It’s summer in a small, Midwestern city, and babies are burning to death in their cribs under odd circumstances. A number of theories are presented by the six narrators of the novel, but the truth of just what is going on is elusive, and it is up to the reader to discover the truth, since one of the underlying issues of the novel is the difference between knowing and believing.
“Report from a Place of Burning is utterly original, but it is also the work of a master of the traditions of storytelling. In language that is exquisite but also precise, George Looney unspools a host of secrets that culminate in a haunting and moving whole. With such vivid and earthly, but also dreamlike, imagery, he invites the reader to experience these accumulating revelations, casting a spell as much as offering a tale. But as lyrical as it is, make no mistake: this is a real story, one you won’t mistake for an experiment. Even as you’ll want to linger over the sentences, so musical and striking, and consider the brilliance of this careful and unusual construction of a novel, you’ll want to turn the page, breathless for what’s next. This is that rare, wonderful sort of fiction that casts a spell, fills the reader with admiration for the writer’s talent, but entertains you, too.” —Laura Kasischke, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
“Looney’s novel introduces Rainier Maria Rilke to Sherwood Anderson, escorts them into our 21st century, and invites them to sing. And sing they do. A gyre of desire and devastation, vision and transfiguration, Report from a Place of Burning dazzles.” —Ann Pancake, author of Strange as This Weather Has Been
Gorgeous. Haunting. Unforgettable. Like every real mystery, Report from a Place of Burning lives on, creating questions and leaving one hungry for answers. Looney’s novel smolders with captivating voices, shocking possibilities, and private histories of characters whose heartache, loss, and love are seared behind my eyes.”—Aimee Parkison, author of Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman
“A fabulous mix of the arcane and ordinary. A familiar Rust Belt setting—a defunct Heinz factory with the acrid smell of vinegar lingering in the air—gives the story a desperation and Philip Dick-ish, dangerous, dystopian feel… the perfect surreal setting for this bleak (although at times, quite humorous) narrative and concoction of strange events… In a profound way [the novel] speaks, metaphorically, to “the times.” Amidst all the preoccupation with apocalyptic/Armageddon books/television/movies, the sense of impending doom in every facet of the news, and the rough beast that has slouched his way into the White House, here’s a nod to something that passeth all understanding, with a Julian of Norwich ending of radical optimism, in spite of grim, horrific events.” —Sara Pritchard