A darkly surreal yet absurdly funny short-fiction writer, Matt Rowan has been a Chicago local secret for years; but now this latest collection of pieces, all of which originally appeared in the pages of the CCLaP Weekender in 2014 and '15, is set to garner him the national recognition his stories deserve, a Millennial George Saunders who is one of the most popular authors in the city's notorious late-night literary performance community. Shocking? Thought-provoking? Strangely humorous? Uncomfortable yet insightful on a regular basis? YES PLEASE.
"Big Venerable reads like a collection of modern fables, peppered with workplace anxiety, mutating families, absurd quests, and faulty sages delivering self-centered advice. A very funny book from a very funny man." --Halle Butler, author of Jillian
"I love this book. The day-to-day reality of a burger joint is almost magical, while the future fantasy of a synthetic forest is so profoundly real we could hike there together tomorrow. Inside these wildly imaginative, near-cinematic stories, Rowan is asking big questions: What constitutes true change? And what part do we want to play in it? I'll go back to Big Venerable again and again. I can't get it out of my head." --Megan Stielstra, New York Times columnist and author of Once I Was Cool
"[Rowan's] name isn't mentioned alongside local luminaries like Samuel Park, Audrey Niffenegger, and Luis Alberto Urrea (yet). But it should be. ...Keep an eye on Matt Rowan. Any writer who messes with readers' heads this much requires continual attention." --Books and Whatnot
"What is so fun about reading Big Venerable is that you can see Rowan reaching for [that high mark between sincere and sentimental], and he manages to come pretty close. In his attempt, he creates wonder similar to Ben Loory or Amelia Gray. He manages elements of sci-fi and spec-lit similar to Mathew Derby or Ben Marcus. And at times, his comedic prose is like that of Sam Lipsyte or Gary Shteyngart. If you're a fan of any of these authors, I suggest picking up a copy of Big Venerable. I know, I'll be picking it up again and again." --Electric Lit
"[Rowan] lulls the reader into a reality so closely resembling our own that it is a jolt when a war breaks out in front of a superstore, or when people made from bread help run a bakery. He has the ability to make the reader become comfortable in these worlds, feeling prepared for anything. But Rowan likes to change gears, veering off into the unexpected. While some of the stories are more offbeat than others, Rowan's somber tone and style easily ties them all together, creating a cohesive and unified read. ...Big Venerable has finally brought national attention to Rowan, and for good reason. The overarching themes are important, but Rowan's fresh take and quirky style are why this book must be read." --Necessary Fiction
"Think of Big Venerable of a series of short intellectual puzzles about contemporary and universal issues crafted by Matt Rowan for you to solve. When I say they are puzzles, please don't feel intimidated. What I mean by that is that they are creative and elaborate allegories truffled with symbols that are easy and rather pleasant to decipher. If anything, Matt Rowan's stories are idealistic and ambitious in the best possible way: they have something to give. Big Venerable is not just straight entertainment. It has a unique perspective. A vision of our world to share." --Dead End Follies
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Editor: Behnam Riahi
Cover: Nick Francis Potter and Jon Mau
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