The Book Cellar
Please join us in welcoming local author Thomas Burke as he reads from and discusses his debut novel, Eastbound into the Cosmos!
About Eastbound into the Cosmos:
American culture is strange, and it appears even stranger after a hiatus. Cue Everett, back in Chicagoland after living in China. His head is spinning. His father has just died, plus, basic reentry to the life he once knew is increasingly taxing and complicated. On top of that, it seems that while he was abroad, everyone Everett cared about dove off the deep end into some particular madness. Exhibit A: Everett’s mom, recently widowed and with a newfound faith in healing crystals and a pony-tailed guru. Exhibit B: former roommate Dino and his new ascetic lifestyle—no more tasty food, ditto with sexy thoughts and the rest of life’s pleasures. Increasingly driftless and desperate, Everett signs onto an unconventional business venture that lands him at the center of the high-stakes world of mushroom smuggling.
Everett observes many strange desires in the world, as well as the lengths people are willing to go to meet those needs. Do the ends justify the means? What even are the ends? Eastbound into the Cosmos is the story of Everett’s attempt to process it all—the longing, the grief, the weirdness. Along the way he discovers the weird in himself, too, which may just be the thing that ultimately frees him.
About Thomas Burke:
Thomas Burke received a BA from Union College and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Eastbound into the Cosmos is his first novel. He has contributed work to Tin House, The Rumpus, Playboy, Hobart Pulp and St. Petersburg Review, among other places. He has taught at UMass Amherst, the Newberry Library, and Northwestern University, where he is currently assistant director of the Kaplan Humanities Institute. Formerly Burke helped direct the Summer Literary Seminars in Russia and co-founded its sister program in Kenya. He is the recipient of the Eugene Yudis Prize for fiction, a fellowship from the UMass Amherst MFA Program, and a residency at Art Omi’s Ledig House, among other honors. He lives in Evanston, IL with his wife and two children.