FANCY by Jeremy M. Davies

 

FANCY cover FINAL 20140905

ISBN 978-1-940400-07-5 | Fiction | 248 pages | $14 | pub date: 2/24/2015

Review on Goodreads.

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An elderly shut-in delivers a series of pet-sitting instructions to a young couple who’ve come to watch over his many, many cats. A story (or series of stories) about the ways that methodical, abstract systems interface with messy, personal obsessions, Fancy is a kissing cousin to the work of both the late Henry James and the early Thomas Bernhard: an object lesson in how our need to make sense of the world winds up devouring it whole.

Praise for Fancy

Each paragraph of the novel begins with “Rumrill said” or “he added,” and this repetition has a hypnotic effect, nudging the reader deeper into the underground caverns of the story … Davies slowly peels away layers of contradiction to reveal the abstract mental gymnastics Rumrill uses to function in the world… Davies has written a challenging but exceptional aria of a novel. This weird portrait of an unreliable and eloquent narrator could become a cult classic.
—Starred review, Publishers Weekly

Whether it dissolves a genre or invents a new one, Fancy will be the most weirdly riveting and beautifully composed book you read this year. In an unlikely literary sleight-of-hand, Jeremy M. Davies transforms an agoraphobe’s catsitting instructions into a virtuoso meditation on being, perception, and solitude. He has written an utterly original novel with the fever of a Bernhard monologue and the command of a Schoenberg score.
Eric Lundgren, author of The Facades

Jeremy M. Davies’s protagonist, Rumrill, takes his garrulous place among fiction’s grandest denizens of the interior: Bartleby, Gregor Samsa, and Dostoevsky’s Underground Man. Fancy is by turns frightening, delightful, but always quite strange.
Curtis White, author of Memories of My Father Watching TV and The Science Delusion

Rumrill, ostensibly interviewing Mr. & Mrs. Pickles for the job of housekeepers, draws us irresistibly, if with digressions, into an account of his caring for Mr. Brocklebank and his thirty cats. His manic, hypnotic voice captivates us with its rhythmic swing between “Rumrill said“ and “He added” — complicated by quotes from Brocklebank’s exhaustive philosophical system of “cat fancying.” But are there thirty cats? Any? Is there a Mr. Brocklebank? A Mr. & Mrs. Pickles? One Rumrill? Three? Nothing is certain, but everything hilarious.
Rosmarie Waldrop, author of Driven to Abstraction and Curves to the Apple

Jeremy M. Davies is an incomparable stylist… the machinery of reported speech accrues its inexorable narrative momentum, and a house full of cats becomes a minefield of ethical chaos. Fancy is a true tour de force, a symphonic mise en abyme of such reticulate splendor that a reader can only be awed by its richness, precision, obsession, and gorgeous perversity.
—Mary Caponegro, author of All Fall Down

[A] dark vision of the self fundamentally alone, tying together the planks of its life raft system by system, or as the case may be, cat by cat.
Necessary Fiction

[A] long-winded monologue delivered by a crazy-old-cat-man, who, in between cranky rants about seemingly every irrelevant topic on Earth, sentimentally rhapsodizes the key moment in his long-lost youth: a few blissful months when a fellow librarian used to fellate him in the stacks. Alternately slapstick and pokerfaced, and impeccably timed, Fancy is laugh-out-loud funny, even while it forges new ground in the line of the unstable Thomas Bernhardian narrator.
—Scott Esposito, Bomb Magazine

An ingenious and witty polyphonic invention.
Times Literary Supplement

Praise for Jeremy M. Davies’s previous novel Rose Alley

[E]ach chapter of Davies’s book appropriately ambushes the reader, not with brutality but with wit, irresistible ingenuity, and a stupefying narrative abundance that propels us from one sizzling and often hilarious surprise to the next. You have no excuse for not reading this book.
Harry Mathews

Davies’s prose sings from paragraph to paragraph in that way of Pynchon and Hannah, in that each could stand alone in its music, and each contains multitudes, packed into syllables clearly fought for and refined for their finest parts.
Blake Butler

[A]n impeccable stylist who creates a richness full of Nabokovean Pynchonistics, totally original, dressed in wacky erudition.
Steve Katz

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Come celebrate the publication of Jeremy M. Davies’s FANCY on November 20, 2014: 7PM at Community Bookstore in Park Slope.

Excerpt published in The Brooklyn Rail.

Excerpt published in The Collagist.

An interview with Jeremy M. Davies by the Central St. Louis Public Library’s Scribbler here.

An interview with Jeremy M. Davies by Scott Esposito at Bomb Magazine here.

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Jeremy M. Davies is the author of Rose Alley and is Senior Editor at Dalkey Archive Press.