Martin Riker

The Guest Lecture

(Grove Press, 2023)

Publisher's website & ordering

Praise

“Riker spins a brilliant and innovative exploration of modern economic history in the form of a late-night waking dream … It's a transporting, clever, and inspired work of fiction.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A wonderfully playful novel! The Guest Lecturefollows a sleepless mind restlessly roving through major economic questions and inviting those questions into conversation with the everyday problems of inhabiting a house and a job and a life. It's a fun read and an education, like the best of lectures.”— Eula Biss, author of Having and Being Had and On Immunity

The Guest Lectureis so funny and sad and smart about its sadness. Its topicality isn't cheap, but deep and earned—our own—founded in the way thinking and feeling have been ceded to politics, often by those of us who think and feel the most. Martin Riker has written a major novel of bizarro feminism, language, love, family, money, and whatever the hell it means to own, or make, or be, a ‘property,’ in a voice as clear, sincere, and wry as any I've read in current American fiction.”— Joshua Cohen, author ofThe Netanyahus, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“This funny, audacious and deliciously self-critical novel can be read as a fruitful attempt at fulfilling that old and beautiful dream of reuniting literature and life.”— Alejandro Zambra, author of Chilean Poet

“Rocking back and forth on a lectern made out of insomnia and darkness, brilliance and humor, Martin Riker gives us a gorgeous novel that turns the lecture inside out. Riddled with ghosts and stage-fright and love, everything it takes to give an idea breath is showing. As formally masterful as it is gutsy, The Guest Lectureis the spiel of a lifetime, a life's work, a working life. If all lectures were like Riker's, I'd plant myself in the very front row, dead center, and never go home.”— Sabrina Orah Mark, author of Wild Milk and the forthcoming Happily

The Guest Lectureis a funny and surprising novel about failure, economic history, the logic of memory, and what it means to care for one another at this terrifying moment in history. Abby's dark night of the soul left me feeling something I had not felt in a long time—hope.”— Christine Smallwood, author of The Life of the Mind

Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return

(Coffee House, 2018)

Publisher's website & ordering

Millions interview with Stephen Sparks

Excerpts at Brooklyn Rail & LitHub

Praise

“Riker is a gifted storyteller, and his novel's enchanting exploration of humanity and philosophy, of how humans connect with their environment and community, is unforgettable.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Riker brings a unique, cheerfully grotesque sensibility to his crack at this hallucinatory mini-genre, emphasizing the bleakest aspects of his premise as he roves through a swath of the past half-century of American life.” — The New York Times

“The debut of Riker's first novel, Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return, is so thrilling for us bookish types.” — The Millions

“This is a comic-philosophical novel, the other side of the same coin as Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” — The Wall Street Journal

“A lush, comic, and bighearted journey through the minds and experiences of American strangers.” — Literary Hub

“Like a television rerun, Samuel's situation repeats, but the story of his eternal return does end, as all books must, in a manner that is absolutely dazzling.” — Los Angeles Times

“A quirky, multi-bodied story.” — Shelf Awareness

“Reincarnation, cycles of violence, and the history of television: Martin Riker's debut novel finds an intriguing overlap between a host of seemingly disparate subjects.” — Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“A darkly funny contemporary story.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return is the needle and thread that connects life and death, grumpy old man and flâneur.” — New Pages

“A philosophical yet fast-paced tale filled with satisfyingly unexpected turns.” — Booklist

“One of our finest readers is now one of our most exciting novelists… . A funny, amiable, wholly original time-bender of a debut.” — Ed Park

“By turns hilarious and tragic, Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return is a haunting and bizarre novel of twentieth-century television and other forsaken American landscapes.” — Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi

“Samuel Johnson's demonstrates how beginning with a familiar object of interest (a quirky nineteenth century novel, for instance) can lead—if followed rightly—to a site of novelty and abundance.” — Gulf Coast

“Funny, gorgeous, haunted.” — St. Louis Magazine

“This peripatetic novel somehow manages to be a thoughtful treatment of TV AND a beautiful statement on why we write books.” — Josh Cook, Porter Square Books (Cambridge MA)

“After his violent death, Samuel Johnson inhabits multiple souls as he strives to reunite with his now orphaned young son. Traveling between dark humor, unfathomable tragedy, and tracing the history of television in America, Martin Riker’s outstanding debut novel Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return illustrates how the human spirit can persevere.”— Caitlin Luce Baker, University Book Store (Seattle WA)

“Ambitious and memorable, deadly serious and unexpectedly comic, Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return is the ghost story you've been waiting for.”— Michael Hermann, Gibson's Bookstore (Concord NH)

“One of my favorite books of the year. Martin Riker's debut novel spans decades of lives both remarkable and accurately unremarkable. As Samuel Johnson's spirit transmits from body to body, he's not so much reborn as forced to live again and again, all the while in search of his son and trapped in an existence he has no control over. This is a book of Homeric proportions, a hidden epic, like a long lost novel at last transcribed from the vault.” — Spencer Ruchti, Harvard Book Store (Cambridge MA)

“Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return is about Samuel Johnson, who dies only to find himself inside someone else’s body a mere passenger. Though seemingly powerless to influence his host, Samuel is desperate to get back to his son and the life he left behind. That's a fun and creative plot, which alone would probably sell me on the book. But Martin Riker's debut novel is full of so much more. It’s also about Nietzsche and friendship and what we spend our time doing and especially television. Riker's long subplot about television is almost as extraordinary as Samuel Johnson’s own journey. Is life merely one long repetition? Does television unite us or divide us? Can you live a life without all the boring parts? I don't know if Riker answers these questions, but with witty and captivating prose, the journey to ask them sure is worth it.” — Kyle Curry, The Book Cellar (Chicago IL)

“A perfectly wondrous tale, wildly engaging from the start, so sure and graceful in the telling, so crazyhuman in the best ways. It is now one of my favorite books.” — Rikki Ducornet