Citizen Steele shatters the conventions of the contemporary novel: in the spirit of Durrell and Proust, time is amorphous and arbitrary—only two constantly colliding aspects of humanity exist, philosophy and events. The book begins as narrative and concludes poetically; the reader rather than the author dictates reality.
“As time progressed, sitting in my cell I began to experience unparalleled freedom. Gazing up at the rectangular borders of the old plaster ceiling I recognized the infinite length of the lines that defined it. They reached far beyond the confines of this city and the farthest reaches of my dreams. They resonated with the fears and passions of the occupants they were inadvertently assigned to contain and cast outwardly the defective qualities of the system that imposed them.” So the mercurial protagonist Richard Jason Steele reflects on his incarceration in the context of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s revolutionary yet controversial manifesto of perceptions, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is, and everything happens as it does happen: in it no value exists—and if it did exist, it would have no value. For all that happens and is the case is accidental. What makes it non-accidental cannot lie within the world, since if it did it would itself be accidental. It must lie outside the world.”
Set in a foreboding, ethereal urban environment, a nameless city in which the protagonist Richard Jason Steele lives amidst characters both real and imagined, the lines of which become increasingly blurred as his schizophrenia worsens.
In his growing anguish Steele probes beyond metaphysical voids that only Houellebecq so far has stared head-on: “Not everything can be explained. There is thought and so there is reason, and so there is hope but inevitably, despair. An inanimate idea would be the perfect expression of infinity as a conscious state of mind ... a parallax portal by which one could stop living momentarily in organic terms, perhaps long enough to exchange ideas with God.”
Peter Shaindlin takes the reader on an enigmatic and provocative journey that melds the intellectual passion of Durrell and the transcendent bluntness of Sartre.
Citizen Steele Launch in Europe
The February 2017 event was celebrated at a ceremony at the legendary Hemingway Bar at Hôtel Ritz Paris, where the book was inducted into the bar’s library and permanent literature collection.
After reading Citizen Steele, the renowned head barman of the Hemingway Bar Colin Peter Field was inspired to create a special cocktail, the Penelope Furr, in tribute to the book’s eponymous ingénue. The Penelope Furr cocktail encompasses a subtle blend of ingredients as diverse as port and aged balsamic vinegar, and was first introduced to the public at the North American release event for Citizen Steele held in Honolulu in February 2016.
1 oz Campari
1 oz Port
½ oz Gin
Dash Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Serve with ice in a cocktail glass, garnish with orange or lemon slice