Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
Length: 240 Pages
'A work of genius' Ben Fountain
'A bittersweet book, but also a sharp and profoundly wise one' Herald
'Searcy writes with an urgency that makes his essays matter. Where the shame comes in is not certain, but the wonder is that you begin a year having never heard of an author then, two weeks in, his words are lodged in your consciousness and you are telling everybody you know to read his book' Independent
Like dispatches from another world, the twenty-one essays in David Searcy’s debut collection Shame and Wonder are unfamiliar, profound and haunting.
In his late sixties, the Texan author David Searcy became drawn to non-fiction, writing ‘straight-up’, on note pad and manual typewriter, a series of disparate thoughts and interests. These unframed apprehensions, as he called them – of forgotten baseball fields, childhood dreams of space travel, the bedtime stories he’d invent for his young children – evolved into a sequence of extraordinary essays probing the pivots and pathways of his life, and puzzling out what they might mean.
Expansive in scope, but deeply personal in their perspective, the pieces in Shame and Wonder forge beautiful connections that make the everyday seem almost extraterrestrial, creating intricate and glittering constellations of words and ideas. Radiant and strange and suffused with longing, this collection is a work of true grace, wisdom and joy.
Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
Length: 240 Pages
Shame and Wonder is a work of genius. A very particular kind of genius, to be sure, one that bides more comfortably with questions, potentialities, mysteries and wonders than with the hard and fast answers that the information age has taught us to crave. How rare these days to commit oneself to uncertainty, but when it's done as David Searcy does it – gently, insistently, ever alert to all shades of slapstick and tragic – the inquiry itself becomes the revelation, an object lesson in what it means to be human. If you want to know things, real things, read Shame and Wonder. It will knock you flat and lift you up.
David Searcy reminds us what voice means and why it’s useful. We can hear something here, something achieved and distinctive. A writer has figured out how to bring the style of his prose into near-perfect alignment with his habit of mind, and to trust the impulses of his curiosity, in such a way that we seem to experience not effort but flowing thought.
Reading David Searcy isn’t like reading anyone else. Following the path of his thoughts is endlessly surprising. I will keep thinking about the inquisitive intelligence of this book for the rest of my life.
From his home range in Texas, David Searcy undertakes a skewed examination of the human condition – by searching for the answers to questions that no-one else has quite thought to ask. Shame and Wonder is quirky, hugely original, sometimes funny and sometimes profound, and yes, it is a book filled with wonders.
Strange, wonderful, and full of curiosity and nostalgia, David Searcy’s essays chip away at the world around us to lay bare the beauty and sadness at the heart of it all.
Astonishing. The fact that Searcy is an idiosyncratic writer can be seen by the first page of any one of his essays, the fact that he’s a great writer by the last.
Hangdog dejection and unlikely epiphanies infuse these offbeat, beguiling essays. Searcy’s writing is by sharp turns goofy, wry, and melancholy, tentative at times but always curious and superbly evocative. His essays meander along wisps of metaphorical connection, leaping from tooth-flossing to 17th-century housing, from Zuni religious rituals to cereal box prizes, from his mother’s stilllife painting to medieval Platonism. The result is a funny, haunting journey through mysterious enlightenments.
The book’s best passages are its simplest. A chapter called 'Love in Space' contains lucid memories of what it was like to be seven during the race to the moon, when 'the call to space rang clear across the land'. As with Dyer and also Karl Ove Knausgaard – whom Searcy resembles in his confessional style – the ability to re-inhabit the childhood self gives freshness to adult observations. Writing and paintings and films, Searcy is succinct and insightful.
The essays in this debut collection… suggest what might happen if Stephen King somehow morphed into David Foster Wallace… Meaning and mystery coexist in Searcy's mind, and his offbeat, exciting writing will resonate with readers for whom "you never know" and "who knew?" might be mantras.
With these subtle, irreverent, meditative essays David Searcy takes the reader on a leisurely tour through the labyrinth of his fascinations, unspooling a golden thread of astonishment as he goes. Sometimes wistful, always surprising, he looks without flinching on both the shame and the wonder inherent in being human.