Richard Kalich’s new novel is a culmination of his decades-long exploration of the human soul and the capstone of his literary output that Betimes Books is proud to have assembled in an omnibus edition called Central Park West Trilogy.
This forth novel is an honest and brutal self-assessment, a meditation on life and art, and the sacrifice of one to the other. Written in Kalich’s deceptively simple and spare style that seems effortless, but where each word carries the weight of years of writing, reflections, sacrifices, The Assisted Living Facility Library is a heart-breaking metafictional masterpiece by a tragic humanist.
“What makes The Assisted Living Facility Library so powerful is its ability to combine formal rigor and meta-fictional playfulness with an almost yearning—but altogether genuine and painful—emotionality. This is experimental fiction at its best and most human. With the control of the great postmodernists and the precision of detail of Murnane, this is a book about the way in which books form a life, and how, as a life comes to its end, both the books and the life itself become whittled down to what is glowingly essential.” —Brian Evenson
About Richard Kalich
Brian McHale to Richard Kalich:
“Last night I finished reading The Assisted Living Facility Library. I found it very moving and very disturbing – but more moving than disturbing. Please don’t take this wrong, but it’s possible that you’ve written the last postmodern novel; or maybe the last twentieth-century novel; or maybe the last novel, period. (Not really, of course; there’ll be plenty of books published in years to come with novel on the title-page. It’s just that there shouldn’t be.)
I wonder if you’re familiar with the rhetorical and narratological concept of metalepsis? It’s when a character at one level of reality interacts with a character a different, lower or higher level – when the murderer in the thriller being read by the reader in Cortázar’s Continuity of Parks approaches across the park to kill the reader. Or when the character confronts his author in Unamuno’s Niebla; or when Vonnegut emancipates Kilgore Trout in Breakfast of Champions. The critical consensus seems to be that metalepsis is a case of big ideas swamping human interest (as in Unamuno), or just a cheap trick (as in Vonnegut), but I’ve always felt that it was more deeply serious than it gets credit for. It casts a long, dark shadow – deep and dark enough to get lost in. Your novel confirms my feeling.”