In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife's beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.
This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.
Praise for In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
""There is a power here that is almost overwhelming. The force of the writing is derived from something elemental and primal. Unlike anything I have read in a long time.”
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
""Matt Bell does not write sentences—he writes spells. He is not a novelist—he is a mystic. This book, which will grip you in an otherworldly trance, reads like something divined from tea leaves or translated from a charcoal cipher on a cave wall.""
—Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Wilding
""In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is a big, slinking, dangerous fairy tale, the kind with gleaming fangs and blood around the muzzle and a powerful heart you can hear thumping from miles away. The story's ferocity is matched by Matt Bell's glorious sentences: sinuous and darkly magical, they are taproots of the strange.""
—Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia
“This is a fiercely original book--at once intimate and epic, visceral and philosophical--that sent me scurrying for adjectives, for precedents, for cover. Matt Bell commands the page with bold, vigorous prose and may well have invented the pulse-pounding novel of ideas.”
—Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
“Bell puts the fable in fabulism.... This spare, devastating novel... is as beautiful as it is ruinous. A tragedy of fantastic proportions, the book’s musical, often idiosyncratic prose will carry its readers into an unfamiliar but unforgettable world.""
—Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“Challenging, boldly experimental.”
“Matt Bell’s visionary debut novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and Woods
is one of the most singularly strange and beautiful and wondrous books to come along in a long time.... [Bell] has invented an entirely new rhetoric of fiction and marked unique territory of his own.”—Tin House
“In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
... has an impressive wealth to share with its reader... it’s a gorgeous, bottomless book.”—Ploughshares
“One of the year’s best novels ... Bell keeps the narrative evolving, shifting groundrules and revealing more about his setting and characters. Disorienting and evocative, this is a fantastic reading experience.”—Vol 1. Brooklyn
“Meticulously designed, with a particular focus on the musicality of its sentences.... an unflinching portrait of the struggle to keep a family intact.”—Kirkus Review
Praise for Matt Bell
""Gorgeous, brilliant, often darkly hilarious and always moving.... Written with an ingenuity and joy that call to mind Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities.""—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
""No less original or thought-provoking than contemporary fabulist stalwarts like Aimee Bender or Etgar Keret, [he] expands the scope of experimental writing.""—Fiction Writers Review
""Matt Bell can do what so many fiction writers can't: Matt Bell can make anything happen.""—Michael Kimball, author of Big Ray
""Matt Bell has built a national reputation on his own terms, completely outside the support system of New York publishing, on the strength of his stories and novellas, which are wholly original and singularly his own.”—HTMLGIANT
“A compelling portrait both of the way a heated mind can come to recreate the world and of how fascination with such a mind can end up being its own sort of trap. A wonderful, obsessive novella.”—Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain
""His wild manipulation of form and genre makes the bulk of contemporary fiction feel bloodless and inert in comparison.""—Matthew Derby, author of Super Flat Times
""Bell brings us everything: symbolism, futurism à la David Ohle, devastation, surrealism, scenic energy, fractured fairytales, consumption, struggle, claustrophobia, and family decay... [But] Bell knows how to keep his world in check, his every word balanced against another, delicately, like a system of weights.""—The Rumpus