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The Laughter of Strangers Paperback – October 20, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michael J. Seidlinger has given us the boxing novel of the year. The Laughter of Strangers is a tough and gritty book that will challenge you page after page, but it is oh so worth it."
-Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

"The bare-bones prose within The Laughter of Strangers is heartbreaking, bleak, and stays with you long after finishing the book. This one should not be ignored."
-Frank Bill, author of Donnybrook

"Seidlinger does odd and marvelous things in making abstract aspects of identity concrete at the same time that he makes concrete aspects of identity abstract."
-David Atkinson, The Coffin Factory

"The Laughter of Strangers delivers a combination of psychological horror and strangeness that would not be out of place in a David Lynch film. Seidlinger's weird new fight fiction suggests that perhaps the best place for boxing contests isn't in the ring but between the pages of a book."
-Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times


"Seidlinger's stripped down prose resembles a boxer that possesses both graceful footwork and devastating power: it's rough and fast, but given to bursts of eloquence, humor, and philosophy."
-Gabino Iglesias, Bookslut

From the Author

"Like a ghost fretting over its lost body (or is it bodies? - in this book whatever you think of as 'you' might simply float like a butterfly right into someone else's body) a boxer attests to his presence, damaged and shimmery though it may be. That this fractured first person narrator feels the need to put the word 'me' in quotes speaks volumes. Terrifying volumes. This elastic, hurtling narrative pivots (and pivots again) on a recurring image of almost unimaginable dread - that of being laughed at in your hour of need by an audience of strangers."
-Grace Krilanovich, author of The Orange Eats Creeps
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Lazy Fascist Press (October 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621050971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621050971
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MICHAEL J SEIDLINGER has been in the ring long enough to experience the sting of a perfectly timed power punch. He'd like to think that every novel represents a fight its author has both fought and won. Some of his fights include The Laughter of Strangers, My Pet Serial Killer and The Sky Conducting. He serves as the Reviews Editor for Electric Literature as well as Publisher-in-Chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, an indie press specializing in innovative fiction and poetry.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By luke goebel on November 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book. Hey, Hey, Listen to me. Listen up. I don't review many books and it's been, LISTEN, a long time since I bought one that KNOCKED ME OUT...I mean, this voice, this SUGAR, SUGAR WILEM FLOURES, SUGAR... of the "sweet science"... is one voice that stings, shakes rattle and rolls you, from the first utterance. The first blow. Perfect poetry. Perfect cadence. Words in sentences of brotherhood and familiarity, in genius power that could only come from a character such as SUGAR. This thing grabs you from one direction to the other, Southpaw, Jab, Punch, Counterpunch, this voice sings. The baby is a FIGHTER. Grabs you with pitch perfect sentences, authority hand over fist, and rockets you into the fourth dimension. Maybe not the fourth...no...that's not quite right...it's another dimension. It's the mouth. This is a weird charge of a book, a dynamite book, it's like Gordon Lish and Brian Evenson let SEIDLINGER in on their secret geniuses, and Seidlinger grabbed it all, said thanks, Champ and Evenson, but I'm going to do with these gifts something that's never been done before. The perfect fight. The weirdest boxing book of all times. We aren't talking about boxing--talking perfecting the new novel; though the BOXING in this book, TAKE IT FROM ME, ONE WHO HAS NEVER WATCHED A FULL FIGHT, but now will watch, is effectively gripping, makes you love the sport, gives you the access to the inner and outer, the dance an pyschology while dancing, the strategy, the "sweet science", the out of body sensations--but this book isn't anmymore about boxing than say D. Mr. Capote is about stabbing women.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a darkness in this tantalizing novel, a noir underworld, or underbelly quality that is infused in the prose. To be honest, I was put off by the idea of a novel about boxing, and then reading the first five or ten pages, I was drawn in, then immediately HOOKED. The protagonist, William Flores, possibly past his prime, was floundering in relatable, yet also uncharted waters. There is an inherent structure to the work that mimics boxing, or a ring, and Seidlinger brilliantly displays his knack for the echoes that drive the fractured narrative forth: am I being laughed at? Who is laughing at me? These ghosts, or demons, weave the novel among the physical, the metaphysical, and the philosophical worlds. This is not an easy topic to write about, a protagonist who is losing his perspective, and Seidlinger does so admirably. He is an author to not only take notice, but I eagerly await his next release.
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Format: Paperback
What is the purpose of identity? It is to dignify the existence of human separation. We are all equally varied in characteristics and personalities. Like two snowflakes, none of us are the same, and unlike Tyler Durden’s philosophy we are all special. In The Laughter of Strangers, Michael Seidlinger challenges the concept of self by giving several faces and facets to the boxer who is, was, and always will be Willem Floures.

While identity is a feature set aside for others to differentiate, ego and self-esteem are internal machines to determine identity; the protagonist’s main struggle in the book is discovering the “true” Willem Floures through rigorous tests of both. Is it Sugar, Black Mamba, or Executioner? Seidlinger takes readers on an existentially vagrant journey through the stages of Floures’s life, using boxing matches as vibrant reveries of combat against actions and behaviors of past and present.

His prose is clean and concise and he wastes no breath in getting the story across, in passages such as “Looking back all I hear is laughter. All I see is white. All I taste is the ache of my bleeding mouth, tongue numb, my eyes wanting so very much to roll back, have a look at the inside of my broken skull.”

There are no extraneous details or descriptions to bore you out of your mind—no—merely conflict in the mind of a character on the path towards self-discovery, categorization, and personal revelation. If you’re looking for a read with a broad degree of settings and action, you will miss out a bit, but Seidlinger makes up for it with honest characters, ones that blend together likes the rounds do for a fighter.
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There is a claustrophobic, Dexter-like urgency in which Seidlinger uncoils Floures's mind as though it's an old battered and patched-up garden hose. There are delusions. The house in which he lives becomes a separate, breathing entity: "The house looks a lot like me." There are bodies hanging in his gym, hungry and indignant. Voices in his head tell him he is no longer "sweet with the science." And are these, in fact, multiple voices, or are they just different aspects of a singular voice? Basically, Floures's mind is a spook house...

Read the rest of my review over at Sundog Lit (sundoglitblog.wordpress.com)!
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