An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky

A novel by Dan Beachy-Quick

September 3, 2013 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 256 pages • 978-1-56689-341-1

Tree of Life meets In Search of Lost Time in this contemporary tale of loss and the power of story.

Daniel is pursued by stories. His father, in thrall to a myth, has disappeared; his mother and sister, too; and Lydia, his lover, leaves him and the novel he cannot finish for quantum mechanics, the place where theory tells tales about the real. And then there is Pearl, the girl beneath the floorboards, whose adventures hum alongside Daniel’s own. In this contemporary, contemplative fairy tale, the autobiographical novel takes on the cast of legend, and the uncertainty of memory leaves reality on shaky ground. Can parallel universes exist? Can a preoccupation with Moby Dick overwhelm the story unfolding before you? Where do you stand in relation to the metaphysics of your own life?

About the Author

Dan Beachy-Quick is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Circle’s Apprentice; two books of prose, A Whaler’s Dictionary and Wonderful Investigations; as well as a number of chapbooks and two collaborations, Conversities (with Srikanth Reddy) and Work from Memory (with Matthew Goulish). He teaches in the MFA program at Colorado State University, and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife and two daughters.


“Dive in, & beneath Beachy-Quick’s carefully sculpted language, you'll find a love story. . . . [Dan Beachy-Quick] writes with heightened lyricism, an ear for rhythm and rich sensory detail.” —Chicago Tribune

“A marvelous novel, by turns lyrical, realistic, dreamlike, and philosophical but always intelligent and gorgeously written.” Kirkus, starred review

“A first novel from poet Beachy-Quick reads much like its oblique but beautiful title. Enjoy the spell created by his sentences. . . . Readers with a taste for adult fairy tales will want to experience this world.” Library Journal

“Dizzying and beautiful. . . .We read through An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky extracting patterns, diligently cataloging in the margins any allusions we recognize. Like Daniel, we hope for a glimpse, however fleeting it might be, of this disparate world as a cohesive whole—somethingness, a world with meaning.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Slipping through time, reality, and fantasy, this inspired novel from Beachy-Quick tells the story of Daniel, a college professor adrift in a sea of narratives. . . . Driven by images of pearls, sleeping giants, whales, and volcanoes, Daniel searches for the truth of life while acknowledging the failures of memory.” Publishers Weekly

“Striking poet Beachy-Quick offers a first novel of sorts that promises to be an engaging study of memory, storytelling, and coming of age.” Library Journal

“Here’s the thing about stories that play with narrative structure: They can either be brilliantly revealing or annoyingly oblique. Fortunately, Beachy-Quick’s clever, intricately layered novel falls into the former camp, following a college professor who’s drowning in narratives—that of Melville and Emerson as well as fairy tales from childhood—and an autobiographical work he’s trying to write.” Chicago Tribune Printers Row

“[An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky] veers into the territory of dreamy fairy tales and metaphysics as it follows Daniel, a writer working on an autobiographical novel, as he contends with the disappearance of his academic father, the deaths of his mother and sister, and the end of his relationship with his pregnant lover.” Cleveland Plain Dealer

“With this contemporary fairy tale, Beachy-Quick has reimagined the autobiographical form to include the cast of archetypical legend.” —Denver Examiner

“Beachy-Quick floods his novel with a rich confluence of ideas, some limpid, many opaque, but every one flowing. This is fiction that challenges and perplexes laced with poetry with the power to affect.” The Rumpus

“Philosophy and poetry collide, colored in by fairy tales and the childhoods they possess—equal parts Edith Wharton and the brothers Grimm.” PANK

An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky is a quiet book packed with a lot of baggage, but the weight of its meaning, the questions it raises, is made lighter by the beauty of the language and the subtle evolutions it contains. It's a bit like watching the stars’ determined journey across the sky on a clear night, the very thing that would've entranced Melville's Ishmael.” The Collagist

“Daniel, the narrator of Dan Beachy-Quick’s novel, An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky, waltzes through time like a boy through a crumbling house. . . . This book is wild and ambitious.” KGB Bar Lit Journal

“[An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky] is at times quite poignant. . . .These works too argue for themselves as achievements, talismanic keys attaining some degree of access to ‘life’s white machine’ and ‘desire’s buzz.’” Full Stop

“Dan Beachy-Quick explores the complex relationship between fathers and sons in his first novel. Dedicated readers . . . will be rewarded with a rich tale that builds toward a surprising crescendo on the final pages.” —5280: The Denver Magazine

“Dan Beachy-Quick’s first novel is a book of psalms in which we watch the narrator improvise hymns of himself from the fleeting stuff of each passing moment—from experience and memory, from the art where he glimpses himself darkly, from holy, personal words which adhere and disperse and arrange again into fragile self-portraits that give way even as they are realized, each mysterious, each miraculous, and each in which we always catch a glimmer of our own fraught human careers.” —Paul Harding

“Exploring Proustian questions about identity’s fragmentation . . . Beachy-Quick puts into laymen’s terms the types of theories we’ve read elsewhere—those that leave us with a de-centered, multiple, splintered model of the self, but that don’t then tell us how we might practically engage in daily activities or form relationships with that awareness. ‘Lucas’ isn’t ‘Lucas’—now that we’ve realized it, this novel seems to ask, how do we live with that?” Open Letters Monthly

“Dan Beachy-Quick’s debut novel An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky captivates and amazes with its lyrical language and adroit exploration of themes of memory and storytelling.” Largehearted Boy

“Encapsulated within this cyclical narrative—time, family, the white whale, all in ‘[a] single grain of sand’—is the obsessiveness & lyricality you’ve come to expect from Beachy-Quick.” Ostrich Review

“Beachy-Quick has written an incantation. . . . The writing is by turns luminous and melancholy, with fluid, long sentences like water, trickling and eddying. . . . I give the book and its author five stars. [I] can think of very few books that have captivated me in the same way.” —Mystics of the Ordinary

“A metafictional exploration of fatherhood, memory, loss, and guilt [that] self-consciously engages the power of narratives: personal, cultural, and literary to both haunt and heal.” The Girl Who Ate Books

“I am not sure if I read this novel or if it bloomed for me, like a night flower. I cherish the exquisite story and style of Dan Beachy-Quick’s fairy-tale fiction.” —Kate Bernheimer, author of Horse, Flower, Bird

“This is a rich, profound, fascinating book, the kind that widens the margins of everything we read, making room for new observations, more creative relationships all around: writer/reader, person/book, literature/life.” —Los Angeles Times