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New faculty member's novel is next for ASU book group

cover of the book "In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods"
April 01, 2015

The ASU Book Group will meet from noon to 1 p.m., April 29, to discuss “In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods,” by new English faculty member Matt Bell. The meeting will take place in room 316 of the Durham Language and Literature Building on the Tempe campus. Bell will be present at the meeting.

In Bell’s mythical debut novel, a newlywed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore, where they plan to live simply, fish the lake and trap in the nearby woods.

The build a house, and then begin trying to raise a family. But as every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: “the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife’s beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.”

The novel explores the limits of parenthood and marriage – and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.

Bell studied at Bowling Green State University and has taught at Northern Michigan University and served as the senior editor at Dzanc Books and was the founding editor of The Collagist, a monthly online literary magazine.

His short fiction has also appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Conjunctions, ASU’s Hayden's Ferry Review, Gulf Coast, Guernica (magazine), Willow Springs, Unsaid and American Short Fiction. His stories have been anthologized in The Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Fantasy and 30 Under 30: an Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Writers.

The ASU Book Group, sponsored by the Department of English, is open to all ASU faculty, staff and students, and the community. There is no membership fee. For more information, contact Judith Smith at