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Catalog Archive / Spring 2023

This Room Is Made of Noise

“Everything you want in a novel: exquisitely imagined, big-hearted, full of grace, with unforgettable characters you will laugh with, cry with, and root for. Schottenfeld has given us a beautiful story for our times—a room you will want to settle in and think of as home.”
—Paul Yoon, author of Run Me to Earth

What would you do if no one was looking?

While trying to drum up additional work, down-on-his-luck handyman Don Lank spies an imitation Tiffany lamp shining in the front window of a house. He offers the elderly widow who answers the door $800 for it—knowing he can sell it to a dealer for several hundred dollars more than that. Only the lamp turns out to be real—and worth at least $15,000.

Feeling both delighted by and guilty about his good fortune, Don returns most of the money to the original owner, Millie Prall. He also offers to make a few repairs around her deteriorating house‐making it easier and safer for her to navigate the space in the wake of her husband's death. As Millie’s dementia worsens, Don finds his life more and more enmeshed with hers, driving her to medical appointments, shopping for her groceries, cooking her meals, handling her finances, and increasingly overseeing her care—while simultaneously trying to repair his relationships with his father, his ex-wife, and his stepkids.

In this quietly mesmerizing novel, no one, including the protagonist, is ever entirely sure of their motivations. Existing in the liminal spaces between altruism and greed, This Room Is Made of Noise deftly explores the shades of gray that lie between our desires and our demons.

 

Stephen Schottenfeld. Stephen Schottenfeld, associate professor of English at the University of Rochester, is the author of Bluff City Pawn. His stories have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, the New England Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

 

 

Praise

“A tightly calibrated tale of isolation and connection. As he proved in his first novel, Stephen Schottenfeld writes about work—the dailiness of it, the paycheck of it, the way it slowly and inevitably shapes a life—with an authority few contemporary novelists can match. This is realistic fiction that manages to depict the hopes and the failings, the self-deception and the grace, of recognizable human characters—our fellow citizens—with a vividness that both illuminates and elevates, perhaps even unites.”
—Alice McDermott, author of The Ninth Hour

“A marvel—a book that somehow manages to be both tense and comforting, brainy and plainspoken. A book that is calm on the surface but underneath there is a strong current of mystery. Is the narrator what he seems? Is the widow? Are we to trust either of them? Are we to trust anyone, even—or especially—ourselves? This is a wonderful book, full of pain and pleasure, despair and hope—full of life, in other words.”
—Brock Clarke, author of Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?

 

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Larger images

April 2023
LC: 2022028879 PS
280 pp. 6 x 9

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Paper $18.95
ISBN 9780299341343
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