Short stories by Gabriel Blackwell
A man becomes obsessed with expanding his body, putting on weight and enlarging himself until he swallows his surroundings. Another man is imprisoned by his own reflection, a reflection that spawns countless new reflections without end. And while one man consumes the disembodied essence of his siblings, experiencing memories that aren’t actually his, others lose their wives to imaginary gods or grieve the collapse of families that don’t even exist.
Part Borges, part Calvino, part Hieronymous Bosch, the eerie fictions of Gabriel Blackwell offer warped reflections of domestic lives in turmoil, relationships on the brink. In these funhouse mirror distortions of identity crises and lovers’ disputes, entropy deforms reality and destroys the fragile bonds between people. As would-be parents struggle with the difficulties of conception, stories half-told gestate new stories within a miasma of yet more stories. As children survey the lives of their elders, dwelling on the paths not taken, they find their own identities fracturing into kaleidoscopes of unrealised possibilities. Reader, be warned: Babel does not stand on solid ground. The abyss will open beneath you and devour your world. Enter at the risk of plunging in, with nothing in the depths to break your fall.
Gabriel Blackwell is the author of Madeleine E. (Outpost19, 2016), The Natural Dissolution of Fleeting-Improvised-Men: The Last Letter of H. P. Lovecraft (CCM, 2013), Critique of Pure Reason (Noemi, 2013), and Shadow Man: A Biography of Lewis Miles Archer (CCM, 2012).
Read stories from Babel:
Read Gabriel Blackwell’s playlist for Babel at Largehearted Boy.
Read Gabriel Blackwell’s research notes for Babel at Necessary Fiction.
Read Tobias Carroll’s Q&A with Gabriel Blackwell at Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
Listen to Gabriel Blackwell interviewed on the Beyond the Zero podcast.
Praise for Babel
Imagine Thomas Bernhard and Roberto Bolaño riding the Coney Island Cyclone, and you have a hint of the pleasures that await in Babel. Gabriel Blackwell’s narrators face disappearing family members, vanishing book pages, all in all, the instability of life as they knew it, but in the face of these often comic calamities, the stories resist and subvert neat categories or solutions. Babel is a collection of masterful parables, invented confessions, essays, and convergences for the current moment. Whether a moral about Moreau (as in the island of) and Morel (as in the invention of) or the evaporation of language itself, these stories both critique and illuminate.Susan Daitch
author of Storytown and L.C.
Babel is a collection of stories full of characters who are both comic and tragic. Blackwell’s syntax is precise and astounding in the way it builds and unfolds sentence by sentence with a sort of magic one sees in Borges or Nabokov. I think he is a startlingly original writer and deserves ranking among the great stylists.Brandon Hobson
National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed
Weird stories in the high literary tradition, reborn into the families and relationships of modern America, and shocked to life with humor and real feeling.Ben Loory
author of Tales of Falling and Flying
[Blackwell’s] is a surreal sort of symbolism that subverts its own figuration, implying meaning that remains just beyond our grasp. … It is as if the stories as a whole have exited, if not language itself, then through a hole in the conventional representation of “reality” in literary language, emerging into “undreamt daydreams” (or nightmares) that Blackwell has obligingly gone ahead and dreamt for us.Daniel Green
Long Story Short
Babel showcases Blackwell’s writing at its most nimble and structurally innovative.Tobias Carroll
Vol. 1 Brooklyn