Tortoise cover by Ellen Harvey

cover by Ellen Harvey


James Lewelling

124 pages

ISBN 978-0-9798080-2-9


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James Lewelling's first novel, This Guy, was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2006. Though he has kicked around a bit, for the last six years he has been living and working in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Tortoise enacts a kind of prodigal son story gone bad. Having received a mysterious telephone call summoning him home, the protagonist flies half-way around the world to hear what he believes will be the final words of his "accursed progenitor" (as Beckett would have it). Somewhat in the manner of W. G. Sebald, the narrative is driven simultaneously by the journey and the protagonist's increasingly urgent ruminations on the facts of his life and current predicament.

"... Tortoise’s pleasure lies in Lewelling’s disturbingly skillful depiction of our country’s current malaise. "

—A.D. Jameson, from The Review of Contemporary Fiction

"Lewelling is a patient, crafty writer, building up his story slowly, as if by accidental accretion, the minutia of human experience laid bare with a pleasing revelatory exactitude. Absurd, impossible conclusions are frequent, but only in denouement do events themselves become fully unreal, and by the time they do, reality seems no less strange."

—Matt Everett, from a review in Brooklyn Rail

"It's a story both futile and meaningful, jaded and innocent, a story about how stories don't cut the muster. And in its telling, it digs down against our deepest, most unsettling truths.."

—James Lough, from a review in elimae

Excerpts from Tortoise appeared in (sequential order as they appear in novel): 5cense (pages 7-9), Projected Letters (pages 45-51), elimae (pages 51-52), Evergreen Review (pages 55-62) and Word Riot (pages 63-65).

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