Perverse, playful, and highly comic stories that take dead aim at fictional convention.
The Knack of Doing is the debut collection of short fiction by Jeremy M. Davies, author of the acclaimed indie novels Rose Alley (2009) and Fancy (2015). Playful, fantastical, gruesome, and tender by turns, these stories run the gamut from parody to tragedy and back. “Sad White People” follows a souring hipster love affair that finds itself brutally hijacked by a far more interesting story, while “The Terrible Riddles of Human Sexuality (Solved)” introduces us to a dominatrix whose life is splintered into a series of children’s brain-teasers. “The Excise-Man” pastiches Robert Burns and Flann O’Brien in a rowdy tale of moonshine and tax evasion, while “Forkhead Box” catalogs the profesional and personal embarrassments of a New York State executioner in the days of the Rosenbergs. Finally, the epic novella “Delete the Marquis” looks back to pulp fiction and the Victorian penny dreadful in chronicling the woes of a ghostwriter who may inadvertently be perverting the world with his lack of imagination. Overflowing with “wit, irresistible ingenuity, and a stupefying narrative abundance” (Harry Mathews), Davies’ fiction takes dead aim at literary convention while reimagining the art of storytelling for the twenty-first century.
Davies has written a challenging but exceptional aria of a novel. This weird portrait of an unreliable and eloquent narrator could become a cult classic.
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Jeremy Davies just might be reclaiming comedy’s place in the frequently dour, futile world of modernist literature . . . . Alternately slapstick and pokerfaced, and impeccably timed, Fancy is laugh-out-loud funny.
—Scott Esposito, Bomb Magazine
“Davies transitions from channeling Henry James to sending ultra-hip, postmodern dispatches from the present. . . . Throughout, Davies’s prose simply crackles. He is a craftsman’s craftsman and these stories explore the reaches of his seemingly limitless imagination.”—Publishers Weekly
Davies is a writer of great precision, intelligence, humor, and depth.—Martin Riker, The Paris Review
Whether it dissolves a genre or invents a new one, Fancy will be the most weirdly riveting and beautifully composed book you read this year. Jeremy M. Davies . . . has written an utterly original novel with the fever of a Bernhard monologue and the command of a Schoenberg score.
—Eric Lundgren, author of The Facades
Jeremy M. Davies is an incomparable stylist . . . Fancy is a true tour de force, a symphonic mise en abyme of such reticulate splendor that a reader can only be awed by its richness, precision, obsession, and gorgeous perversity.
—Mary Caponegro, author of All Fall Down