||Comic satirist Chris Bachelder to visit Centre
RELEASED: October 23, 2008
“Aren’t satirists just sentimental and oversensitive cranks who just wish the world were a kinder place and furthermore sort of believe that it could be a kinder place and it is therefore tragic that it’s such a cruel and stupid place?” writes Chris Bachelder in his novel Bear v. Shark.
Bachelder, a professor of English at the University of Massachussetts Amherst, investigates American popular culture, domestic life, and revered literary forbears with equal amounts of mocking disbelief and admiration.
Bachelder is the author of two “conventional” novels and numerous essays that have appeared in such publications as Harper’s, The Oxford American, and New Stories from the South. His wacky e-book, Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography is available online at http://www.mcsweeneys.net/bachelder/. Chapter 3 is titled “How to arrive at the estranged girlfriend’s apartment.”
Centre's Daniel Smith, visiting assistant professor of English, is using Bachelder’s latest novel, U.S.! in his creative writing class at Centre. “I find Chris Bachelder to be a writer who manages to use the playful and the punning to reach the profound. That is, he’s a satirist, and his novels have caused me to laugh out loud, but at their center, they move well beyond the level of joke and into the poignant and insightful.”
In U.S!, Bachelder uses the unlikely (and undead) literary figure of Upton Sinclair, who is repeatedly resurrected by optimistic leftists, only to be gunned down by the right, as he risks his life for the ever elusive Socialist revolution. His novel documents “the demise (but dogged faith) of the American left, as well as the violence and hysteria of the right” says one reviewer, in “a dazzling mix of laughter and revelations.”
Smith continues, “The reason I chose to have my students read this book is that it shows off Bachelder’s dexterity. He knows his literary history cold, and he also knows his contemporary culture. He manages to weave these things together to create a seamless and compelling narrative where one has no business existing.”
Says one reviewer, “We need novelists like Chris Bachelder who can, with a microfine sense of humor and a tragic sense of history, almost make it all make sense. We’re lucky to have him.”
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