Jeffrey DeShell has published five novels: Arthouse (FC2), The Trouble with Being Born (FC2), Peter: An (A)Historical Romance (Starcherone), S & M (FC2) and In Heaven Everything is Fine (FC2), and a critical book, The Peculiarity of Literature: An Allegorical Approach to Poe’s Fiction. DeShell was a Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Budapest, and has taught in Northern Cyprus, the American Midwest and Bard College. He lives in Boulder with the novelist Elisabeth Sheffield and their two children.
Arthouse is an audacious transformation in prose of fourteen modernist films. From film to film, Jeffrey DeShell follows a forty-something failed film studies academic—The Professor. While The Professor is reinvented with each new chapter (or film), what remains is DeShell’s inventive deconstruction and representation of modern cinema. At times borrowing imagery, plot, or character elements, and at times rendering lighting, rhythm, costuming, or shot sequences into fictional language, The Professor’s journey sends him from the Southwestern town of Pueblo, Colorado, into the role of rescuer as he aids an attempted-rape victim, and finally to Italy. Ultimately though, The Professor is left alone, struggling to reconcile the real world with his life in cinema.
Novel, memoir, and anti-memoir, The Trouble with Being Born depicts the lives of Frances and Joe, husband and wife. Told in their own alternating voices, they recall their lives, separately and together, and the divergent trajectories of their origins and aspirations. The Trouble with Being Born is a stark meditation on memory and the struggle—both necessary and impossible—to remember.
An orphaned child of privilege, Peter enjoys a snug L.A. existence full of things—to eat, to wear, and to play with. But his world is rocked when he meets a young Palestinian woman, Reham, who claims to be Peter’s half-sister. DeShell’s excessive, digressive opera of objects follows these two to Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Gaza City, teetering on the razor’s edge between obsession and rejection, fascination and disgust.
An elegant exploration of language, passion, imagination, and betrayal, Jeffrey DeShell’s second novel is a nocturnal meditation on sexual politics and sexual exigency. Full of lyricism and wit,S&M relentlessly questions the roles language and imagination play in the construction of sexual and emotional desire.
S&M presents characters driven by the lustful pursuit of any loving other who might turn out to be a more flattering image of themselves. Through them, we suffer knowledge of our own shallowness, which is at once comical and devastating. Despite its own deceptively shiny surface, this is a book with death and resonance, with something important to say about the possibilities of becoming a self that you can live with and let live.