This is These Lowly Objects, a tale about the enigmatic Jules Lalande, an aristocrat, soldier, forger, painter. A grifter, shape-shifter, cad, flâneur, and more than anything, the most unreliable of narrators. Lalande’s story shifts as often as he changes identities. When he vanishes, the mystery of his disappearance bedevils Titus Pidgeon, an investigator who retraces the great artist’s last years.
During the hunt for Lalande, Pidgeon encounters the man’s complicated wife, Isobel, and seeks answers from a milieu of spoiled artists, off-kilter Dadaists, and eccentric literary greats, all who have their own opinions about what happened to Lalande. Who was the outlandish Jules Lalande, that charlatan who could con his way out of any scrape, whose antics still haunt his friends years later? Who is that mercurial, God-like man?
These Lowly Objects explores an uproarious era, a time of tremendous social and artistic change; it is a sweeping ghost story of love and art, a mystery about alter egos, a novel that transports readers to fin de siècle Europe and the Americas while they endure battles in the Great War, bootleg through Prohibition-era New York, and loaf in the jungles of 1920s Cuba. With all these lofty events and lowly objects, Lalande reinvents himself, and McGowan retools the roman à clef.
Jules Lalande soon will make his grand entrance courtesy of Gold Wake Press.
Cate McGowan’s debut story collection, True Places Never Are (Moon City Press), winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award and a finalist for the Lascaux Review 2015 Short Fiction Collection Contest, introduces us to an assortment of unforgettable characters on a voyage through loss and salvation.
McGowan’s book title borrows from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, or the Whale: “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” The characters who populate these stories venture into wondrous worlds as knotty and distressing as the locales where they live and love.
Blue, with his frenetic need to paint, longs for what might be a mermaid with narcolepsy. Tara and David, floating between childhood and adulthood, intertwine languidly on the cusp of . . . something. Violet Gray Witherspoon, a name of nouns, spills yearning verbs onto secret pages. Jebediah dances with sacrifice, then freedom. Superheroes emerge in unlikely places. Rats expose themselves in the prison yard. A crop of immigrant birds wings its way across a new homeland.
McGowan’s stories will pull you into the picture, close enough to taste the paint fresh upon the canvas. This book will take you to places you never dreamed you'd visit, but you won't regret the journey. Fasten your seat belt for a memorable ride.