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Some Trick: Thirteen Stories
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For sheer unpredictable brilliance, Gogol may come to mind, but no author alive today takes a reader as far as Helen DeWitt into the funniest, most yonder dimensions of possibility. Her jumping-off points might be statistics, romance, the art world's piranha tank, games of chance and games of skill, the travails of publishing, or success. "Look," a character begins to explain, laying out some gambit reasonably enough, even if facing a world of boomeranging counterfactuals, situations spinning out to their utmost logical extremes, and Rube Goldberg-like moving parts, where things prove "more complicated than they had first appeared" and "at 3 a.m. the circumstances seem to attenuate." In various ways, each tale carries DeWitt's signature poker-face lament regarding the near-impossibility of the life of the mind when one is made to pay to have the time for it, in a world so sadly "taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination."
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Reviews

"Thirteen ornery but self-aware stories about the vultures who tear apart our culture. There's some bitterness here but no sanctimony, because the author is almost as funny and self-deflating as she is smart - which is saying a lot." -- Vulture "DeWitt's stories are comic and intricate, and cut against the grain of current American fiction in the best of ways" -- Vulture "A mind-bending collection of short stories that span such heady topics as statistical computing, religion, and the essence of capital-A Art-what DeWitt summits in substance she also mirrors in readability." -- Vanity Fair "These 13 tales, which push the boundaries of fiction, center on misunderstood geniuses and manage to combine complex mathematical theories with razor-sharp wit - no easy achievement." -- Times Magazine "The multilingual author, known for her novels The Last Samurai and Lightning Rods, demonstrates her intellectual prowess in this thought-provoking debut collection. These 13 tales, which push the boundaries of fiction, center on misunderstood geniuses and manage to combine complex mathematical theories with razor-sharp wit-no easy achievement." -- Time "Ruthlessly honesty about the sausage making of literary production ... DeWitt's stories are devastatingly specific, and yet they serve as broad parables about the inevitability of being misunderstood, both as an artist and as a person." -- The Paris Review Daily "DeWitt pushes against the limitations of the novel as a form; reading her, one wants to push against the limitations of one's own brain." -- Miranda Popkey - The Paris Review "DeWitt's style is brilliantly heartless, and cork-dry; original herself, she is a witty examiner of human and cultural eccentricity. She can take a recognizable social situation or fact and steadily twist it into a surrealist skein. In Some Trick there are passages and pages that had me laughing out loud-imagine a Bertie Wooster who is not a straightforward dimwit but an eccentrically clever and hermetically erudite dimwit." -- James Wood - The New Yorker (FEATURE REVIEW) "DeWitt's style is brilliantly heartless, and cork-dry; original herself, she is a witty examiner of human and cultural eccentricity. She can take a recognizable social situation or fact and steadily twist it into a surrealist skein. In Some Trick there are passages and pages that had me laughing out loud-imagine a Bertie Wooster who is not a straightforward dimwit but an eccentrically clever and hermetically erudite dimwit." -- James Wood - The New Yorker ""A brilliant, manic new collection. There is much madness in DeWitt's method, a madness of pure logic. Hilarious."" -- Hermione Hoby - The New York Times "For sheer brilliance and humor, Some Trick delivers like nothing else, simply because DeWitt writes like no one else.DeWitt's great subject is genius, an ambitious undertaking made less so by the fact that she may just be one herself" -- The Millions "DeWitt applies her mordant virtuosity to territory ranging from statistics to publishing." -- The Millions "DeWitt applies her mordant virtuosity to territory ranging from statistics to publishing." -- The Millions "An intellectual powerhouse, laugh-out-loud funny in unexpected ways." -- Ilana Teitelbaum - The Huffington Post "A few stories in Some Trick do feature DeWitt's version of a happy ending: someone figures out a loophole, a way to maneuver a set of senseless best practices to work for him, and experiences the watered-down relief of solving a problem that shouldn't exist." -- Lauren Oyler - The