Atticus Books, April 2011
ON POINT (NPR) GREAT SUMMER READ FOR 2011
BOOK PAGE TOP 10 INDIE PICK OF 2011
FINALIST FOR 3:AM MAGAZINE NOVEL OF THE YEAR
THREE GUYS ONE BOOK BEST OF 2011
MEET FINCH, a corporate drone and blogger who creates imaginary lives, but none as surreal as the life he’s about to lead as a decorative hermit.
MEET MR. CRANE, an eccentric billionaire whose whims change as often as the landscape outside his employee’s cave.
MEET THEM BOTH in The Bee-Loud Glade, a postmodern pastoral about the nature of nature and the nature of work, and the limits of solitude in a networked world.
Excerpts published in Pindeldyboz, PANK, Monkeybicycle, Hawk & Handsaw, The Collagist, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. The opening chapters have been rendered in comic form by Nathan Holic at the Atticus Review.
"An allegorical novel that seems eerily contemporary. Thoreau meets Ballard, meets Huysmans and many more."
—Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder and C
"With The Bee-Loud Glade, Steve Himmer has written a hypnotic and heartfelt debut novel, interweaving naturalistic beauty and postmodern complexity within this compulsively readable parable. Whether the story’s hermit-for-hire is a man approaching some form of enlightenment or merely the whim of an eccentric billionaire remains up for debate, but the novel itself is unambiguously ingenious and very clearly announces a shining new talent.”
—Frederick Reiken, author of Day For Night, The Lost Legends of New Jersey, and The Odd Sea
"Meet Finch: 10 years into his job as Assistant to the Director of Brand Awareness at Second Nature Modern Greenery, writer of dozens of blogs where he creates imaginary lives for himself —none as surreal as the life he’ll soon lead as a hermit. Enter Himmer’s humorous, carefully imagined world. Watch his skillful hand transform Finch into a postmodern Thoreau before your eyes. Sit still. Pay attention. Do all this, and you, too, will fall under this novel’s wondrous spell. I promise."
—Peter Grandbois, author of The Gravedigger, The Arsenic Lobster, and Nahoonkara
"Featuring a faceless drone from the world of corporate America and an eccentric millionaire whose whims change by the week, Steve Himmer’s The Bee-Loud Glade is a wonderful novel that’s hard to describe, but that’s a good thing. Just go where this stunning book takes you and enjoy the story, the characters, and the language.”
—Michael Kindness, host of Books on the Nightstand
"In The Bee-Loud Glade, Steve Himmer examines the charm of inertia. He professionalizes hermitry, making it a spectacle that is equal parts sitcom and documentary. The premise is wild but the execution is contemplative, making this novel funny two ways: funny ha-ha and funny strange.”
—William Walsh, author of Questionstruck and Ampersand, Mass.
"This is undoubtedly the greatest novel about ornamental hermits of the entire year. Hell, let’s go the whole hog and say this book is the greatest novel about ornamental hermits of all time. Steve Himmer’s The Bee-Loud Glade is as funny as it is profound, as strange as it is compelling. This is a book about wealth and poverty, about solitude and friendship, and about —among other things —a lion called Jerome. You simply can’t dislike a book that features a lion called Jerome.”
—Will Buckingham, author of The Descent of the Lyre and Cargo Fever
"Poignant, empathetic, humorous, and a solid tale for sustained interest, The Bee-Loud Glade is a satisfyingly modern novel, with a protagonist full of foibles but who grows before us in quiet wisdom.”
"If you are looking for a novel that explores both the natural and the philosophical with deftness and complexity, then look no further than The Bee-Loud Glade.”
"Gorgeously written, told with straight-forward prose, The Bee-Loud Glade is a story for the reader —and the writer. Himmer weaves a tale about solitude and community, about silence and communication, and the need for balance to make a life worth living. Anyone who takes time to settle in with this small treasure will come away with a sense of sadness for the busy-ness with which we stuff our modern lives, as well as yearning for a quieter, slower world, one to spend pondering a mushroom or a cloud, one to disappear and, for at least some time, be forgotten.”
