Archive / Novels /Transmission

Gnostic Brooklyn (2015)

Van Ness Parsons pyramid

I was walking home through Clinton Hill when I met a wizard. He wore a conical straw hat and a cloak of many colors and was in the process of casting a spell, squatting down by the foundation stone of the Orient Temple, speaking an incantation and waving a burning twist of sage. He looked as if he’d stepped off the cover of a free jazz record from the early 1970s. As I stopped in front of him, he nodded to me, then carried on with his incantation. It seemed he did not want to be disturbed...

An essay for Catapult on occult undercurrents in Brooklyn

The Wake (2015)

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What happens after the end? Since the portrayals of world-destroying deluges in early writings (“Gilgamesh,” the Matsya Purana, Genesis, the “Timaeus”), narratives of apocalypse have structured our understanding of time and history. Religious eschatology looks to the end of days as a prelude to the absolute finality of the kingdom of God. Secularized as “the Singularity,” a similar idea drives the imagination of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and cybernetic doomsayers...

I reviewed Paul Kingsnorth's excellent Anglo Saxon novel The Wake for the New York Times

Dune 50 Years on (2015)

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Dune cover

It’s 50 years since the publication of Frank Herbert’s Dune. To celebrate the anniversary of one of the great SF novels, I wrote an essay for The Guardian about beach grass, Bedouin, Orientalism and why the spice must flow.

Book Club: WG Sebald's The Rings of Saturn

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On Wednesday 11th February, 7.30pm I'll be talking about WG Sebald's ruminative account of a walk along the Suffolk Coast, with Rick Moody, Dinaw Mengestu, and Denis O'Hare (not dressed as a vampire, presumably) reading an extract.  Details and tickets here

Understanding is the least we owe the dead (2015)

After the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, I wrote about my reaction for The Guardian.  

The Beautiful Reward is Freedom: Ursula Le Guin (2014)

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Ursula Le Guin


Last night (November 19th) Ursula Le Guin accepted the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. 'I think hard times are coming', she said in her acceptance speech, ' when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.' She is such a writer, and earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit her at her Portland home. The profile I wrote for the Guardian is here. A full transcript of her speech is here and video is here.  'We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds,' she said last night. 'But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.'