These Lowly Objects
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.
“These Lowly Objects is a hilarious historical romp, whose rich mystery often progresses by destabilizing what the reader thinks they know, always promising the real truth must surely be just a few pages farther in. McGowan's gorgeous prose captivates throughout, creating a richly imagined caper full of honest oddities and clever games, surprising disguises and brilliant deceptions.”
—Matt Bell, author of Scrapper
“In These Lowly Objects, Cate McGowan has fashioned one of the great fictional characters of our time in Jules Lalande, Dadaist extraordinaire. From his Dickensian childhood alongside a second cousin (and later, wife), Isobel, McGowan tracks—in rich, rigorous prose—the Zelig-like Lalande's wanderings through fin de siècle Paris as he rubs elbows with Degas and Cézanne, fights in World War I, lands in New York with Breton, becomes a professional boxer, hangs out with Duchamp, and disappears in Cuba—or does he? Enter this remarkably imagined, enchanted world and discover the many delights of McGowan's marvelous creation.”
—Robin Lippincott, author of Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell
“Cate McGowan’s novel, These Lowly Objects, is a vertiginous, absinthe dream, a kaleidoscope of alchemized selves, reminiscent of Hawkes’s The Lime Twig, Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, or Adler’s Speedboat—a steep precipice, a fierce cataract of language like nothing I’ve read, a gorgeous outwitting of time, a slipping of the sleeve of self/selves through a high wire act of literary imagination. Brava!”
—Melissa Pritchard, author of Palmerino and A Solemn Pleasure
“These Lowly Objects is history wrapped in lyricism glimpsed through stained glass within a hall of mirrors. Mysterious, surreal, and deeply satisfying, this novel is the page-turner you've been seeking, and Cate McGowan is the writer you've been waiting for.”
—David James Poissant, author of Lake Life and The Heaven of Animals
“Lyrical, stunning, and deeply strange, Cate McGowan’s novel concerns a shape-shifting protagonist, Jules Lalande. Lalande disappeared years ago: various people—his estranged wife Isobel Wright, journalist Titus Pidgeon, and the people Pidgeon interviews, including historical figures like Andre Breton and Marcel Duchamp—chase his scent. McGowan’s luminous novel tracks their efforts to conjure this enigmatic poet-painter-performance artist-thief-con man-duke-trauma victim-killer-healer. Twisty and original, These Lowly Objects is fundamentally about self-hood, its precariousness and perishability, and its surprising capacity for resurrection.”
—Kim Magowan, author of The Light Source and Undoing
“I have been a longtime fan of McGowan's short stories, so a debut novel from her is cause for celebration. She has given us not only a novel, but an epic, written in her unmistakably lyrical voice that shines with deep emotion and intelligence. This is a must-read.”
—Silas House, author of Southernmost
Copyright © 2020 Cate McGowan. All rights reserved.