Involuntary Bliss

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49th Shelf Most Anticipated Fall 2016 Selection

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Even in death, he said, the novella’s power would bind us together, all of us who had read it, appealing as it did equally to our emotions and our intellects.

Situated in modern-day Montréal during a weekend in late August, Involuntary Bliss follows two young men who come together in an attempt to restore their friendship.

From the streets of Montréal’s Plateau to the mountainous hillsides of Machu Picchu and beyond, this high-spirited picaresque investigates themes of mortality, idealism, and transgressive art in a novel comprised of incidents by turns comic, erotic, tender, and harrowing.

In conceiving of this novel, Code took as influence such works as Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile and Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness. With its dark humour and elements of psychological compulsion, Involuntary Bliss also follows in the tradition of Franz Kafka, while its eroticism, narrative momentum and intimations of violence align well with the novels of Haruki Murakami.

Praise for Involuntary Bliss
“How does one create urgency and profound emotional attachment in a novel about two characters conversing as they wander around Montreal? By writing one beautiful, brilliant sentence after another. By constructing an essential, inimitable spiral of narrative encoded, like DNA, with a particular life. Devon Code is up to the job: Involuntary Bliss is a marvel.”
—Alissa York, author of The Naturalist, Effigy, and Fauna

Involuntary Bliss is the right kind of coming-of-age-as-an-artist novel in that it’s wry, dark, and mercifully self-aware. Even when he literally lets us admire his impressive scaffolding, Code remains a natural storyteller with a clear, urgent voice. This is a sophisticated and impressive debut.”
—Jonathan Bennett, author of The Colonial Hotel and Entitlement

“A wry elegy for youth and a melancholy ode to Montreal. Almost as disquieting as it is entertaining, Involuntary Bliss is a literary derangement of the senses and an elegant addition to the current stream of millennial fiction.”
—Mike Steeves, author of Giving Up

Reviews
“Code has written a novel not about belief systems, but about believers; not about the dots, but about those who would define themselves by the fervour of their efforts to connect them.”
—Andrew Forbes, Literary Review of Canada

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“[Code’s] greatest strengths are as a stylist, and it is gratifying to see an emerging writer so completely in control of his characterization of the world.”
—André Forget, Winnipeg Review

“Code provides wonderfully detailed, lyric descriptions. . . a pleasant backdrop for a complex book.”
—Sidney Drmay,  Broken Pencil

Interviews
Thoughts on reading in the WAR Interview Series from Open Book

Sustained Momentum and Dream Logic:  “In Conversation” with Malcolm Sutton

International Festival of Authors Ontario Five Questions