The Archive of Alternate Endings
Description"Captivating...Drager's plot is ambitious and emotionally resonant, making for a clever, beguiling novel." --Publishers Weekly starred review
Tracking the evolution of Hansel and Gretel at seventy-five-year intervals that correspond with earth's visits by Halley's Comet, The Archive of Alternate Endings explores how stories are disseminated and shared, edited and censored, voiced and left untold.
In 1456, Johannes Gutenberg's sister uses the tale as a surrogate for sharing a family secret only her brother believes. In 1835, The Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm revise the tale to bury a truth about Jacob even he can't come to face. In 1986, a folklore scholar and her brother come to find the record is wrong about the figurative witch in the woods, while in 2211, twin space probes aiming to find earth's sister planet disseminate the narrative in binary code. Breadcrumbing back in time from 2365 to 1378, siblings reimagine, reinvent, and recycle the narrative of Hansel and Gretel to articulate personal, regional, and ultimately cosmic experiences of tragedy.
Through a relay of speculative pieces that oscillate between eco-fiction and psychological horror, The Archive of Alternate Endings explores sibling love in the face of trauma over the course of a millennium, in the vein of Richard McGuire's Here and Lars von Trier's Melancholia.
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About the Author
--Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books "THE LOST DAUGHTER COLLECTIVE is not subtly brilliant. Its brilliance washes over you in waves, again and again, immersing you in the text and giving you an experience of constant awe... Drager continues to be a force and should be recognized widely for her work."
--The Rumpus "THE LOST DAUGHTER COLLECTIVE delivers an intelligent and densely layered story [...] a fleet and eerie novel, like the last strand of dream before waking."
--Kirkus Reviews "Lindsey Drager's THE LOST DAUGHTER COLLECTIVE is, among other things, a stately and meticulous catalogue of grief. It's not so much a narrative as an accumulation of immaculate sentences and paragraphs that grow into a garment, a body, an emersion. But most of all, it's an adventure of the in-between, my favorite place in the whole world."
--Jim Krusoe, author of The Sleep Garden "THE LOST DAUGHTER COLLECTIVE is a breathtaking book, an examination of loss in all of its heartbreaking forms and the stories that keep that loss alive. Drager's writing, the crystalline beauty of her sentences, renders these stories that much more wondrous. It's hard to accurately pinpoint just how she makes this novel encompass both comfort and pain in such equal measures, but I am grateful for its magic."
--Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang "Lindsey Drager boldly reinvents fairytales and evokes dystopic futures. THE LOST DAUGHTER COLLECTIVE casts a bizarre and exquisite spell."
--Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat and Some Possible Solutions "A catalogue of paternal neglect reminiscent of macabre German cautionary tales like Max und Moritz and Der Struwwelpeter."
-Quarterly West "The gorgeous language and urgent, controlled voice spark a complicated and cerebral narrative that contains more layers with each re-reading. ... Whether by paring a lengthy strophe down into a meaningful futuristic phrase or by finding mondegreens, Drager shows the deeper meanings not only of myths, but of words themselves. ... THE LOST DAUGHTER COLLECTIVE serves as an excellent addition to the canon of modern fairy tales."
-Black Warrior Review
"A philosophical book ... beautiful in its conception." --Kirkus Reviews "Unapologetically Borgesian, at once a library of Babel and a garden of forking paths, but its ideas hold meaning because real people live and die by them, caught up in spirals of shame and compassion, always on the verge of--but never quite tipping over into--understanding."
--Arkansas International "[A] taut, deeply philosophical retelling...This is a profoundly resonating book that will feel both dense and light."
--Historical Novel Society "Although relatively slim, Drager's novel is a vast and convoluted treasure trove. She does a fine job of illuminating the darker concepts and human relationships with her rich, confident, and sometimes startling writing. Reading The Archive of Alternate Endings is an enriching literary experience the reader will remember hauntingly ever after."
--Philly.com "A leaner, tighter, more emotionally impactful take on connectedness and purpose and the immensity of existence than David Mitchell created with Cloud Atlas--done in a quarter of the pages, with a more sincere, human touch. There isn't a grand conspiracy or plot here. This is a book about life. The result is a bold novel that challenges the idea of storytelling, time, identity, love, family, and history. Someone once told me that the best books haven't been written yet. This one has."
--Barrelhouse "There is something both nihilistic and deeply hopeful in Drager's looping novel. Nihilistic, because in so many ways it indicates that as parts of a continuum of human storytelling, life, love, and hate, none of us matter; but hopeful because that continuum means our stories are related, our narratives interlocking, and so while we may be insignificant, we are also never alone."
--NPR "Drager has developed somewhat of a cult following her previous books...and for good reason--her writing is hypnotic. ... With themes of sibling love, queerness, time and space, and the earthly, this is an engrossing and poetic read."
--Brooklyn Rail "A poetic investigation of queerness and a philosophical meditation on the mercurial nature of stories...Weaving together fairytale archetypes, astronomical phenomena and queer history, The Archive of Alternate Endings is a uniquely rewarding balance between literary experimentation and human emotion, whilst remaining a riddling sphinx of a book."
--The Quietus "The Archive of Alternate Endings will lead you into uncanny forests both primordial and new, where storytellers forage and banished children roam. Cosmically expansive and poignantly intimate, Lindsey Drager's queer retellings tap into the magic and menace of ancient tales--a dazzling, moving, brilliant book."
--Julia Elliott, author of The Wilds and The New and Improved Romie Futch "A system that includes labyrinths and dark forests as well as siblings, light, and houses made of ginger bread. ... What a pleasure it is to enter the safe harbor of Drager's novel."
--New York Journal of Books "This beautiful, haunting and innovative novel traces the way stories live inside us and travel over generations. It's a book that asks essential questions: What makes us human? What might our species leave behind when it's gone? A stunning tour-de-force that will linger with me for a long time."
--Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will "I could make comparisons--to David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas or Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger--but I've never read anything quite like Lindsey Drager's The Archive of Alternate Endings. Yes, it's a remarkable, heart-stunning novel, but it's also a delightfully original collection of stories that reaches across the centuries to ultimately shape a narrative of love and tragedy. Behold and beware, there's magic in your hands, and the chapters that await you are as thick with gothic shadows and fairy tale whimsy as the Black Forest of Germany."
--Benjamin Percy, author of The Dark Net and Red Moon "Lindsey Drager's novel-in-stories, The Archive of Alternate Endings, spans the history (and future) of the western world, all while showing what is, in fact, the short timeline of humanity. Storytelling. Fables. Legends. Mythologies. Drager's world is one that spins variations of itself across time. And yet through the stories in this collection we find that what does remain constant across this cyclical continuum is love, devotion, and commitment. Concise and beautifully written in an understated yet rich manner, Lindsey Drager not only has given us a book of ideas, but, equally important, she has given us a work of art."
--Adam Braver, author of November 22, 1963 and What the Women Do