Dreamlives of Debris by Lance Olsen
Dreamlives of Debris by Lance Olsen
Publication Date: April 4 2017
Paperback: 296 pages
A twisted reimagining of Theseus and the Minotaur from veteran author Lance Olsen
Dreamlives of Debris is a hybrid retelling of the Theseus and Minotaur myth. Here the Minotaur is a little deformed girl—she calls herself Debris—hidden away from public view in the labyrinth beneath Knossos. She possesses the ability to hear the flood of thoughts and see the flood of memories, desires, and futures of others throughout history from Herodotus and Pliny to Borges and Edward Snowden.
Her labyrinth takes the form of an impossible liquid architecture bearing no center and hence no discernible perimeter. Dreamlives of Debris explores such impossible architecture as a way of knowing — an extended metaphor for our current sense of lived experience: the feeling, for instance, of being awash in massive, networked data fields that may lead everywhere and nowhere at once. The lyrical narrative takes the form of a collage composed of multiple voices and genres from multiple time periods.
Praise for Dreamlives of Debris
“Olsen finds a new spin on one of the oldest stories out there, illuminating some of the more horrific aspects and pressing questions of the modern world.”
" Lance Olsen’s Dreamlives of Debris is a machine to think with, one that transports the reader by extraordinary means, a book that challenges received notions about what constitutes story and storytelling, a book that takes readers into and out of its labyrinth."
“Dreamlives whirls dreamlike, its settings unsettled even during the early chapters. The language isn’t just poetic, it’s telegraphic, and scenes take place at warp speed.”
—The Brooklyn Rail
“Dreamlives isn’t a singular dream but a collection of a castaway’s inner thoughts. Shunning the momentum that comes from traditional plot and character development, Lance Olsen—an author known for innovative, genre-trespassing narratives—challenges the reader to make sense of the book’s internal reality.”
“Lance Olsen’s new novel Dreamlives of Debris explores the Thesesus and Minotaur myth through Debris, a deformed girl/monster hidden in a labyrinth—or what Olsen calls a ‘liquid architecture.’ Each page, devoid of a page number, is a turn or fall in the labyrinth in which Debris accesses shimmers—voices—through history while navigating her desires.”
"Dreamlives of Debris is a stunning song cycle on the pixelation of memory in a hyperdigitalized universe, opening out into an extraordinarily beautiful and powerful meditation on nothing less than the erasure of time itself."
—David Shields, author of Reality Hunger
"Like the minotaur it invokes, Lance Olsen's Dreamlives of Debris is a great hybrid creature, surprising and mysterious and imbued with new power. Perhaps born of such parents as Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red and Ben Marcus' Age of Wire and String, Olsen's novel is finally entirely its own brilliant monster: courageous with the inexhaustibility of its myth, unfettered by the usual conventions of linear storytelling, destined to challenge and change any reader brave enough to delve its fantastic labyrinth of language."
—Matt Bell, author of Scrapper
"Lance Olsen opens up an astonishing world of thought and emotion—a place distant but familiar that hangs almost out of the reach of our daily perception. A place we have only glimpsed at moments. A world that we have longed for all along, and have nearly forgotten. Through Olsen's magic and fragments and echoes this world comes back in uncanny and haunting ways. A beautiful and moving reading experience, Dreamlives of Debris is a unique and impressive achievement."
—Carole Maso, author of Mother & Child
"In a rapturous fusion of myth, premonition, philosophy, and human history, Dreamlives of Debris delivers us to the pure poetry of perception. I fell in love with Debris. Monstrous in form, radiant in spirit, she hears everyone: Sappho, Sophocles, Borges, Plato, a traveler on the Silk Road, Danielle Steele, Justin Bieber. Brigitte Reimann grieves her own diminishment as Bradley Manning explains his transition to Chelsea. No words seem more profound or true than any other. Those who dare to listen this way will be transfigured, scattered through time and space, bewildered, ecstatically alive, forever lost in a vast labyrinth of infinite possibilities.”
—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Voice of the River, Silence & Song, and The 7th Man
"Breaking boundaries of horror, science fiction, nonfiction, love story, and myth, this rare and brilliant novel reinvents the female ‘monster’ in the form of a disfigured girl. Subverting the hero’s journey, Debris goes on a quest to find her self within an impossible labyrinth where architecture mirrors the disfigured female body, imprisoning and revealing a girl monster who stands between humanity and the darkness. In this world where what seems to be monstrous is more human than human, the stories most difficult to tell are the ones we most need to be told."
—Aimee Parkison, author of Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman
About Lance Olsen
Lance Olsen is author of more than 20 books. His short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, such as Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Fiction International, Village Voice, BOMB, McSweeney’s and Best American Non-Required Reading. A Guggenheim, Berlin Prize, D.A.A.D. Artist-in-Berlin Residency, N.E.A. Fellowship, and Pushcart Prize recipient, as well as a Fulbright Scholar, he teaches at the University of Utah and serves as chair of the Board of Directors at the independent press Fiction Collective Two.