Nylund, the Sarcographer


mcsweeney_nylund_cover_largeNylund, the Sarcographer
Joyelle McSweeney

ISBN: 9780977901944
5″x7″, 132 pp, pbk
Oct. 2007

$12 includes shipping in the U.S.
(vs. $14 + $3.99 elsewhere)

Nylund, the Sarcographer is a baroque noir. Its eponymous protagonist is a loner who tries to comprehend everything from the outside, like a sarcophagus, and with analogously ornate results. The method by which the book was written, and by which Nylund experiences the world, is thus called sarcography. Sarcography is like negative capability on steroids; this ultra-susceptibility entangles Nylund in both a murder plot and a plot regarding his missing sister, Daisy. As the murder plot places Nylund in increasing physical danger, his sensuous memories become more present than the present itself.


A Small Press Distribution Fiction Bestseller!

Flights of campy-cum-lyrical post-Ashberyan prose. . . . Language dissolves into stream-of-consanguinity post-surrealism and then resolves into a plot again. . . . recommended.

—Stephen Burt, Harriet

Nylund, the Sarcographer is like interesting on steroids. Caution: if you are looking for a typical, straight forward, good old fashioned yarn, you’d do best to look elsewhere; but if you want to experience something fresh, daring, creepy, and significant, this is the one for you. It is the opposite of boring, an ominous conflagration devouring the bland terrain of conventional realism, the kind of work that tickles your inner ear, gives you the shivers, and tricks your left brain into thinking that your right brain has staged a coup d’état. . . . Other than the incomparable Ben Marcus, I’m not sure anyone in contemporary letters can compete with the voracity of ingenuity, complexity, and beauty of McSweeney’s usage. Each sentence is carefully crafted to upend your expectations in such a way as to make you giddy with anticipation. Call me strange, but I seriously felt a rush of adrenaline from the sheer excitement over what might come next. Seriously, I did. I’m not kidding.

—Christopher Higgs, Bookslut

McSweeney does not marry poetic and prosaic language – rather, she brings them together in a collision of semi-fabulist writing. [She] has not only created a unique concept – that of sarcography – she has illustrated it memorably with a masterful redefinition of what constitutes prose, and created a character who is the very embodiment of writing, reminding us of how flexible the narrative form can be.

—Cynthia Reeser, New Pages

If Vladimir Nabokov wanted to seduce Nancy Drew, he’d read her Nylund one dark afternoon over teacups of whiskey. Welcome to fiction’s new femme fatale, Joyelle McSweeney.

—Kate Bernheimer

If Wallace Stevens had written a novel it might have come close to Joyelle McSweeney’s Nylund, the Sarcographer. But any imagined effort of Mr. Stevens would pale next to Nylund’s journey through the butterflied joinery of syntax, the jerry-rigged joy of this tour de joist. And you thought you knew your own language. This book hands it back to you on a platter and includes the instructional manual for its further use.

—Michael Martone


in Tarpaulin Sky | Typo Magazine | H_NGM_N | 2nd Avenue Poetry | Fairy Tale Review | /nor | in Moonlit


about the author

Joyelle-McSweeney-photoJoyelle McSweeney is the author of two titles with Tarpaulin Sky Press: Nylund, the Sarcographer (2007), and Salamandrine: 8 Gothics (forthcoming, 2013). She also author of four titles from Fence Books: Percussion Grenade, Flet, The Red Bird, and The Commandrine and Other Poems.

Read more at our author page for Joyelle McSweeney.