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The Ecstasy of Michaela

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Michaela is no saint. Living alone in a decaying rust-belt city at the end of the twentieth century, her life completely adrift, she grudgingly attends her estranged mother’s funeral. There she learns about the grisly murder of a local boy named Tony Zabelsky. She becomes obsessed with his story and begins haunting the places he frequented until she meets his former lover, Eliza May Bradford. Eliza has repudiated her wealthy family and now lives in a squatter’s commune with her and Tony’s child. Michaela embarks on an almost hallucinatory journey through the ruined city and through the memories of Eliza and others who knew Tony Zabelsky. Along the way, she learns who holds power in her city and how they treat those who do not. Such unforgettable knowledge compels her to action. A dark literary fiction in the tradition of J. M. Coetzee and Don DeLillo, The Ecstasy of Michaela is at once a philosophical dialogue on the meaning of evil, an image-rich portrait of a country in decay, a political protest against the ravages that avarice and cruelty have unleashed on America’s cities, and a poetic character study of a woman who must find the resources to resist, in any way she can, the world’s crushing forces.

88 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 8, 2012

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About the author

John Pistelli

6 books256 followers
John Pistelli is from Pittsburgh, PA, and now lives in Minneapolis, MN, where he teaches literature. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Minnesota. His short fiction, poetry, reviews, and essays have appeared in many journals, including Rain Taxi, The Millions, and Five 2 One. He is the author of The Quarantine of St. Sebastian House, Portraits and Ashes, and The Ecstasy of Michaela. Find out more here.

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Nick Chuchna.
7 reviews6 followers
November 13, 2020
John Pistelli sketches a dying rust belt city in a dusky charcoal haze tainted by deep red splatters of blood and wealth. It is a coming of age narrative. It is a meditation on late capitalism and the consequences of eschewing social expectations. It is an elegy to independent thought. What happens to a city when the thing that defines it – the industry that built it – is no longer there? What happens to a person when the ideals, the values, the ethics that guide them are offered up in exchange for a comfortable home, a big screen tv, a mobile phone? Pistelli’s prose is at once beautiful and haunting. His dark, satirical humor punctures the soul and leaves in its wake an internal abscess filled with deep skepticism toward human rectitude, spotted with heartfelt appreciation for those brave enough to challenge decorum.
9 reviews2 followers
February 18, 2013
A headless corpse, a murder mystery, a dystopian look at a decaying rustbelt city and a rumination on religion and post-modern society in one compact package. Kudos to Pistelli. Write more.
Profile Image for Albert Davenport.
Author 2 books5 followers
February 16, 2013

Pistelli's dystopic post-industrial novella creates an almost suffocating environment for its characters while at the same time making the reader skeptical of all viewpoints expressed. In short, a brilliant use of several unreliable narrators to simultaneously tell us a story of anomie, death and redemption, of sorts.

Pistelli's beautiful language moves the readers through Michaela's world seamlessly while evoking her role as confessor to the books other characters. I look forward to more work from this author.

This book is available for Kindle, nook, and kobo readers.

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews

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