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“Donald Breckenridge has been the best novelist writing about and in New York City since the MTA used tokens and Giuliani was halfway sane.” —Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Netanyahus
Adopted at birth, author Donald Breckenridge re-imagines his biological parents' meeting in the spring of 1967, while weaving together a battered and wild New York City of 1981, a wild and battered New York City of 2020, Oedipus and Antigone of antiquity and modernity, and perfectly caught and rendered flashes of daily experience. This gritty and gorgeous tapestry miraculously resolves into a pair of familiar and tragic mirrored sunglasses, behind which sits a legendary emptiness.
“While reading As it Falls, this powerful new novel by Donald Breckenridge, I kept asking myself, how does he do it? How does he build so much everything into so few pages and with so little fuss? Art, love, death, desire, dailiness, awe…you name it: it’s here. I’ve read novels three times as long that don’t reveal a third as much about what it’s like to live a life on this weary old world.” —Laird Hunt, National Book Award finalist and author of Zorrie
“Refracting and crosscutting, DB’s alter-/autofiction permutates Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy into an acerbic yet tender meditation on writing, theater, youth and desire…role play, inheritance, knowledge and freedom…imperfection, intimacy, mortality and escape. This time-jumping, detail-amping New York novel vibrates with obsession’s interpretation of scenes, expansion’s observation of contexts. Noirish while sans criminal—its lead characters include a femme spectrale (ghost writer/iteratively imagined young woman/elusive biological mother/Antigone avatar) and an intense, yearning, AIDS-facing actor—As It Falls hints that the way in is the way out. Cynicism flips to compassion, aggression to reflection, cliché to deeper version. But the unsettled and unsettling mood remains suspenseful. A prismatic maze of haunted, formally inventive intrafiction.” —Moyna Pam Dick, author of I am writing you from afar
“According to the tenents of Greek Tragedy, mucking around with destiny is never a good idea, and there is no escaping your fate—unless you are Donald Breckenridge who seamlessly constructs a world that blurs the borders of that mythology and merges the elements of our everyday dystopia with the lives of modern-day actors in a production of Oedipus the King. Oedipus, as you may remember, gouges out his eyes after unwittingly impregnating his mother, Queen Jocasta, who in turn faces that incestuous truth by hanging herself with the bedsheets. And while the Queen had attempted to forestall this prophesy of shame by abandoning her infant son, Breckenridge turns the myth upside down, speculating that his biological mother had surrendered him soon after his birth as an act of courage and faith.
As It Falls sweeps us up in a whirlwind of existential possibilities and we are borne along by gritty and surreal images of city life. When a pair of pterodactyls bearing a cartload of beer-can recyclables board a stalled Z train, it seems perfectly plausible. When Oedipus appears in a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses that conceal his empty eye sockets, it’s just another leap into a world of existential perplexities anchored in the saga of what the author calls a ‘cracked moral compass.’ The Greek tragedies so well portrayed the absurdity of the human condition. But Breckenridge does it better.”
—Pamela Ryder, author of Paradise Field
Donald Breckenridge has written five novels including And Then (Black Sparrow Press), edited two fiction anthologies, and introduced the NYRB Classics edition of Henri Duchemin and His Shadows by Emmanuel Bove. He was the fiction editor of the Brooklyn Rail for nineteen years, and co-founded and co-edited InTranslation. He lives in Brooklyn with his spouse, Johannah Rodgers.