An occult Nazi program is threatened by a philosopher’s letter to a friend in this “stunning work, full of mystery and strange tenderness” (Dan Chaon).
In the waning days of World War II, Nazi Germany is coming apart at the seams. Yet the death machine continues to churn. The Third Reich’s obsession with the astral plane has led to the formation of an underground compound of scribes—translators charged with answering letters addressed to concentration camp inmates who are most likely dead.
Into this covert compound comes a letter written by eminent philosopher Martin Heidegger to his optometrist, a prisoner of Auschwitz. Goebbels himself has demanded a response. But the mere presence of Heidegger’s words—one simple letter in a place filled with letters—sparks a series of events that will ultimately threaten the safety of the entire compound.
With this debut novel that is part thriller and part meditation on how the dead are remembered—and with threads of Heidegger’s philosophy woven throughout—Thaisa Frank deftly reconstructs the landscape of Nazi Germany in “a spellbinding, innovative, intellectually compelling tour–de–force” (Michelle Huneven).
New and Selected Stories
The short fiction of Thaisa Frank has captivated readers for two decades, and now many of those pieces are collected in one volume, along with several new stories. In the title story, a lonely mother and housewife orders an enchanted man from a website called The Wondrous Traveler, who arrives with instructions for use and a list of frequently asked questions about enchantment. In "Thread," two circus performers who pass through the eye of a needle become undone by a complicated love triangle. In "Henna," a young writing teacher must contend with an exotic student who will not write, her hands covered in dye and her fingers "sprouting innumerable gardens." And in "The Loneliness of the Midwestern Vampire," the undead descend upon the heartland of the country and become accustomed to its friendlier way of life, attending barn raisings and feasting on cattle in an attempt to normalize their darker passions.
These are vibrant, compelling stories that examine the distance between imagination and reality, and how characters bridge that gap in their attempt to reach one another.