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The Swing Voter of Staten Island (Akashic Urban Surreal Series) [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Swing Voter of Staten Island (Akashic Urban Surreal Series) by Arthur Nersesian...

Praise for The Swing Voter of Staten Island:


Having first dazzled Weird-Lit ultra-hipsters with The Fuck-Up in 1997, Nersesian (Unlubricated, 2004, etc.) rounds out a busy decade with a dystopian epic.

Combining sci-fi space/time-warping, Unabomber-style political ranting and an overall air of goose-bump paranoia, this is one turbo-charged trip through a version of the 1980s no one could love. A gumbo of Weather Underground, S.L.A. and Black Panther droogies take over New York City in the '70s, splashing dirty bombs helter-skelter. Manhattan basically kaput, the federal government designates a former "military simulation city," a radioactive desert outside Vegas, as the New New York. The geographic layout's a convincing copy, but landmark names are corrupted: "Vampire Stake Building," "Onion Square," "Rock & Filler Center." And the Gangs of New York rule, with the Boroughs divided between Piggers (or We the Peoplers) and Crappers (All Created Equalers), political parties at mutual knifepoint. Into this bedlam drops protagonist Uli, a Manchurian Candidate knock-off programmed by mysterious nefarious forces to assassinate Dropt, a rival candidate to Pigger Mayor Shub. Hizzonner spouts masterful Orwellian jive ("He's intractable in a business that requires a lot of tractoring!"), and the citizens, when not overdosing on creepy new drugs, fantasize returning to the real Manhattan. But much to the fury of Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg, Ronald Reagan is running for re-election. If Staten Island's borough president allies with the national Democrats and Reagan loses, nobody gets to go back, because it's only budget-crunching Ronnie who wants to deep-six the fake New York. The loony-tune plot merely serves as a launch pad for Nersesian's meditations on Vietnam-era military insanity, big-city frenzy and the Tower of Babel capacities of language.

A sharp, strange read: Imagine William Burroughs and Philip K. Dick sharing a needle."


Nersesian has carved out his niche with novels like The Fuck-Up and Unlubricated about New Yorkers trapped in their own ugly lives. His sixth is similarly sordid but uncharacteristically fantastical. Over the course of a week in a counterfactual 1980, amnesiac protagonist Uli must navigate a reproduction of New York City built in Nevada after the original was destroyed. He quickly learns that the city is divided into territories run by Piggers and Crappers ("political parties, or gangs") and he has been programmed to assassinate the Crapper candidate for mayor. Manhattan and Brooklyn belong to Crappers, the Bronx and Queens are held by Piggers; Staten Island is independent, and thus constitutes the swing vote in the mayoral and--more importantly--presidential elections. "Rescue City" consists of smaller, cheaper versions of the original: bridges are made of rotten boards, famous landmarks are redubbed corrupt versions of their real names (e.g., Rock and Filler Center for Rockefeller Center and Onion Square for Union Square), and the East River suffers from a clogged drain. Uli mingles with a wide array of desperate characters while trying to uncover his identity and determine what, if anything, he should be fighting for. Nersesian's novel is exceptionally bleak and bewildering, and his fans would expect nothing less.

Up until now, Arthur Nersesian's six novels (including The Fuck-Up, MTV/Pocket Books, which has sold over 100,000 copies) have focused on the tragicomedy of fin de sicle New York City. Now, in his boldest novel yet, he has broken through into a new landscape that at once fuses the real with the surreal, the psychological with the psychedelic. Actual characters from the 1960s and 1970s---Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Daniel Ellsberg, and the Berrigan Brothers---are but a few of the folks who populate this alternate version of American history.

The Swing Voter of Staten Island takes place over the course of a week in November 1981. Uli, suffering from amnesia, finds himself on a mission, but isn't quite sure what it is, who sent him, or even who he is. He ventures across the perilous wilds of New York City, through abandoned neighborhoods and burned-out battlefields. But Uli soon awakens to the awful fact that this isn't New York City at all. He is a key player in a strange, alternate history of both his city and country.

