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.
“Reading Eastbound into the Cosmos conjures that feeling so many of us have in the Trump era: How did we get to this point and when exactly did everyone around me go certifiably insane?”
“Thomas Burke’s splendid new novel is at once a darkly comic international caper and a remarkable investigation of grief and spiritual longing.… Do yourself a favor and dive in.”
“Full of energy, intelligent, fast-paced, darkly humorous and poignant in the vein of a cross of sorts between David Sedaris and the late great Soviet/Russian/Abkhazian writer Fazil Iskander.”
“Eastbound into the Cosmos is a big-hearted and funny novel about youthful folly, youthful grief, and the intricacies of an international mushroom smuggling business, among many other intriguing things. Thomas Burke has fashioned a winning narrator in Everett: witty, self-deprecating, honest, and always searching the darkness for human wisdom. And you never know where you’ll find it.”
Eastbound into the Cosmos
by Thomas Burke
$21.95, paperback, 316 pp.