Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Overlook Preview: Daniel Kalder's STRANGE TELESCOPES

Coming in May is one of the most unusual and arresting books ever published by Overlook, Daniel Kalder's Strange Telescopes: Following the Apocalypse from Moscow to Siberia. Booklist gives us a sneak preview: "In unusual travels in Russia, Kalder, who spent a decade in the country, explored four worlds decidedly beyond the normal. Each is defined by its character, two of them religious in nature, the other two resembling hobbies taken a little too far. In Arkhangelsk, Kalder pursued the builder of what reputedly is the world’s tallest wooden house; in Moscow, he cajoled a tagalong episode with a man obsessed by the city’s tunnels; in Ukraine, he attended an exorcism; and in Siberia immersed himself in a community of believers centered on a traffic-cop-turned-self-proclaimed-Son-of-God, with whom he eventually secured an audience. Declining to default to cynicism toward these people, Kalder ruminates on their self-willed separation from mainstream Russian life and is impressed by their determination to define their own realities, temporal or transcendent. Without surrendering observational acuity about the oddities of the four realms he visits, and including bemusing commentary about Russian travel per se, Kalder’s venture into the eccentric extends the boundaries of ordinary travelogue, surely much to many readers’ satisfaction."

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