Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return

A novel by Martin Riker

October 9, 2018 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 256 pages • 978-1-56689-528-6

After he dies, Samuel Johnson inhabits one body after the next, waiting for a chance to return to his son.

When Samuel Johnson dies, he finds himself in the body of the man who killed him, unable to depart this world but determined, at least, to return to the son he left behind. Moving from body to body as each one expires, Samuel’s soul journeys on a comic quest through an American half-century, inhabiting lives as stymied, in their ways, as his own. A ghost story of the most unexpected sort, Martin Riker’s extraordinary debut is about the ways experience is mediated, the unstoppable drive for human connection, and the struggle to be more fully alive in the world.

About the Author

Martin Riker grew up in central Pennsylvania. He worked as a musician for most of his twenties, worked in nonprofit literary publishing for most of his thirties, and has spent the first half of his forties teaching in the English department at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2010, he and his wife Danielle Dutton co-founded the feminist press Dorothy, a Publishing Project. His fiction and criticism have appeared in publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, London Review of Books, the Baffler, and Conjunctions. This is his first novel.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


A Summer/Fall 2018 Indies Introduce Debut Fiction Selection

“A quirky novel that uses the transmigration of the soul to meditate on the human condition.” —Kirkus

“. . . the debut of Riker’s first novel, Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return, is so thrilling for us bookish types.” —The Millions

“John Donne once proclaimed, ‘I sing the progress of a deathless soul.’ Well, so does Martin Riker. His Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return is a masterpiece of metempsychosis. That it also warbles and bellows so brilliantly about fatherhood and husbandhood, about the religious life and the mediated life, is an indication of Riker’s range, which is as rolling-field- expansive as his empathy.” —Joshua Cohen

“One of our finest readers is now one of our most exciting novelists. . . . A funny, amiable, wholly original time-bender of a debut.” —Ed Park

“By turns hilarious and tragic, Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return is a haunting and bizarre novel of twentieth-century television and other forsaken American landscapes.” —Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi

“After his violent death, Samuel Johnson inhabits multiple souls as he strives to reunite with his now orphaned young son. Traveling between dark humor, unfathomable tragedy, and tracing the history of television in America, Martin Riker's outstanding debut novel Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return illustrates how the human spirit can persevere.” ―Caitlin Luce Baker, University Book Store (Seattle WA)

“Ambitious and memorable, deadly serious and unexpectedly comic, Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return is the ghost story you’ve been waiting for.” ―Michael Hermann, Gibson's Bookstore (Concord NH)