Columns > Published on April 14th, 2014

Bookshots: 'The Bend of the World' by Jacob Bacharach

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Bend of the World

Who wrote it?

'The Bend of the World' is a terrific read – funny, disturbing, endlessly entertaining.

Jacob Bacharach

Plot in a Box:

A young corporate cog sees spaceships hovering over Pittsburgh, which (it turns out – who knew?) sits atop a fracture in the time/space continuum.

Invent a new title for this book:

Hysteries of Pixburgh

Read this if you liked:

Any great new novel

Meet the book’s lead:

Peter Morrison, pushing 30, from an old monied family, whose gay best friend is white trash and brilliant.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

Edward Norton circa Fight Club

Setting: would you want to live there?

I already have; I grew up there. Didn’t know about the fractured time/space continuum, though. My youth would have made more sense.

What was your favorite sentence?

Libertarians are just liberals without student debt.

The Verdict:

The Bend of the World is a terrific read – funny, disturbing, endlessly entertaining. The author,  Jacob Bacharach, captures the wacky essence of Pittsburgh: the peculiarities of Pittsburghese, the local dialect (in which the city is rendered as “Pixburgh”); the warpedness of its residents; the weirdness and immateriality of corporate life; the unshakeable bond between seemingly mismatched friends.

The premise is absurd: space aliens are making frequent visitations to the Golden Triangle, aka the Point, the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. The extraterrestrial visitors, who are chronicled by Peter’s best friend, Johnny, on his brilliantly named – yinz is Pittsburghese for the plural form of you –  show up because the city has been built on a cosmic fault line. As Johnny puts it: “So basically the Point represents a node or a nexus of intense magical convergence, an axis mundi, if you will, wherein vast telluric currents and pranic energies roil just beyond the liminal boundaries between the phenomenal and the numinous branes of existence, and obviously this whole UFO what-have-you is a manifestation of that, not some fucking ball lightning or whatever.”

I like The Bend of the World way more than the overrated Mysteries of Pittsburgh. It’s much more authentic – and a lot more fun.

About the author

Ed Sikov is the author of 7 books about films and filmmakers, including On Sunset Boulevard:; The Life and Times of Billy Wilder; Mr. Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers; and Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis.

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