A family of outsider artists roams the American interior in search of the New Jerusalem in David Leo Rice’s new dream novel, loosely inspired by the hermetic worlds of Joseph Cornell. As Tobias Carroll writes, “The childhood of Jakob, The New House’s young hero, is one unlike that of your typical coming-of-age narrative. His is a youth surrounded by prophetic dreams, religious schisms, and secretive conversations — plus some shocking scenes of violence. Rice’s prose creates a mood abounding with mystery and dread, and The New House would fit comfortably beside the likes of Michael McDowell’s Toplin and Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory in terms of disquieting portraits of sustained alienation.”
Filled with pious, mechanical rage and ecstasy, David Leo Rice has created a catastrophe, a religion of some sort. Fishy as it may seem, Jakob (his zealous protagonist) blows our minds and charges our electric socket with his hysterical, esoteric coming of age. Severely disciplined by martinet parents, Jakob becomes a Trader Joe’s frenzied witness of some sort. Rice has created a world like none other. An ophidian world dressed and fashioned for more devastation than revelation, more mother than meadow, more irresistible than blasphemous.
– Vi Khi Nao
The childhood of Jakob, The New House's young hero, is one unlike that of your typical coming-of-age narrative. His is a youth surrounded by prophetic dreams, religious schisms, and secretive conversations — plus some shocking scenes of violence. Rice's prose creates a mood abounding with mystery and dread, and The New House would fit comfortably beside the likes of Michael McDowell's Toplin and Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory in terms of disquieting portraits of sustained alienation.
– Tobias Carroll, author of Reel and Political Sign
David Leo Rice achieves a superb naturalism in recounting the experiences of young Jacob, contraposed to the world of the book, where natural laws do not interfere. There is a profound freedom in the depiction of how material objects with extension interact with material objects with extension—that space can be filled twice. A non-metaphorical depiction of contradiction (that inside things there might be other things) undergirds a portrayal of the artist informed by an ambient mysticism but not of it. Rice’s stunning manipulation of identity over time allows the book to relate a coming-of-age story and an anticipatory retrospective of the life of the artist at once. The New House leaves the reader to reflect on whether there is anything holding an identity together, or whether whatever we are was burned in the woods long ago.
– Charlene Elsby
Twisted, disturbing, and completely bizarro to the point of hallucinogenic. Rice is the master of fantastical Lynchian body horror and the surreally wacky—and if you read this book, he’ll also be the master of your nightmares. An absolute must for fans of the weird and unexpected.
– Leah Angstman, author of Out Front the Following Sea
The New House is magic. It's a book so infused with dreams that it seems to be dreaming us into being—you and me and the families that form us, the towns that try us, the shadows that want to wake us or take us away for good.
I don't remember a book that captured dreaming so perfectly, or at least captured my dreams: the streets I repeatedly step down, the edges of town that scare the shit out of me, the sweetness that always seems to dissipate while I'm savouring it.... Sweet dreams, sweetheart!
– Derek McCormack
Like a Jewish magical realist bildungsroman, The New House is a darkly compelling exploration of sacrifice, love, the will to create, and the will to destroy. David Leo Rice finds the beating heart at the center of many interlinked questions and he opens it like a surgeon