Uli has found himself trapped in New York, Nevada, isolated in the center of an impenetrable desert---where the US military was able to transform one of its "military situation cities" into a temporary refuge center, designed to resemble New York. While battling to make sense of his surroundings, Uli slowly remembers who he is and his own culpability in creating the current situation.

Arthur Nersesian is the author of six novels, including the smash hit The Fuck-Up (MTV/Pocket Books), Chinese Takeout (HarperCollins), Manhattan Loverboy (Akashic Books), Suicide Casanova (Akashic Books), and dogrun (MTV/Pocket Books). He lives in New York City.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   280
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.7" Width: 5.6" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2007
Publisher   Akashic Books
ISBN  1933354348  
ISBN13  9781933354347  

Availability  0 units.

More About Arthur Nersesian

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Arthur Nersesian's other novels include The Fuck-Up, Manhattan Loverboy, Dogrun, and Suicide Casanova. He has also written three books of poems and one book of plays. Nersesian was the managing editor of the literary magazine "The Portable Lower East Side" and was an English teacher at Hostos Community College (C.U.N.Y.) in the South Bronx. He was born and raised in New York City.

Arthur Nersesian currently resides in New York City, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Bargain Books > Children > Science, Nature & How It Works
2Books > Bargain Books > Literature & Fiction > Fiction
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
5Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Alternate History

Reviews - What do customers think about The Swing Voter of Staten Island (Akashic Urban Surreal Series)?

weird plots in a fake NYC  Jul 11, 2008
At the beginning of the book, the main character Uli is in what appears to be New York City. He has lost his memory and been programmed to assassinate someone. Things go awry and he gets sidetracked from the assassination - for one thing, this isn't New York, but a replica built in the Nevada Desert - and involved in a whole different plot to influence the U. S. election. The two political parties of fake NYC, the Piggers and Crappers, correspond to the interests of Democrats and Republicans but not in the way you might think. The fifth borough, Staten Island, a sludge-ridden home to pig farms and anarchists, may be the tie-breaker. Uli has a lot of unpleasant adventures in this world and not everything is resolved.

I've never read this author before, but this sounded so weird, I had to pick it up. I was entertained by this book but couldn't decide if it really worked or not. If there's a sequel, I will have to go back and find out what happens.
Great New Novel from Nersesian  Jan 6, 2008
I've read most of his novels, and really loved them when I used to live in NYC. I just found this one on a recent trip to Powell's Books in Portland and read it in 2 days. Its really different from his other books, but also really damn good. If you like reading about New York, Politics, and alternate realities than this will really do it for you.
it was good & different  Dec 8, 2007
I just burned through Nersesian's new novel, The Swing Voter of Staten Island. Initially, I was a little disoriented because this isn't what we're used to from him and I really enjoyed The F*ck Up and Suicide Casanova. Once I got started, I realized that the core elements of his writing are still there; humor, intelligence, quirk, NYC, a little smut and a little violence but everything is trippy and surreal. He's obviously going in a totally new direction.

Swing Voter follows a man named Uli who finds himself in a strange, jumbled, fun-house mirror of New York, which turns out to be a "Rescue City." In the novel, New York prime was hit by terrorist bombs in 1970, ten years earlier. The set up is believable when you look at it as a combination of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Remember when disaster struck then the Federal government threw everyone into the Astrodome and Barbara Bush made announcements about what an improvement it was. It's essentially the same thing except the Astrodome is the size of a city and no one ever gets to leave.

The city is split into two gangs, The Piggers and The Crappers who fight for control but they're also legitimate political parties and because the little city is still attached to the U.S. government by a thread they get one tiny vote in the presidential election. The presidential election is so close that the one vote can make all the difference.

Swing Voter reads like Jeff Noon's The Vurt with a touch of Cormac McCarthy. Sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, always imaginative, Nersesian creates a world where even if you're a native New Yorker you happily become a tourist in Bizarro-New York.

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