Bloomland by John Englehardt
From Dzanc Books:
WINNER OF THE 2018 DZANC PRIZE FOR FICTION
Bloomland opens during finals week at a fictional southern university, when a student walks into the library with his roommate’s semi-automatic rifle and opens fire. When he stops shooting, twelve people are dead.
In this richly textured debut, John Englehardt explores how the origin and aftermath of the shooting impacts the lives of three characters: a disillusioned student, a grieving professor, and a young man whose valuation of fear and disconnection funnels him into the role of the aggressor. As the community wrestles with the fallout, Bloomland interrogates social and cultural dysfunction in a nation where mass violence has become all too familiar.
Profound and deeply nuanced, Bloomland is a dazzling debut that walks in step with We Need to Talk About Kevin and the novels of Denis Johnson, Rachel Kushner, and Tom McAllister.
PRAISE FOR BLOOMLAND
“This book is truly remarkable. The story of gun violence on a university campus and its aftermath as told from the perspective of a student, the shooter and a teacher. I could not put this book down. With some of the most breathtaking passages about love and loss that I have ever read, I will be thinking of Bloomland for a very long time.” -Hillary Smith, Copperfield’s Calistoga, Calistoga, CA
“In our current place in American history, this story brings into focus the people caught up in the drama of a mass shooting--at a time when it has become such a part of the fabric of our culture that we don't even blink when we hear, once again, that such an outrage has taken place. Bloomland starts at the beginning, following the characters from their early days to the point of the shooting and then into the aftermath. Beautifully written and compelling, this is sadly, a story for our age.” -Jessica Osborne, E. Shaver, Bookseller, Savannah, GA
“Englehardt's stunning debut is not for the faint of heart; within the first few pages, a shooting occurs in the library of a fictional southern college. But the story is less about this horrific event than it is about the period leading up to it, and what happens to three different people--a student, a professor, and the shooter himself--in the aftermath. In prose that is vivid, specific, and wildly original, Englehardt shows how grief, disillusionment and--in some cases--resilience take his characters' lives in surprising directions. This is SO good.” -Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL
"In beautifully wrought prose, John Englehardt paints a searing portrait of violence and its aftermath, a haunting reckoning with death that shimmers and pulses with life." -Emily Geminder, author of Dead Girls and Other Stories
"Englehardt’s unflinching look at gun violence points to the many forms of social and cultural dysfunction that condition mass shootings and our inadequate responses to them. By presenting multiple perspectives, Englehardt boldly encourages readers to recognize the humanity of both victims and perpetrators. Bloomland ultimately offers a profound meditation on individual and collective grief and an arresting portrait of a society that refuses to countenance the complex causes and devastating human toll of gun violence." -Alice Hatcher, author of The Wonder That Was Ours
"Openhearted yet cold-eyed, alive with carnage and deep caring, Bloomland treats its central tragedy, a mass shooting, in a way that reveals its entire ragged, bleeding scope. John Englehardt couldn’t be more subtle, even playful, as he probes both before and after, both Ground Zero and the surrounding ruin. At the same time, he couldn’t raise a more resonant wail of warning, as the mourners multiply till we too feel separated from the horror by only a few frail degrees. A handful of brave novels have tried to count the toll taken by such slaughters, but none match Bloomland for portraying the monster of mass violence as so irredeemably American." -John Domini, author of Movieola!
"A quiet, deeply moving book about trauma and its aftereffects. The characters - an aimless kid who opens fire in a university library, the instructor he murders, her husband, and the talented girlfriend of one of the victims - are all survivors of previous tragedies. Their stories are narrated by a young English professor who was involved with each of them, and his voice, disembodied, probing, sad, and oddly complicitous, gives the book an eerie, haunting strength. I read BLOOMLAND in one sitting and have been thinking about it ever since." -Molly Giles, author of All the Wrong Places
"Bloomland is a moving, dark and beautiful journey inside a tragic school shooting and the rippling effects it has on three people...Bloomland is heavy....so heavy. It stays with you for a while after reading the last sentence. Itís dark and gripping and doesnít make you feel good but you want to keep turning the pages because you’re invested and captivated by Rose, Eddie and yes, even Eli. I couldn't put it down." -The Reading Conspiracy
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JOHN ENGLEHARDT’s work has appeared in Vol.1 Brooklyn, Sycamore Review, The Stranger, Seattle Review of Books, Conium Review, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas, and currently teaches writing classes at Hugo House in Seattle.