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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Life Goes to the Movies, by Peter Selgin

Dzanc Ebooks

Life Goes to the Movies, by Peter Selgin


Life Goes to the Movies, by Peter Selgin

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When Vietnam-veteran-turned-filmmaker Dwaine Fitzgibbon (“D for Death, W for War, A for Anarchy, I for Insane, N for Nightmare, and E for the End of the World”) takes Nigel DePoli under his wing to teach him about movies and life, Nigel thinks he’s found the perfect antidote to his small-town, immigrant child’s upbringing. But Dwaine is arguably insane, and the greatest movie they’ll ever collaborate on is the one he produces in Nigel’s gullible, hero-addled mind.

Their erotically tinged friendship is the subject of what one sly reader has called an “anti-homophobic” novel, a bond strengthened but also tested by their mutual love for Veronica “Venus” Dwiggins, a beautiful albino costume designer. With Dwaine less and less able or willing to distinguish between reality and cinema, Nigel must choose between sanity and loyalty. The story climaxes with Nigel’s gambit to rescue Dwaine from the psychiatric ward where he has taken flight, a scheme involving a considerable budget, a cast and crew of hospitalized V-vets, and the world’s most famous soft drink.


“Selgin excels at blending cinematic imagery into a literary narrative. Each chapter paints a vivid picture of setting, character, and action, setting the scenes with beautifully written establishing shots and smooth transitions that resemble fade-ins or slow dissolves. It’s like watching a movie unfold on the page.”  —Live Nude Books

“Peter Selgin’s debut novel Life Goes to the Movies may be read in several ways: first, as a comic romp, with nods to On the Road and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas along the way. And like the colorful cast in Kerouac’s novel—Dwaine Fitzgibbon the stand-in for Dean Moriarty, that famed ‘holy con-man with the shining mind’—the main characters in Life Goes to the Movies take drop-everything-now cross-country trips, ‘doing something so frantic and rushing about.’ Like Kerouac’s Sal, Nigel is a tabula rasa waiting to be inscribed.”  —Diagram


Peter Selgin’s first book of short stories, Drowning Lessons (University of Georgia Press, 2008) won the Flannery O’Connor Award. He edits the journal Alimentum: The Literature of Food, and leads an annual writing workshop in Vitorchiano, Italy. He lives in Spuyten Duyvil, New York.