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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.

rEprint Series Ebooks

Interior Design, by Philip Graham

Graham-Interior Design.jpg
Graham-Interior Design.jpg

Interior Design, by Philip Graham

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Interior Design presents a gallery of people who, for all their strangeness, seem deeply, touchingly familiar as they explore the designs of their private inner thoughts.  Huddled under his covers with a flashlight, a young boy lies awake listening to his parents’ bitter arguments, and he draws maps of imaginary planets on tennis balls, creating little worlds where his troubled family is somehow happy.  A young man becomes obsessed with the idea of his guardian angel, and lives each day believing that it jealously hovers at his side, hungry for his every thought.

Mysterious, tender and sometimes frightening, these stories are fueled by the conviction that what moves us most in our lives are our deepest secrets, and that our most intense adventures in life are the ones we create within ourselves. 

From the new introduction by Roy Kesey

“In each of the stories in this collection, ritual is invoked: to bring sense to the past, or meaning to the present, or some sense of control for the future. Workaday objects and processes are recast in powerful talismanic light. The defamiliarized gaze of the foreigner and the power of the creative mind are brought to bear, and experience is reformed, reshaped, understood newly. The line between what is real and what is imagined is blurred intentionally with the goal of letting events slide from one side of the line to the other according to the needs of a given psyche. These are the services Philip Graham has rendered us over the past several decades, services of which we are ever more in need. How good it is at last to have this new edition of Interior Design in hand.”

Praise for Interior Design

“Novelist and short story writer Graham fills his newest story collection with a sense of the power of imagination. One by one, his characters tap their own inventive powers to alter the troubling world around them . . . Quietly engrossing, Graham’s stories illustrate the ways our souls, craving meaning, instinctively make patterns out of experience–and that this process, whether heroic or neurotic, is not all that different from the work of an artist.”

Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

 “‘We actually turn ourselves inside out and find comfort in what we’ve imagined,’ one of the characters in the book’s title story says, and it’s that odd mixture of illusion and disillusion that makes Graham’s stories so compelling, that makes reading this collection a sad and utterly convincing encounter with one who can, like the magician pulling an endless string of knotted scarves from beneath his cuff, perform the fiction writer’s greatest feat–making us see through his eyes, compelling us to believe, without a doubt, in the world he has created.”   

–John Gregory Brown, Chicago Tribune

“Philip Graham’s characters exist in worlds parallel to our own. It is as if the most ordinary and intensely familiar objects, actions and relationships are evoked, but with their meanings and significance rearranged. These stories represent a tour de force of imagination.”

–Janet Burroway

Author Bio

 Philip Graham is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including the story collections The Art of the Knock and Interior Design; a novel, How to Read an Unwritten Language; and The Moon, Come to Earth, an expanded version of his series of McSweeney's dispatches from Lisbon.  He is the co-author (with his wife, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb) of two memoirs of Africa, Parallel Worlds (winner of the Victor Turner Prize), and Braided Worlds.  His work has been reprinted in Germany, Great Britain, India, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

Graham’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, North American Review, Fiction, Los Angeles Review and elsewhere, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers Magazine, and the Washington Post.  The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, two Illinois Arts Council awards, and the William Peden Prize in Fiction, Graham teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  A founding editor of the literary/arts journal Ninth Letter, he has served as the fiction and nonfiction editor, and as an editor-at-large for the journal’s website. His posts on the craft of writing can be found at