“Serious in intent, immensely readable and entertaining in its execution: that, surely, is the mark of good writing.”
“The Bee-Loud Glade does a really interesting swerve from Emerson —can something be both postmodern and Transcendental? If so, Steve Himmer’s book is as close as it gets.”
“The Bee-Loud Glade takes the twinned dissonance between culture and nature, company and solitude, and braids them into one cleverly postmodern allegory that is a testament to Steve Himmer’s ability to write a thoughtful, funny, tender novel full of memorable characters and heart-stilling moments.”
“The Bee-Loud Glade is quite the original read, a top pick for the general fiction looking for something very new in their novels.”
—Midwest Book Review
"Himmer walks the tightrope between didactic and entertaining with lighthearted yet intensely thought-provoking ease. This novel remains playful in its delivery —an effect which lends gravity and solidarity to its center, making it not preachy or condescending as it could have easily been, but open to a reader’s interpretation of nature, technology, human interaction, and the balance between them. The journey through The Bee-Loud Glade is genuine and invigorating: a refreshing continuation of the discourse between the natural and modern worlds.”
"[A] fine and enjoyable read, an edifying book, one that satisfies and leaves the reader thinking about our place on the planet in Western society."
"Steve Himmer’s new novel The Bee-Loud Glade is a fascinating crossroads in American Literature, merging elements of classic transcendentalism and postmodernist pastoral. The riddles of solitude and originality are at the heart of this absurdist tale of secular faith and natural apostasy.”
"If you want to fall in love with nature (either for the first time or the hundredth), then this book will open your eyes to everything you have been missing. This book isn’t something that I have been able to get out of my mind. It makes me question ideas of necessity and want. This is the kind of book that will change how you view the world."
“The Bee-Loud Glade is a lovely allegory, packed with a sharp and biting message for those who would sleepwalk through its pages nodding and smiling. Himmer, of course, wrote this book with a great love of nature in mind. But anyone who reads this novel as no more than an ode to the plants and the animals has surely missed the bigger picture.”
"In this book, the comparisons are too numerous to count, but they all work together to create an elastic effect, where we as readers are continually pulled to nature and then back towards technology, away from what we thought was important and in the direction of something newly significant. As a book that pulls allegory apart, The Bee- Loud Glade does a wonderful job…”
"I won’t go on, because this is just the beginning and it’s really worth reading on your own. Himmer invokes no one so much as Thoreau, but a post-modern HDT, thoroughly saturated with Jerzy Kosinski or Alasdair Gray. Really great stuff. I’ll bet you’ve never read anything like this before."
—Three Guys One Book
"The premise of The Bee-Loud Glade is a quirky one, to be sure, and Himmer handles it beautifully, touching on our addiction to reality TV, our waning sense of purpose, and our lack of appreciation for nature. It’s a thoughtful book but it’s hysterical, too, and on several occasions I woke my snoring cat because I was laughing so hard. Himmer is a very cerebral writer but he’s also very gentle, and his words move as effortlessly as the river in which Finch performs his daily swim.”
—Outsider Writers Collective
"If you enjoy plots that stray from the beaten path, interesting main characters, novels with a bit of depth, and/or stories that explore the relationship between the modern and natural worlds and our place within them, I would highly recommend you give The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed; you may even find, as I did, that you’re delighted!”
"There is a deep criticism in The Bee-Loud Glade, but that criticism isn’t paralyzing or desperate, instead it orients the reader toward reflection, compassion and study. For a novel about a man living alone in the wilderness who hasn’t spoken for thirty or forty years, this book has quite a lot to say.”
“The Bee-Loud Glade speaks to something primal inside the heart and soul of men and possibly woman. Steve Himmer speaks directly to that need to find purpose, to do exactly what we were meant to do and to it with every part of our being.”
—The Orange Spotlight