2014: Year of tumult. The planet continues to warm, pro-Russian militants seize large swaths of Eastern Ukraine, the Islamic State rises to terror in the Middle East, Syria splinters further toward collapse, Ebola breaks out in West Africa, unbridled white cops cut down unarmed blacks in U.S. cities, heroin kills indiscriminately throughout the Midwest (and beyond), a floundering man meets a desperate woman wheeling her bike off the velodrome in Cleveland.
Written in a free-flowing style punctuated by shifts in font size, Friction follows the relationship between these two Clevelanders—the woman, a recovering heroin addict increasingly drawn into the conflict in her ancestral Ukraine; the man, an “astronomical folklorist” with a penchant for Sun Ra recordings, trying, perhaps, just to stay tethered to Earth. Identities flitter and morph as 2014 rumbles on and the two struggle to find meaningful roles amidst the upheaval.
An unstable novel for unstable times.
“A deftly crafted, erudite, and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, ‘Friction’ showcases the impressive literary talents of author Matt Marshall as a consummate and original novelist.” —Midwest Book Review
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The Starlight Line
—Larry Kirwan, author of A History of Irish Music, Rockin’ the Bronx and Liverpool Fantasy, and former leader of Irish-American rock band Black 47
Matt Marshall’s novel, The Starlight Line, is a fascinating, complex, layer-cake of a book. The frame narration is semi-autobiographical; the narrator is a frustrated writer from Cleveland, searching for inspiration. The other layers interpenetrate and enrich the frame story: Jack London’s drug-addled wanderings; Trotsky’s assassination in Mexico; a writer’s search for Jack Kerouac’s mysterious muse, Esperanza Villanueva. Marshall’s skillful technique allows him to experiment with a variety of narrative voices that work like various instruments in a symphony. The voices add texture and depth to the story. In effect, Marshall produces a novel that is about the process of fiction writing itself.
—Philip J. Skerry, author of Dark Energy: Hitchcock’s Absolute Camera and the Physics of Cinematic Spacetime and Psycho in the Shower: The History of Cinema’s Most Famous Scene