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Michael J. Seidlinger

Michael J. Seidlinger is the author of The Day We Delay, In Great Company, and The Artist in Question. When he isn’t consumed with language, he’s transforming into a graphic artist, musician, and professional boxer.

Blurbs

"The Sky Conducting is elegant, disturbing, and important."

– Nick Antosca, author of Fires, Midnight Picnic, and The Obese

"This is the obscure voice-over for the back-alley director’s cut of our lives as American actors. And the cameras are still rolling."

– Stephen Graham Jones, author of Demon Theory, All the Beautiful Sinners, and Zombie Bake-off

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The Sky Conducting

The Empire That Once Was America

03/29/12

I’m a huge fan of dystopian/apocalyptic novels, mainly because — if crafted by good authors — they unravel an elegantly-weaved prescience into a gloomy and fast-approaching future we’ve recklessly created ourselves for ourselves. Think of Bradbury, Atwood, Gibson, Orwell, and of course Huxley’s Brave New World. In short, I am a fan of the Folly of Man, and all in favor of technology flipping the tables on us served in the form of a well-organized, worldwide revolution (helmed by the HAL 9000, naturally). I’m perfectly at peace knowing we’ll get what we deserve.

Michael Seidlinger’s new novel The Sky Conducting presents us with an America not too far destined; a country on the down slope of an empirical, majestic, and dirty decline, where all systems (political, social, familial, and otherwise) have failed. The America we find in The Sky Conducting has passed judgement on and eviscerated its own organic vital functions; the ultimate act of cutting the nose off to spite its face. All that remains is a whisper of an arrogant empire, which comforts itself with melancholia and the fossils of domestic symmetry.

People have fled the country in gargantuan migrations, having ruthlessly and obtusely consumed all the land’s resources, leaving behind a ravaged, nutrient-deficient land (figuratively, as well as literally). Those we once called our neighbors, our friends, our family have become precious commodities, scarcely found on the continent. But despite the vastness, the horrible depletion and deforestation of America, one family has stayed behind in their home, unable to move on. By rebelliously inhabiting this skeleton of a country, they must forge themselves a second chance. Ahh, America, where everyone gets to tap dance themselves to the top again in a second act. Maybe.

Seidlinger’s prose is an exercise in brevity, with sentences, phrases, and dialogue coming at you like short jabs to the ribs, to the kidneys, to the jaw . . . advancing the story seamlessly. I liked the construction of the language, as well; building blocks stacked upon building blocks in short passages, making up the chapters.

Given my pessimistic outlook on the empire that once was America, this novel resonated and almost served as a mirror to all of those still waving flags and proclaiming that we are living in the world’s greatest country. I see them as noisemakers rattling sabers, banging on drums, yelling indoctrinated slogans into megaphones, all trapped on a bus that has quickly begun to slip into a deep ravine.

I read this book concurrently with one of literature’s heavyweight dystopian allegories: Jose Saramago’s Seeing. It made a great one-two punch and set me in a beautiful, savage landscape not too far from where we are today.

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1 Comment

  1. Jordan Blum said on 04/01/12 at 9:27 pm Reply

    As you know, Alex, I just ordered this, and your words here make me want to read it even more. I’ll definitely have more to say on it once I do.

    Reply

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