A novel by Mark Haber
October 1, 2019 • 5 x 7.75 • 168 pages • 978-1-56689-562-0
In this delightfully dense, fast-paced comedy with notes of László Krasznahorkai and Saul Bellow, Jacov and his scribe cross continents in search of the legendary prophet of melancholic philosophy.
At the turn of the twentieth century, as he composes a treatise on melancholy, Jacov Reinhardt sets off from his small Croatian village in search of his hero and unwitting mentor, Emiliano Gomez Carrasquilla, who is rumored to have disappeared into the South American jungle—“not lost, mind you, but retired.” Jacov’s narcissistic preoccupation with melancholy consumes him, and as he desperately recounts the myth of his journey to his trusted but ailing scribe, hope for an encounter with the lost philosopher who holds the key to Jacov’s obsession seems increasingly unlikely.
From Croatia to Germany, Hungary to Russia, and finally to the Americas, Jacov and his companions grapple with the limits of art, colonialism, and escapism in this antic debut where dark satire and skewed history converge.
About the Author
Mark Haber’s 2008 collection of stories, Deathbed Conversions, was translated into Spanish in 2017. He has served as a juror for the National Endowment for the Arts translation grant as well as the Best Translated Book Award. He lives in Houston, Texas, where he is a bookseller and the operations manager of Brazos Bookstore.
“Jacov Reinhardt and his faithful assistant roam South America in a quixotic search for the essence of melancholy—an enterprise that makes Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, their rough contemporary, come off as a levelheaded pragmatist. To follow Reinhardt, fueled by amounts of cocaine not even Sigmund Freud could have managed, is to walk into a fascinating literary maze that spans from Ulrich Schmidl’s chronicles to the decadent movements in turn-of-the-century Europe and Latin America. Melancholy has never felt more euphoric than in Mark Haber’s breathless paragraph-long novel.” —Hernan Diaz
“Evokes Gertrude Stein, contemporary European and South American writers like Matthias Énard, Roberto Bolaño, and César Aira, with the Quixotic atmosphere of Werner Herzog films like Fitzcarraldo…A strange but lavishly imagined tale of a hard-to-describe feeling.” —Kirkus
“An exhilarating fever dream about the search for the secret of melancholy. . . . Haber’s dizzying vision dextrously leads readers right into the melancholic heart of darkness.” —Publishers Weekly
“Heart of Darkness viewed in a fun house mirror.” —Library Journal
“Haber, who has been called 'one of the most influential yet low-key of tastemakers in the book world,' is about to raise it up a level with the debut of his novel.” —The Millions
“At times we can imagine Haber to be a Latin American writer. This subtle yet brilliant act of mimicry is perhaps the author’s intention all along…” —BOMB Magazine
“The cynicism of Haber’s book is tempered with a sweetness that gives it a lovely balance.…an innovative piece of fiction.” —Houston Chronicle
“There is a strange, beautiful aesthetic in the spun thread of tightly, smoothly laminated prose. . . . to accomplish this art in narration, and Haber has, is masterful, touching on genius.” —Lone Star Literary Life
“In prose as sure as a poison-laced dart, Mark Haber takes the reader on a delirious journey to the heart of melancholy.” —Sjón
“An adventurous journey into the country of melancholy. A fascinating dissection of human vulnerability.” —Guadalupe Nettel
“Reinhardt’s Garden is one of those perfect books that looks small and exotic and melancholic from the outside but, once in, is immense and exultant in the best possible way. Think Amulet by Roberto Bolaño, think Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, think Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, think Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, think Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto, think The Loser by Thomas Bernhard. Think.” —Rodrigo Fresán
“It’s official: Mark Haber’s novel about melancholy is a laugh riot. Narrated by the devoted assistant of pseudo-intellectual Jacov Reinhardt, the reader follows along for their increasingly misbegotten, cocaine-fueled adventures across Europe and South America. Told in one long, feverish paragraph with sentences that surprise at nearly every turn, Reinhardt’s Garden is a gorgeous, joyful, tiny epic. I loved it, and more importantly it got me out of yet another reading rut. Preorder this bad boy from an indie bookstore or Coffee House Press please!” —Annie Metcalf, Magers and Quinn Booksellers
Praise for Mark Haber
“[Mark Haber’s] infinite, fast-paced energy is transparent in the way these stories are constructed. There is no room for awkward silence or meaningless descriptions; everything fits as in a well-told joke that builds on its own momentum. His prose maintains not only a rhythm that seems like a continued punch-line but when it finally arrives at a safe landing place it delivers a terrible reality: the absurdity of failure in his characters’ conditions of possibility tells us way more than what we expected. It is humbling and depressing, all at once.” —Bruno Ríos, Argonáutica