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The Five Simple Machines

Authors: Todd McEwen

Published by CB Editions

ISBN: 9780957326637

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“The machine,” says Saint-Exupéry, “does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.” In Todd McEwen’s latest off-kilter novel, fine women are loved and lost, human error is not averted, and much is learned, of both a practical and a speculative nature. You could call this a book about sex, and up to a point you’d be right.

"Todd McEwen can get you to laugh, simply by the quick spin he puts on someone's turn of phrase... This is a rare kind of humour: it is not only a matter of verbal deftness – a word, or a comma, popping up unexpectedly – but of intelligence, lightly applied. These stories manage to be unflaggingly funny, yet never wearisome: the tonal control is complete. And the deeper message is that laughter is a cure. I have the best job in the world because I can tell thousands of you at the same time about this book, instead of having to tell everyone individually."
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

"This beautifully produced little book is about sex. It is not about sex in a way that puts it at any risk of being nominated for the ludicrous Bad Sex Award that acknowledges the clumsiness of some novelists when they feel the need to join their characters between the sheets. Nor is it anything to do with the sort of erotic fantasy that made 50 Shades Of Grey a Kindle hit. In fact, it takes time to ridicule people who find diversion in the paraphernalia of manacles, whips and chains and have fake dungeons in their garage instead of a car and a lawnmower.... [T]he voices of the stories and the sharp, concise portraits of the characters are as much of a delight and McEwen, as readers of any of his work will know, has a remarkable gift for the startlingly original and yet instantly comprehensible descriptive phrase. I have been squirrelling away some of these phrases for future use. I hope to use them to impress women. You'll have guessed why."
Keith Bruce, The Herald

“If you want… a linear plot, conflict followed by resolution, and all the other neat comforts that contemporary fiction is supposed to provide, then look elsewhere… Instead [McEwen] offers ferocious wit, a stream of magnificent sentences, something to savour on every page, and a blissful knowledge of what really matters in life.”
The Guardian on Who Sleeps with Katz

Todd McEwen was born in California in 1953. He worked in broadcasting, theatre and the rare book trade before settling in Scotland in 1981. His most recent novel, Who Sleeps with Katz, was published by Granta in 2003. He now teaches at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

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