Dan Chaon’s new story in Tin House

Dan Chaon’s new story in Tin House

I just finished reading “To Psychic Underworld:” by Dan Chaon. A wonderful, unsettling story that left (in me, anyway) a strange floating, untethered feeling. It’s hard to explain.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned him before on this site, but Dan Chaon is one of my favorite writers. “Among the Missing” is one of the best story collections of the past decade, and I was especially impressed by his most recent novel “Await Your Reply,” which has an interesting, almost cinematic sense of pacing and momentum.  It’s hard to describe without giving too much away, but the novel has three intertwined storylines: a man searching for his mentally ill brother, a recent high school graduate running away with her former teacher, and a young man reinventing himself after his family thinks he’s dead.  There are issues related to identity.  There are tricksters.

Most of Chaon’s previous work was set in the American Midwest, but this novel has a more global feel, as characters from all over the world interact in unexpected ways. One can imagine the author feeling somewhat liberated by all the possibilities–the main characters are great, but some of the novel’s memorable moments involved jolly menacing Russians and an African hairdresser. Highly recommended.

Graphic by Janet Parker

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