully written treatment on the anguish and uncertainty of being." - The Brooklyn Rail

"An irreverently candid peek inside the entertainment industry, Altschul’s absurd and hilarious novel questions free will and reality as it roams godlike among 10 reality-show contestants . . . Altschul brilliantly blurs fact and fantasy, entertainment and voyeurism, forming a smartly funny and timely montage that challenges the meaning of celebrity." —Booklist

“A fabulous (in all senses of the word) novel, Deus Ex Machina manages simultaneously to be philosophical, absurd, kinda dirty, hilarious and, well, real—an idea the book itself deftly excavates. Think Shakespeare’s The Tempest gone distressingly and wonderfully modern.” —Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

“Searing, riveting, shockingly smart, and imbued on every page with a wicked sense of humor, Deus Ex Machina dissects the modern moment like nobody’s business. Altschul fearlessly plunges into the heart of darkness—reality television—and finds the tragicomedy of our time there. Brave, bold, and moving work.” —Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below

“In his new novel, Andrew Foster Altschul has taken reality TV and turned it on its head, with characters that are sharp, funny, and ruthless. But if you look closer you’ll see another story, about the nature of identity and the layering of selves that speaks volumes on the abstraction of media, and what it means to truly connect with one another.” —Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

"Hilarious and wrenching, Deus Ex Machina trashes the absurdities of our media culture with a pleasing brio, while never losing sight of the inhumanity bred in this new domain of unchallenged corporate hegemony, where everything is subordinate to the Show. And it never lets us forget that no one is immune from—and that everyone is accountable for—all of our toxic dreams of power." —Jim Shepard, author of Project X and Like You’d Understand Anyway

More About the Author

Andrew Foster Altschul is the author of two novels: "Deus Ex Machina" and "Lady Lazarus." He is an O. Henry Prize-winning short story writer, with work published in Esquire, Ploughshares, McSweeney's, Fence, and elsewhere. After a brief and undistinguished career as an alternative-rock DJ and music journalist, he turned to fiction. He was the founding Books Editor of the arts & culture website, The Rumpus, a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford, and now directs the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University. He lives in San Francisco, which means he spends a lot of time commuting. Visit him at www.LadyLazarus.com.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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If you've ever been addicted to any reality-TV show, you need to read this book. The situations are just one step beyond current reality, the happenings are all surreal-but-believable, there are a couple of cameo appearances by recent newsmakers, the technology and feedback that helps people run the show depicted in the book is pretty fascinating -- Altschul might be shocked to discover he's written a science-fiction novel, but I think it's the best SF novel in years. The ending may be just a very slight letdown, but it's worth the trip.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Mohr on March 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
I really liked Altschul's first novel "Lady Lazarus" and was stoked to check out his follow-up. "Machina" is wild, acerbic, savage satire that hits right where it's aiming. In a time when so much fiction sounds the same (remixes of remixes), Altschul is out there doing his own thing.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Hughes on March 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Deus is a dark glimpse into and a satire of the workings of reality television. I found the novel to be both haunting and hilarious. I enjoyed how the ending was managed and how the book was structured to mirror the format of reality television. Everyone should check out this fast and fun read.

A shorter and perhaps easier read than Lady Lazarus (also a great book) Lady Lazarus
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bob the Builder on August 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very funny, very compelling book. Uneven in parts, but when this author is on, he's _really_ on. This is an author to watch, I think. I will be following his future work closely.
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