The President in Her Towers by Tom Whalen


ISBN 978-0-9637536-7-0 | Fiction | 175 pages | $14

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Through the corridors of the university’s Humanities and Sciences Towers, rumors are swirling about the President: her bizarre decrees, her midnight meetings, her strange projects (the Head-in-Progress, the Activated Eye, the Gestation Chamber). The President’s dedicated personal assistant, Thomas (a.k.a. Herr Abjectus), is charged with investigating and reporting on these and other matters, but it won’t be easy—especially since the President has disappeared. And now there is a new rumor: that she has been marked for assassination.

Praise for The President in Her Towers

“The stories that thrill us, if we will only admit to their pleasures, are the extravagant fantasies of an imagination at large in a universe whose dynamism is language and whose meaning lies as much in its own urge for creation as in ideas.  Thus, Gogol, Lewis Carroll, Kafka, Bruno Schulz, Roussel, Leonora Carrington, Bioy Casares, Ionesco, Mrożek, Lem, Harry Mathews, Calvino, Kenneth Koch, Donald Barthelme – and, most recently, Tom Whalen, whose comic invention, apparent lightness, and gleeful malice have combined in his new novel to increase the fabulous literature of his predecessors’.  The President in Her Towers is a deft, daft satire of bureaucracy, paranoia, professional envy, megalomania, the madness of specialization and the absence of transparency as they infect the university and, in general, our institutionalized existence.  But Tom Whalen’s exuberant, intelligent, and wryly allusive fiction is also an example – rare in our deadly serious literature – of the marvelous: a headlong adventure in storytelling, reminding us that writing needs no other justification than the esprit of a writer obedient to a high manic imagination.  To read Whalen’s book is a pleasure well beyond the ordinary; it is, in fact, to bear witness to a prodigious act of creation.  I am grateful to him for having written it and to Ellipsis Press for having published it.”
Norman Lock

“Whalen is an incredible stylist… Kafka fans will appreciate the attention Whalen pays to the pointless bureaucratic repetitions that make a University appear busy… The other Austrian writer to bring up is Thomas Bernhard, for this is a first-person obsessor’s tale to the last page…”
Gabe Durham in The Brooklyn Rail

“No writer I have come across explores metaphysical silence quite like Whalen. As readers we, like Thomas, like the gypsies, simply give in, cling to the wings of the author’s imagination, and enjoy, half-terrified, half-elated, the views over the snow-bound, fog-wreathed fictive landscape.”
David Rose in Necessary Fiction

Praise for Tom Whalen’s Previous Works

Tom Whalen’s book is malign and unsettling and darkly outré—he re-Wittgensteins the world that used to be the case through the impassive, but vigilant, eyes of his dolls, and returns it to us strikingly changed. Sven Birkets 

Tom Whalen’s study of Greenan is, like the novels it so lovingly details, masterful, uncommon, and intensely personal. —James Sallis

Whalen’s work is thickly lyrical and meditative, interrogating the relation of language to things, of books to life. Review of Contemporary Fiction

Pollinates post-cyber-punk with headier poetry than the genre has yet known. —Andrei Codrescu

Read an excerpt below (click on center to view in full screen) or download the excerpt as a PDF.

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About Tom Whalen

TOM WHALEN is a novelist, short story writer, poet, and critic who has written for Agni, Bookforum, Film Quarterly, The Iowa Review, The Quarterly, the Washington Post and other publications.  Co-editor of the Robert Walser Number of The Review of Contemporary Fiction, he has translated and written extensively on Walser’s work.  He teaches film at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany, and American Studies at the universities of Freiburg and Bamberg.