"Miles Klee demonstrates a delightfully prehensile grasp of the more oblique peculiarities of sentience. Very highly recommended." —William Gibson
"Miles Klee is a fresh genius of the American literary sentence, and his every paragraph is aburst with nervous, agitative exactitudes. So much gets itself zanily and definitively rendered in the crackle of his ultravivid prose that True False is not just a joltingly original collection but the essential record of the inner terrors of our hyperurban era." —Gary Lutz
"Miles Klee is a male Lydia Davis on a cyberpunk acid trip." —EntropyTweet
Print + E-book: $24/£16
Klee’s last book, his first, was variously hailed as “sharply intelligent” (Publishers Weekly) and “harsh, spastic” (Justin Taylor): we like to think of True False as intelligently spastic, or sharply harsh—disquieting and funny. A collection of stories that range from the very short to the merely short, these forty-four tales evoke extraordinary scenes in an understated manner that’s marked Klee one of today’s most intriguing writers. From the apocalyptic to the utopic, from a haunted office building to a suburban pool that may be alive, a day in the mind of a demi-god Pythagoras to a secret race to develop artificial love, True False captures a fractured reality more real than our own.
Publication September 10, 2015 • 264 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-98-5 • E-book 978-1-939293-99-2
Miles Klee was born in Brooklyn. He studied at Williams College under writers Jim Shepard, Andrea Barrett and Paul Park, and now lives in Manhattan. His debut novel, Ivyland (OR Books 2012), drew glowing reviews and was likened to “J.G. Ballard zapped with a thousand volts of electricity” by the Wall Street Journal, later becoming a finalist in the 2013 Tournament of Books. Klee is an editor at the web culture site the Daily Dot; his essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, The Awl, The New York Observer, The Millions, The Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail, Flavorwire and elsewhere.
Omen, Not Very Good
Red celebrates return to consciousness by throttling doctor stooped over bed, whose pince-nez slips off to politely explode on white tile. For man shot in head and forced to land in Belgium, Red seems less the worse for wear as Schweinfeder and I struggle to break his grip. “That dog!” comes husk of voice, brutal vessels blooming in face. “Dog was toying with me!” At once he swoons, resumes glass coma. Doctor sucks air, clutches autograph book to chest, one finger placeholding still-blank page. “Same sweet baboon,” Schweinfeder snorts.
Nemeses Come and Go
Red is distant unaccountable asshole, yet it’s other people I’m expected to kill. Schweinfeder (secret Jew) is his other perpetual wingman; together we listen as Red dictates autobiography to bored propagandist. “Hawker, there was a worthy duel,” Red expounds, twisting blue hospital blanket. “But nemeses come and go.” Pantomime of kill. “New adversaries on the horizon?” doodling ghostwriter asks. “That cheeky beagle who took me down,” Red mutters. Would make the man see psychiatrist, were there one in the world worth five cents.
I Got a Rock
He wants to fly; Luftstreitkräfte stalls. Germany’s morale can’t sustain loss of ace, not with sixty confirmed kills and twice as many myths to his name. Too late: under gauze-wrapped skull, all’s gone awry. Nurses, one brawny, one bespectacled, latter addressing former as Herr, summon me and Schweinfeder when Red disappears. Discover him in hangar: drunk on morphine, drooling over moonlit triplane, filling with siphoned fuel. Mutters as we drag him back that we sound like muted brass played by fumbling amateurs. “Want to shut him up?” Schweinfeder whispers. “I got a rock.” Valkyries track us in smoked October nights, eager to whisk Red to Valhalla. Propeller thrums in clotted black above. We tramp across the great pumpkin patch, sparing few.
Dead Letter Office
Grounding pilots insufficient: we come untethered, float off regardless. Schweinfeder stops bathing—nearly visible aura of dirt hangs about him. Red puts mailbox at foot of bed, is daily crestfallen to find it empty. I stuff with undeliverable mail, courtesy of postmaster friend. “Must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters,” Red muses over ransacked pile. “I could be their leader.” “Blockhead,” Schweinfeder scoffs, “you are a leader.” Red’s epiphany hits so hard that for a moment I fear it’ll knock his clothes off.
Rittmeister Richthofen, captain’s hat concealing scar, trench coat lapping ankles, gives pep talk worthy of unwinning sport coach. “Air combat principles passed down by Maestro Boelcke are useless,” he snarls. “Our new scourge defies them all.” Only now do Jasta pilots realize damage done. They’d forgive his nausea during practice flights, his brief loss of bearings, but sacrilege will sink him. “The machine is painted like a Sopwith Camel, but no propeller, synchronization equipment, or indeed gun, no wings of any description. Think a tiny airborne house.” Ripples of nervous laughter. “Funny!” Red shrieks. “The mongrel does not need sun behind him; he feints and dives with total cool. Hunts alone, a rogue, a madman. English skill, American hubris.” His eyes linger on pale redhead Adonis toward back. Obsessed stare unreturned.
Schweinfeder returns from mission, with wink tells Red he was right as rain: snooping around front alone—atop house-shaped box—was calico dog, red scarf snapping in icy wind, who executed tight Immelmann turns, loosed his tongue with helium cackles. But flea-bitten fellow’s sparring days are done, Schweinfeder gloats. Trails of bullet holes punched across wood; fiend went down cursing, delivered final brave salute. Later, in bar, our melancholy ringleader interrupts pianist. “No more Beethoven, the sentimental bastard.” So sarcastic blond plays American jazz, gets heads bobbing.
Vision of engaging the Beagle. Stacks his even teeth in towers, shakes into life the invisible gun. We set the sky ablaze, weave black zigzags across golden dusk. He climbs to a stall and plummets past, black ears trilling, face blank canvas, lifts goggles to reveal all-pupil eyes. Awake in pre-dawn, remember Red is his own worst foe. Yellow bird alights on windowsill, speaking spells. Outside, Red stares at toy plane—jammed just out of reach in skeletal tree.
Most seductive pilot error. Picture school chum stealing football as you approach goalkeeper—negated target, replaced by mere idea. Thought collapses to vanishing point, razor anti-focus, smooth dissolution of ego: shading into prey. Bearing down on nemesis, in thrall to convergence, you forget to fire. He peels off, but afterimage follows phantom rails, and you, dizzy with frosted sun, pursue. Red is dead. Homed in till mutt turned ghost and solid ground rose up to meet. Suppose imagination outwits always. Schweinfeder bewails attempt to slay fantasy, weeps openly, like child. “Take my handkerchief,” I say. “Good grief.”