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Nick Antosca

Nick Antosca is the author of the novels Midnight Picnic and Fires. He was born in New Orleans and currently lives in Los Angeles. His blog is Brothercyst.


"Fires is a striking work reminiscent of James Salter (A Sport and a Pastime) in its combination of a cool unforgiving eye and a hot intensity of feeling and sensual immediacy."

– John Crowley, author of Little, Big

Fires is fantastic. It’s often dark, often startlingly beautiful, and it’s crammed with a smoky, foreboding atmosphere that kept pulling me along, thrilled and a little scared, toward the end.

– Scott Heim, author of Mysterious Skin

Fires is a novel full of creeping menace and near-apocalyptic lunacy . . . the book is a blast to read.

– Victor LaValle, author of The Ecstatic

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I’d love a tour inside Nick Antosca’s head, but I’d hate to spend the night.


That was my first thought after reading Fires, Antosca’s debut novel -- an impression very much reinforced by his second book, Midnight Picnic. But then again, if you’ve read one book by an author let alone two, you’ve pretty much camped out in his head. And this is especially true of Antosca, whose writing feels incredibly personal. It’s this intimacy -- more than the darkness of the subject matter -- that makes the dread permeating his books so immediate and palpable.

Fires was originally published by Impetus Press which, like the rest of the publishing industry, pretty much imploded. It has since been re-released by Civil Coping Mechanisms. This new package includes a snazzy new cover (NOW IN COLOR!) and three bonus stories: "Rat Beast" is hilarious; "Winter was Hard" and "The Girlfriend Game" really are not.

I love the trajectory of Fires. It opens depicting the relationship between two college students, setting up the framework for a coming-of-age narrative, and then it takes a surprising and very dark detour through a concealed room and ends with a solitary figure reclining on a bed in a burning neighborhood. Whenever I read a novel and I think I know where it’s going, I imagine an ending where the main characters kiss against a backdrop of fire. Antosca . . . actually goes there. But he establishes such a solid foundation that the ending -- which could easily devolve into pure vaudeville -- is both tragic and inevitable.

Regarding that foundation, look at the way Antosca, in the first few pages, takes us through the romance between two undergraduates. To be reductive: boy meets girl, girl has a cold, and during a romantic but ultimately chaste tryst, girl gives the cold to boy. I’ve never encountered a fictional romance where the couple literally infects each other during their meet cute. And it’s a moment that both captures the idealism of young romance -- the boy is so enamored with the girl he’ll cuddle with her despite her flaming disease -- and is also utterly disgusting.

Antosca’s characters might be unhinged, but they’re all so engaging that when they get involved with each other, we want to be involved with them as well. And when their relationships take them to some very dark places, well, they lure us down with them.

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1 Comment

  1. Jordan Blum said on 02/19/12 at 12:29 pm Reply

    Great recommendation. It is funny how love is such a strong reason to be close to someone that it blinds us to the reasons why we shouldn’t (such as a common cold). I used to feel that way, too, as if to say, “I don’t care what happens afterward as long as I can share it with you.” The ending of this book sounds incredible, too.


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