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The man Paul Auster called “a master of bewitchments” and a founder of the Fiction Collective returns to the novel after twenty years

In the spirit of “transcendental buffoonery,” Curtis White’s return to fiction is fun in the extreme. The story begins when a masked man with “a message both obscure and appalling” appears at the door of the Marquis claiming a matter of life and death, declaring, “I stand falsely accused of an atrocity!”

Dispatched by the Queen of Spells from the Outer Hebrides, the Masked Man’s message was really just a polite request for the Marquis (a video game-playing burnout) to help him enroll in some community college vocational classes. But the exchange gets botched… badly. And our masked man is now lost in America, encountering its absurdities at every turn, and cursing those responsible for this cruel fate — including the author that created him.

In a time obsessed with the crisis du jour, White asks us to remember what it’s like to laugh, to be a little silly even, in order to reclaim what used to be fundamental to us — the strength to create our own worlds.

Curtis White is the author of many books, including the acclaimed The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers and We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data, both from Melville House. His newest novel, Lacking Character, is on sale now.

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Selected Press

“Curtis White was never Lacking Character.”
Vanity Fair
“A comic, absurd delight… White is a postmodern master, and in this wild satire he transforms the banal into magic.”
Publishers Weekly

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