Deus Ex Machina
A NovelPaperback - 2011
"As [Altschul] observes in his brilliant new novel . . . there's not much reality in reality television . . . One of the best novels about American culture in years." --NPR
On a distant island, reality show contestants battle for bragging rights and a slot on next week's episode. They've perfected their dramatic roles and are prepared to do whatever it takes to win. There's the take-no-prisoners Marine sergeant, the gay hairdresser, the ruthless lawyer, the brainy poet. But one player refuses to compete--Gloria Hamm, a sullen dental hygienist, voted least likely to win by the show's crew.
The higher-ups are desperate for ratings and sensational twists to trump the plots of seasons past. But the producer--haunted by personal tragedies all too real--is losing control of the show and its crew. While he obsesses about Gloria, the crew plots mutiny, a contestant dances with insanity, and disease threatens to halt the show completely. When real catastrophes strike, the producer finds it harder and harder to navigate his surreal landscape, where boundaries of the real, imagined,and orchestrated have blurred beyond recognition . . .
"An irreverently candid peek inside the entertainment industry . . . Altschul brilliantly blurs fact and fantasy, entertainment and voyeurism, forming a smartly funny and timely montage that challenges the meaning of celebrity." -- Booklist
"Searing, riveting, shockingly smart, and imbued on every page with a wicked sense of humor,Deus Ex Machina dissects the modern moment like nobody's business. Altschul fearlessly plunges into the heart of darkness--reality television--and finds the tragicomedy of our time there. Brave, bold, and moving work." --Stacey D'Erasmo, author ofWonderland