The Manual of Detection
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The Manual of Detection

By (author) Jedediah Berry

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"This debut novel weaves the kind of mannered fantasy that might result if Wes Anderson were to adapt Kafka." --"The New Yorker" Reminiscent of imaginative fiction from Jorge Luis Borges to Jasper Fforde yet dazzlingly original, "The Manual of Detection" marks the debut of a prodigious young talent. Charles Unwin toils as a clerk at a huge, imperious detective agency located in an unnamed city always slick with rain. When Travis Sivart, the agency's most illustrious detective, is murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted and must embark on an utterly bizarre quest for the missing investigator that leads him into the darkest corners of his soaking, somnolent city. What ensues is a noir fantasy of exquisite craftsmanship, as taut as it is mind- blowing, that draws readers into a dream world that will change what they think about how they think.

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  • Paperback | 278 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.36 x 17.78mm | 226.8g
  • 26 Jan 2010
  • Penguin Books
  • New York, NY
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0143116517
  • 9780143116516
  • 262,553

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Author Information

Jedediah Berry's short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including "Best New American Voices" and "Best American Fantasy." He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he works as assistant editor of Small Beer Press.

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Customer reviews

A Flawless Debut

Here is a delightful little story, quaint and sinister, told in pleasingly plain prose, yet with a rich noir aesthetic. I enjoyed everything about the feel of this book - the embossed boards, pithy epigraphs, playfully named characters and ponderous formality. As a first novel it is remarkable for its discipline and clarity. This is a literary artifact, retrieved from dreams, elusive of meaning and achingly familiar at the same time. It unfolds like a pared-down confection of 'The Man Who Was Thursday' with 'The Infernal Desire Machines Of Doctor Hoffman', to which there are several winks and acts of explicit homage. For all this, the author hasn't tried to be too clever - assisted by a clockwork-steady narrative pace, a small collection of resonant motifs, and an almost affectless protagonist, he creates an hypnotic reading experience. That said, the plot is elaborate, but like those of Chandler, it is ultimately inconsequential - merely a vehicle -and the book would probably be disappointing if read purely as a roman a clef. The Manual Of Detection eschews pathos, depth or worldly relevance, and presents as a work of pure imagination - a procession of images, impervious to parsing or psychological analysis, that remain with us long after we think we have awoken from Berry's dream.show more
by Sholto Spradbury