Generation Loss

Shirley Jackson Award Winner.

The novel that introduces Cass Neary.

Cass Neary made her name in the 1970s as a photographer embedded in the burgeoning punk movement in New York City. Her pictures of the musicians and hangers on, the infamous, the damned, and the dead, got her into art galleries and a book deal. But thirty years later she is adrift, on her way down, and almost out. Then an old acquaintance sends her on a mercy gig to interview a famously reclusive photographer who lives on an island in Maine. When she arrives Downeast, Cass stumbles across a decades-old mystery that is still claiming victims, and into one final shot at redemption.

generation loss: the loss of quality between subsequent copies of data, such as sound recordings, video, or photographs.

Chapter One

There’s always a moment where everything changes. A great photographer — someone like Diane Arbus, or me during that fraction of a second when I was great — she sees that moment coming, and presses the shutter release an instant before the change hits. If you don’t see it coming, if you blink or you’re drunk or just looking the other way — well, everything changes anyway, it’s not like things would have been different.

But for the rest of your life you’re fucked, because you blew it. Maybe no one else knows it, but you do. In my case, it was no secret. Everyone knew I’d blown it. Some people can make do in a situation like that. Me, I’ve never been good at making do. My life, who could pretend there wasn’t a big fucking hole in it?

I grew up about sixty miles north of the city in Kamensic Village, a haunted corner of the Hudson Valley where three counties meet in a stony congeries of ancient Dutch-built houses, farmland, old-growth forest, nouveau-riche mansions. My father was — is — the village magistrate. I was an only child, and a wild thing as the privileged children of that town were.

I had from earliest childhood a sense that there was no skin between me and the world. I saw things that other people didn’t see. Hands that slipped through gaps in the air like falling leaves; a jagged outline like a branch but there was no branch and no tree. In bed at night I heard a voice repeating my name in a soft, insistent monotone. Cass. Cass. Cass. My father took me to a doctor, who said I’d grow out of it. I never did, really.
Read the whole first chapter.

Best of the Year lists:

  • “Although it moves like a thriller, it detonates with greater resound. A dark and beautiful novel.”
    Washington Post Book World
  • Shirley Jackson Award finalist
  • Believer Book Award finalist

Reviews + Quotes

“Cass is a marvel, someone with whom we take the difficult journey toward delayed adulthood, wishing her encouragement despite grave odds.”
Los Angeles Times

“Hand’s terse but transporting prose keeps the reader turning pages until Neary’s gritty charm does, finally, shine through.” (B)
Entertainment Weekly

* “Hand (Mortal Love) explores the narrow boundary between artistic genius and madness in this gritty, profoundly unsettling literary thriller.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A riveting page-turner.”
Valley Advocate

“The novel crackles with energy: it is alive.”
Nicholas Rombes, (The Ramones and New Punk Cinema)

“Intense and atmospheric, Generation Loss is an inventive brew of postpunk attitude and dark mystery. Elizabeth Hand writes with craftsmanship and passion.”
— George Pelecanos

“Lucid and beautifully rendered. Great, unforgiving wilderness, a vanished teenager, an excellent villain, and an obsession with art that shades into death: what else do you need? An excellent book.”
— Brian Evenson, The Open Curtain

About Elizabeth Hand

A couple of years after seeing Patti Smith perform, Elizabeth Hand flunked out of college and became involved in the nascent punk scenes in DC and NYC. From 1979 to 1986 she worked at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum; she was eventually readmitted to university to study cultural anthropology, and received her B.A.

She is the author of many novels, including Winterlong, Waking the Moon (Tiptree and Mythopoeic Award-Winner), Glimmering, and Mortal Love, and three collections of stories, including Saffron and Brimstone and Errantry.

Her fiction has received the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopeoic, Tiptree, and International Horror Guild Awards, and her novels have been chose as New York Times and Washington Post Notable Books. She has also been awarded a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship.

A regular contributor to the Washington Post Book World and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Hand lives with her family on the Maine Coast.

Elizabeth Hand is represented by the Martha Millard Literary Agency.

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