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The Blond Box, The Blond Box, 1573661104, 1-57366-110-4, 978-1-57366-110-2, 9781573661102,

The Blond Box
by Toby Olson

Quality Paper
2003. 220 pp.
Price:  $18.95 t

El Malabarista, pianist and juggler for a troupe of sexual performance artists, is found dead in the dusty wilderness, his fingers crushed. Beginning like a murder mystery, The Blond Box then defies all the usual expectations of a murder mystery plot, by juxtaposing "real" events in two different decades with a draft version of a hack sci-fi novella. This mixed narrative serves as a meta-fictional commentary on the efforts of a retired sex-theater artist, a hairstylist/pulp writer, a doctoral student, and a host of other characters to, not only solve the murder, but uncover its motivation, which seems to be linked to El Malabarista's knowledge of the whereabouts of a certain boxed treasure. By turns lyrical and scatological, puerile and cerebral, The Blond Box is at once a daring formal experiment and a good yarn.

Toby Olson, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel Seaview (New Directions, 1982), has published eight works of fiction. He lives with his wife, Miriam, in Philadelphia, where he recently retired from Temple University, and in North Truro on Cape Cod. Olson has most recently been collaborating with composer Paul Epstein on chamber operas. He has published fiction, essays, and reviews in more than 200 national magazines and newspapers. His essay on Marcel Duchamp appeared in FICTION INTERNATIONAL in 1999.

"The Blond Box, like all of Toby Olson's novels, proposes a world whose ordinary elements are gradually seen to be messengers of the uncanny and mysterious. By the subtlest of means, we are led to recognize the strangeness that informs both art and life. It is, in all respects, a wondrous book by a superb writer." --Gilbert Sorrentino, author of Splendide-Hotel

"Of all the writers of his postmod generation, Toby Olson is the most forgiving. Even when writing of the most mundane acts--performing in a backwoods porn show, for example, or inaugurating an outhouse--he grants all his characters the full wonder and mystery of their lives, and strokes language as a lover might the flesh of his beloved. The Blond Box, like the most memorable of his work, skirts borders--geographical, artistic, metaphysical--and explores the mysteries found there, especially the unfathomable mysteries of art. Toby Olson is one of America's most important novelists, and The Blond Box is perhaps his best book ever. A rich compelling read." --Robert Coover, author of The Adventures of Lucky Pierre

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