Kirkus interview and last day on Chicago Review’s Instagram

My novel Overthrow goes on sale today. Call or click over to your local independent bookstore and buy it!

There’s a new interview of me by James McDonald Feder in Kirkus, mostly about the perils and rewards of writing a novel that touches on contemporary issues. And today is also the last day that I’m in “residency” at the Instagram account of the Chicago Review of Books.

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Hi, this is Caleb Crain, author of "Overthrow," which comes out today from @VikingBooks, on the 6th and final day of my Instagram "residency" here at @ChicagoRevBooks. At one point in "Overthrow," a character designs a logo for the impossibly utopian group that she belongs to, and it features a flying dove and a leaping dolphin. A couple of weeks ago, on a lark, I decided to make a stamp of the logo—or rather, three stamps, in blue, green, and black ink. Here they are, individually and (when you swipe to the next photo) together. Thanks for the opportunity to present these and my earlier photos! Since I started posting them, the novel has gotten some very generous reviews. The New York Times: "A 19th-century social novel for the 21st-century surveillance state." The Boston Globe: "Legitimately great psychological fiction." The Washington Post: "'Overthrow' accomplishes its mission." I hope you'll visit your local independent bookstore and pick up a copy! –Caleb

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Chicago Instagram residency, days 4 & 5: Chicago flashback and my mood board

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This is Caleb Crain, author of the novel "Overthrow," which comes out tomorrow from @VikingBooks. My husband says that people on the internet like mood boards, so here are some art postcards that hang over my writing desk. Above the bulletin board is a reproduction of Wilhelm Bendz's painting "Interior from Amaliegade with the Artist's Brothers," which I scissored out of the New York Times when it was reproduced there a few years ago. On the bulletin board proper, clockwise, from top left, and then snaking into the middle are postcards of the following: Frédéric Bazille's "Le Pêcheur à l'épervier," Jean-Étienne Liotard's "Trompe-l'oeil," Nicolas Poussin's "A Dance to the Music of Time," Félix Vallotton's "La Manifestation," Thomas Jones's "A Wall in Naples," Giovanni Bellini's "St. Francis in the Desert," Richard Diebenkorn's "Cityscape #1," William Scott's "Mackerel & Bottle," Claude Monet's "Les Roses," Luigi Ghirri's "Capri," a photo that I took of the Tower of London, and a medieval manuscript page with an illustration of a barge, taken from a Book of Hours made in Ghent in about 1480. I bought the Vallotton postcard at an exhibit of his work at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2013, about a year after I started writing "Overthrow," and we ended up using the image on the novel's dust jacket!

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Chicago Instagram residency day 3: A manuscript page

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Hi, this is Caleb Crain, on day 3 of my Instagram residency for the Chicago Review of Books. I'm a Luddite, as I confessed yesterday, and I always write fiction by hand (though I always write nonfiction on a computer—sorry, I can't explain the discrepancy). Here's a photo of a page of the manuscript for my new novel, "Overthrow," which comes out on Tuesday from @VikingBooks. It's from an early scene in the book, and I admit that I chose this page because the revisions on it look so impressively elaborate. (On many other pages, the marking up isn't so rococo.) My method is that the left-hand pages are for scribbles, and the right-hand pages are where I try to write fair copy, once I think I know where I'm going. But sometimes, like here, even on the right-hand page I'm still going for a wander. I start out writing double-line-spaced, but on this page the revisions have crept into the interstitial lines that would have been empty.

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Chicago Instagram residency, day 2: Luddite writing tools

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My name is Caleb Crain, and I'm a Luddite. Today I'm displaying my tools for writing. (My novel "Overthrow" comes out next week from @VikingBooks, and I'm doing a residency here at the Chicago Review of Books' Instagram account.) I write fiction longhand, and I tend to start scribbling in pencil, preferably with the Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB, though I have tried to be unfaithful to it with the Uni Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HB and the Uni Mitsubishi 9000 HB, and they and I have had some nice flings. I have no ambivalence about pens: the best is the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen (0.38 mm). The pencil sharpener pictured here is a Boston Vacuum Mount, inherited from my late father-in-law. I keep in supply four kinds of notebooks: the Staples Sustainable Earth composition notebook (for writing fiction); the Midori MD notebook, A5, lined (for keeping a journal); the Apica CD 11, A5, 7mm rule (for taking notes about books in); and the Muji Passport Notebook (for taking notes about everyday life in). My only phone is the ugly dumb burner phone here. Next to it is an Ipod Touch, which in my writing space has no internet access, because there's no Wi-fi, and which I use for the Oxford Shorter English Dictionary, Logeion, the Chambers Thesaurus, Lingea's Handy Lex English-Czech Large Dictionary, and a few foreign language dictionaries. The little white rope-like thing on the left is the tail of a librarian's snake; it has bullets inside, to make it heavy enough to hold open the pages of books. Pictured is a fine Staedtler eraser but I like the Uni Boxy eraser marginally more.

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