Wednesday, October 30, 7:30pm
Pegasus Books Downtown
Susan Steinberg discusses Machine: a haunting story of guilt and blame in the wake of a drowning, the first novel by the author of Spectacle.
In conversation with Lucy Corin, author of One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses.
Susan Steinberg’s first novel, Machine, is a dazzling and innovative leap forward for a writer whose most recent book, Spectacle, gained her a rapturous following. Machine revolves around a group of teenagers—both locals and wealthy out-of-towners—during a single summer at the shore. Steinberg captures the pressures and demands of this world in a voice that effortlessly slides from collective to singular, as one girl recounts a night on which another girl drowned. Hoping to assuage her guilt and evade a similar fate, she pieces together the details of this tragedy, as well as the breakdown of her own family, and learns that no one, not even she, is blameless.
A daring stylist, Steinberg contrasts semicolon-studded sentences with short lines that race down the page. This restless approach gains focus and power through a sharply drawn narrative that ferociously interrogates gender, class, privilege, and the disintegration of identity in the shadow of trauma. Machine is the kind of novel—relentless and bold—that only Susan Steinberg could have written.
- “The narrative shifts, experimental structure and poetic language in Steinberg’s hypnotic first novel capture the teen years with their shifting emotional tides and heightened awareness of class, gender, self and others.”—BBC Culture
- After making waves with her book ‘Spectacle,’ bold stylist Susan Steinberg resurfaces with her first novel, a tale of gender, class, privilege and trauma set during a summer at the shore. . . . The narrative grapples with guilt and blame while eschewing formal conventions.”—Chicago Tribune
- “With simple, lyrical language, Steinberg presents a mystery of privilege and youth that deftly captures the unadulterated gear quaking deep behind a teenagers invincible front.”—Booklist
- “What makes [Machine] so thrilling is Steinberg’s artistry with form; she fractures narrative into its fundamental parts. Steinberg writes prose with a poet’s sense of meter and line, and a velocity recalling the novels of Joan Didion. The result is a dizzying work that perfectly evokes the feeling of spinning out of control.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
- “Steinberg writes in small, interconnected, and poetic fragments. . . . Heartbreaking, eerie, and acutely observant.”—Kirkus, starred review
Susan Steinberg is the author of Machine, Spectacle, Hydroplane, and The End of Free Love. She is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and a Pushcart Prize. She teaches at the University of San Francisco.
Lucy Corin is the author of two short story collections, One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses (McSweeney’s Books) and The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) as well as a novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). She won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at the University of California at Davis, and is at work on a novel, The Swank Hotel.