Cardboard Universe, The
A Guide to the World of Phoebus K. Dank
By Christopher Miller
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061686368, 560pp.)
Publication Date: April 2009
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Genius or fraud? Hack or Hemingway? The life and work of obese, obsessive, logorrheic pulp novelist Phoebus K. Dank have long enflamed bitter controversy—and numerous drunken rants often culminating in vomiting, unconsciousness, or both. In this uproarious novel, Christopher Miller pulls back the curtain on two unforgettable critics—fawning scholar William Boswell (the world's leading Dankian) and his mortal enemy, the murderously snarky Owen Hirt. No stone is left unturned—and no gooey mess unstepped in—in this essential study of Dank's all-too-brief existence and all-too-extensive oeuvre.
Christopher Miller is the author of Sudden Noises from Inanimate Objects, a Seattle Times Best Book of the Year. He teaches at Bennington College in Vermont.
“A delight . . . a Day-Glo Pale Fire, and maybe the best pure comic novel of the year.”
-The Believer, citing The Cardboard Universe as a finalist for The Believer Book Awards
“Ingenious.…In the vein of John Kennedy Toole, Swift, and Twain, it’s a tall tale that touches on all manner of topics, from bizarre clothing to punk rock to insomnia….packed with literary allusion and commentary, along with splashes of mystery…a brilliant, deliriously wordy stab at reimagining and recasting fiction.”
“[A] pulp Pale Fire…hilarious.…It’s deranged metafiction at its most entertaining.
“A Dickian feat of science-meta-fiction . . . plenty of devastating laughs . . . tragically funny and funnily tragic.”
-The Wire (Portsmouth, NH)
“Must reading for [Philip K.] Dick fans and anyone who enjoys a little irreverent fun at the expense of a literary world.”
“Miller’s brilliant, hilarious The Cardboard Universe must be read immediately. Sentence by sentence, Miller proves himself a top-notch comedian, a master of invention, and a writer with a big heart.”
-Deb Olin Unferth
“The funniest novel I’ve read in years. Smart, clever, and utterly original…an instant classic that belongs on the same shelf as Catch-22, Portnoy’s Complaint, and A Confederacy of Dunces….[with] mindblowing plot twists worthy of Philip K. Dick himself, merciless mockery of everything ridiculous about the literary life.”
-Mark Jude Poirier, author of Goats and Modern Ranch Living, screenwriter of Smart People
“Chris Miller’s powers of invention seem infinite…one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time.”
-Lynne Sharon Schwartz