The Epiphany Machine

David Burr Gerrard

FROM THE BOOK JACKET: Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too.

Thats the slogan. The product: a junky contraption that tattoos personalized revelations on its users forearms. Its an old con, playing on the fear that we are obvious to everybody except ourselves. This particular ad has been circulating New York since the 1960s and it works. But, oddly enough, so might the device...

A small stream of city dwellers buy into this cult of the epiphany machine, including Venter Lowoods parents. This stigma follows them when they move upstate, where Venter cant avoid the whispers of teachers and neighbors any more than he can ignore the machines accurate predictions: his mothers abandonment and his fathers disinterest. So when Venters grandmother finally asks him to confront the epiphany machine and inoculate himself against his familys mistakes, hes only too happy to oblige.

Like his parents before him, Venter is quick to fall under the spell of the devices sweat-stained, profane, and surprisingly charming operator, Adam Lyons. But unlike them, Venter gets close enough to Adam to learn a dark secret. Theres an undeniable pattern between specific epiphanies and violent crimes. And Adam wont jeopardize the privacy of his customers by alerting the police.

It may be a hoax, but that doesnt mean what Adam is selling isnt also spot-on. And in this sprawling, snarling tragicomedy about accountability in contemporary America, the greater danger is that Adam Lyons apparatus may just be right about us all.

Related imageAUTHOR INFO: David Burr Gerrard received an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. His first novel, Short Century, was published by Rare Bird Books, and his work has appeared in The Awl, The LA Review of Books, BOMB, Guernica, and other publications. He teaches fiction writing at Manhattanville College, the 92nd Street Y, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop.

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