Photo of Austin by jareha used under a Creative Commons license.
James Hynes, Kings of Infinite Space (St. Martin’s Press, 2004).
As Paul Trilby goes through the motions of an unfulfilling job as a temporary tech writer in the fluorescent, soulless offices of the Texas Department of General Services, he starts to think that something peculiar is going on there. Since Trilby thinks his apartment is haunted by Charlotte, the ghost of his ex-wife’s drowned cat, you might start to question his sanity, except that the corpse in the cubicle does seem to be a tip-off that something is a little off, and Charlotte won’t let him watch anything on TV unless cats are involved. Things are looking up when Trilby strikes up something of a romance with Callie, the mail girl, but then it starts to look like getting ahead at work will require some inhuman efforts. Set in the fictional city of Lamar, which seems an awful lot like Austin, where Hynes has lived for more than a decade. There are elements of satire and science fiction here, but this book does not want to be categorized. Hynes calls it Cubicle Gothic.
Here is Google Book Search, with an excerpt and more. NPR has an excerpt and NPR’s Nancy Pearl calls it a book not to miss (scroll down). Bookslut’s Michael Schaub interviewed Hynes in Austin during the last episode of Friends. Hynes writes about the genesis of the book in Boston Review. Here are reviews from Nancy Pearl (again, this time in the Seattle Times), Sarah Rachel Egelman, Jonathan Yardley, Donna Minkowitz (The New York Times), Tina, John James (The High Hat), Emily, Becky, Jeremy Dibbell, and Dave Hardy. Texan Maud Newton says it’s Austin reading. She’s also focused on Charlotte. Here are Hynes’s top four books of 2007. You can check out Hynes’ blog.