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Adrift in a Vanishing City


Adrift in a Vanishing City
by Vincent Czyz

short stories

"Deeply romantic (in the best sense) and darkly evocative, Czyz's lush style explores regions well beyond simple narrative, probing the constantly shifting, oblique connections between failure, memory and the forever-incomplete nature of human desire. A moody, gorgeous and formally innovative collection, Adrift in a Vanishing City deserves a wide audience among readers who understand that fiction is about more than getting a character from one room to the next."

–Greg Burkman, The Seattle Times

"Adrift is a book that rewards multiple readings and demands to be quoted, as the multilayered construction of Czyz's prose enables Adrift to speak toward those depths of mind and memory that tend to elude language. Readers should rejoice that Czyz has explored this city and has returned from the underworld with a song to recover the vanishing dimensions of ourselves."

–Matt Badura, Review of Contemporary Fiction

“There is something of Virginia Woolf’s toxic perfume, the tincture of bemused sadness, the glorying in the jewel-tones of the half-healed bruise, the thing that—in being left one-quarter undone—is therefore promising forever.

“The writer is in love with difficulty. The writer is forced to buy many magazine subscriptions that will never produce even the first month’s issue. And yet this fiction is always listening, constantly forgiving, in love with the material world and it home-made, self-defensive talk-dat-talk genius.

“Behind the flash, there waits a patience.

“Beyond technique, we feel a wise heart, expecting little while hoping for everything. We find someone making, as all true artists do, a great deal from a little of everything.

“The seasick rodeo of ‘Zee Gee and the Blue Jean Queen’ recalls a country and western ballad when you’re newly drunk enough to hear it plain—without snobbism, without irony, without the upstaging tooth of self-pity. This tale recalls the very second with the Pain and the Bourbon go on a first-name basis, when the Pain and the Bourbon, buddies suddenly, start not just talking, but telling and telling unto that accidental byproduct and salvation we call Singing.

Here is a song to the weird sweetness behind loving the wrong person perfectly.”

—Allan Gurganus, citation for the 1994 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Prize for Short Story (“Zee Gee and the Blue Jean Baby Queen”)

“Written in hauntingly lyrical prose, Czyz’s short stories unfold like a vivid tapestry that is held together by [the] thread of human experience.”

—Michelle Howe, Newark Star Ledger

Certain books require a patient reader, one with the ability to concentrate closely and intently. Sentences are not straightforward or transparent, but long and labyrinthine, like intriguing yet shadowy dreams. The writing, more like poetry than prose, calls attention to language, to the fullness of a word, a sentence, with the purpose of expressing inexpressible emotions and experiences. Think of Proust’s Remembrance of things Past or Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury or, more recently, William Vollmann’s Fathers and Crows. […] Vincent Czyz’s Adrift in a Vanishing City is just this sort of work: lyrical and pensive, an odd and often beautiful portrait of longing.”

–Capper Nichols, Minnesota Daily

“I could speak at length about how much I admire Czyz’s considerable talent, his fictive range, his willingness to plunge naked into the gutter, leap after stellar contrails, his grasp of how ravenously one body grasps another, or of how his impossible apostrophes out of the night are the necessary utterances that make life possible, confronted with the silence of the day, with the deafness of those who never hear.” 

–Samuel R. Delany, preface to Adrift in a Vanishing City

“Reading Vincent Czyz’s book is like visiting someone else’s dream. He has a gift for vivid and surreal imagery, lush muscular prose and strangely mesmerizing landscapes. Inthis, his first book, he’s created a dark-side-of-the-moon original.”

–Peter Blauner, author of The Intruder (Peter’s a good commercial novelist and now a tv script writer)

"In poetic prose that flouts conventional fictive forms, Czyz draws on classical myth, fable, folklore, Shakespearean tragedy, and other genres to create a metaphor of modern alienation."

—Joe Castronovo, New Jersey Herald & News

“Czyz is more than a bit mystical; indeed, he searches for rapture ... What he's really after, however, is to find mystery within mystery, to have experiences he cannot live without yet cannot pin down. [...] It is as if shredded maps occupy Czyz most, transparencies and fringes, people whose identities do not have clear outlines, for themselves or others." 

–Paul West






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Vincent Czyz is the recipient of the 1994 W. Faulkner-W. Wisdom Prize for Short Fiction as well as two grants from the NJ Council on the Arts. The 2011 Truman Capote Fellow at Rutgers University, he has placed stories in Shenandoah, AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, Georgetown Review, Quiddity, Tampa Review, Tin House (online), Louisiana Literature, Southern Indiana Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Camera Obscura, and Archaeopteryx, among other publications. He lives in Jersey City, NJ with his wife, Neslihan.