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Geiger's debut book finds humor, inspiration in the unknown
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“We all have so much in common. You wouldn’t think it from the endless cavalcade of animosity and discord on the Internet, but we do,” observes author Matt Geiger as he prepares for the release of his debut book. “We all live, we all die, and we are all far more confused by the world around us than we like to admit.”
“I’m no more enlightened than anyone else, but I do try to at least admit that I have no idea what’s happening around me,” he adds.
That admission opens endless narrative possibilities, which he explores eagerly in “The Geiger Counter: Raised by Wolves and Other Stories.”
Published by HenschelHAUS, a traditional, independent publisher based out of Milwaukee, the book’s cover shows an image of a little girl biting into fruit, which the author refers to as “the fruit of knowledge.”
It represents Geiger’s approach to writing the book, in which he actively engages in his own life with humor and insight, telling stories about his most monumental and mundane challenges. The stories have appeared in various newspapers, winning several awards. And now they are collected in Geiger’s first book.
“The book is about admitting you are in the dark and enjoying the glimpses of light you get. Seeking them out, even. If you get really lucky, bathing in one and dancing a little jig in it,” said Geiger.
As he examines life, he may not always be sure what he is looking at, but Geiger feels he has met life’s inconveniences – including puberty, a formal education, and raising a child – as his greatest adventures. When describing his work, he reads a quote from author G.K. Chesterton: “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
There are real-life tragedies, like the time he lived in New Jersey or the many times he caught his daughter eating dog food, but in all the stories he went on a journey, overcame obstacles and grew.
When writing the stories, as Geiger worked his way through understanding all the aspects of his life, he found humor in his voice.
“I once read an article about how author and humorist David Sedaris, who is transcendently funny, knows that not understanding things is always funnier than understanding them. In that way, I think he’s like Socrates,” Geiger said. “And by mentioning both of them in this interview, I hope people will mistakenly think I’m smart and funny by association.”
Early versions of Geiger’s moving, yet hilarious stories first appeared in his column, “The Geiger Counter,” published in News Publishing Company newspapers.
Alex Bledsoe, author of the acclaimed Tufa series, called it “funny stuff” that is “filled with genuine heart.”
Nick Chiarkas, award-winning author of Weepers, added: “This extraordinary collection is captivating, fun and memorable, and it deserves a large audience.”
“Geiger’s writing is a thrilling discovery,” said Kristen Lobe, author of Paris Hangover. “You feel as though you’re standing in a queue somewhere and all of a sudden you chat up the stranger next to you, who you realize inside of three sentences is just a fascinating, ridiculously fun individual. His work is simply brimming with wit and insight. A truly modern American storyteller!”
As he speaks about his work, Geiger admits writing comes easily to him, but editing the stories was the most challenging part of the process in publishing his first book. He says it has been one of the great joys of his life to work with HenschelHAUS Publishing to prepare the book for publication.
He also feels very lucky to get honest, helpful feedback from countless readers of his newspaper column.
“Many of those people over the years encouraged me to publish a book, which was always my plan anyway, but their input and encouragement were an integral part of the process,” he recognized.
As he prepares for the book to become available in major bookstores on Dec. 1 (it’s already available for pre-order now on Amazon.com), Geiger enjoys doing readings and sharing the book with others.
“When it comes to reading the stories to people, I like the one about the fact that some mythological creatures, like giants, are real,” he said. “And my story about being in a parade with hundreds of Ernest Hemingway look-alikes always makes me laugh, even though I’ve read it a thousand times. The same with the knight trying to use a portable bathroom in New Glarus.”
He shares that the first, middle and final chapters of his book are intended to work together as a single narrative.
“It’s one story broken into three parts. It’s about life and death, and I hope it makes people smile,” he said.
Overall, he hopes the book will encourage people to engage with their own lives and the people around them.
“Truth and language are dynamic. They are real, but they don’t just sit still and let you use them however you wish. They move and change, and in order to get at them – at truth, good language, other people, happiness and life in general – you must constantly engage with them,” he said. “You have to throw yourself in with them and become part of what they do.”