Baffler "A fascinating, expansively erudite thrill." -- Southern Living "The artist-characters in Some Trick, Helen DeWitt's new collection of bitingly hilarious stories, discover that integrity and commercial success are incompatible, or at most a fluke that can't be replicated without sacrificing one's sanity and/or soul." -- San Francisco Chronicle "Helen DeWitt combines literary theory, math, and satire in Some Trick, a cerebral collection of 13 stories that digs into the publishing industry, among other topics." -- Angela Carone - San Diego Magazine "DeWitt reasserts herself as one of contemporary fiction's greatest minds in this dazzling collection of stories about misunderstood genius. DeWitt's disdain for those who seek to profit off of genius is sharp and refreshing, and her ability to deliver such astounding prose and thought-provoking stories constitutes a minor miracle. This is a gem of a collection." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Filled with visual artists, writers, and agents, DeWitt's layered, sneakily funny collection reads like it came together over years of tinkering. The stories precisely capture (and often skewer) a certain type of cultural elite. With references to Borges, Kafka, Adorno, and Benjamin, among others, stories feature artists who must navigate the "go-getters" necessary for promoting their work. Funny and packed with knowledge, DeWitt's book masterfully juxtaposes lofty ideals with the banality of everyday realities." -- Seth Satterlee - Publisher's Weekly "The most radical, off-the-wall, completely astonishing pages you'll read in your lifetime.... A small-but-mighty tome." -- POPSUGAR "Some Trick seems less like a story collection and more like a series of notes from some vast, alien intelligence. DeWitt's characters are savants, weirdos, and artists, often trying to achieve their ends against the best efforts of the well-meaning and conventional people around them." -- Annalisa Quinn - NPR "There is much madness in DeWitt's method, a madness of pure logic. Hilarious." -- Hermione Hoby - New York Times Book Review "DeWitt's manic, brilliant new collection...populated by geniuses and virtuosos, the stories are zanily cerebral and proceed with fractal precision." -- New York Times Book Review "I like dry humor with a stick of dynamite strapped to it. The forthcoming collection Some Trick by Helen DeWitt, is probably the most recent example." -- New York Times Book Review "Her books assert (and often attest) that a work of fiction can encompass many kinds of knowledge-probability theory, scatterplots of data, tables of non-Roman alphabets-without compromising its form." -- Lindsay Gail - Los Angeles Review of Books "DeWitt is the sort of artist that doesn't back away from her vision, and she takes the reader with her. A polyglot with a PhD in Classics from Oxford, DeWitt wields an immense intellect that, in each of her books, she uses to cynically delight her readers." -- LA Review of Books "DeWitt's wide-ranging intellect makes these stories, but it's her sense of humor and profound humanity that make them work. She approaches her weirdos and screw-ups with keen-eyed honesty but also with sincere affection. And the first story, "Brutto," has one of the most satisfying closing lines ever. This collection has many delights, but it's worth picking up just for that." -- Kirkus (starred review) "DeWitt knows fourteen languages and is conversant in advanced math and computer code... she has harnessed her coder's brain to negative capability. Compulsive and very funny." -- Harper's "In this new collection, DeWitt maps a rangy and verbose urban landscape populated by couch surfers, VC bros, underpaid artists, a guitarist on a walkabout, mathematicians, two seemingly different guys named Gil, obscure European novelists and an itinerant heiress fluent in the tinkering grammars of probability, risk and global finance." -- Andrew Durbin - Frieze "If there's any author bookish types trust to take them down the twistiest of rabbit holes with humor and winking unpredictability, Helen DeWitt is it. Take the plunge with these 13 short stories." -- Elle Magazine "Brilliant and inimitable Helen DeWitt: patron saint of anyone in the world who has to deal with the crap of those in power who do a terrible job with their power, and who make those who are under their power utterly miserable. Certain stories have something in common with dreams: they're expressions of the creator's wish-fulfillment. Helen DeWitt's wishes are distinct in American literature?-?in world literature, as far as I know." -- Sheila Heti - Electric Literature

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