I don't know if I'd pin one genre label to Rich's writing. His work is daring and inventive literary fiction, with mainstream appeal. His tone is introspective, mysterious, beguiling, dark, humorous, composed, yet provocative.
—John McManus, Whiting Award Recipient and Author of Fox Tooth Heart
Like that of Don DeLillo or Joy Williams, the work of Richard Leise hums with mystery and an almost cosmic kind of power. With a sincerity rarely found in contemporary literature, Leise explores the mysteries of the human experience in an increasingly uncanny world. He does this in exquisitely crafted, winding sentences that can encompass whole lives or spiral into the deepest moments of personal revelation. This is writing that lets the numinous shine through the seams of the everyday, writing that reveals to us secrets we never knew we had.
—Kent Wascom, Author of The New Inheritors
The story of a girl begins with a boy. On Christmas morning, 1982, nine-year-old Jude Bendz survives the shocking and mysterious death of his twin sister, Mary. Bewildered by grief, he is comforted when, miraculously, Mary’s ghost appears, her spirit quickly informing a series of fantastic apparitions through which her life – and death – come into clearer focus. Problems soon arise, however, when his sister, promising salvation, places him at the center of a wide, yet narrowing plot that increasingly puts his life in mortal danger.
A novel that transcends its historical moment, Being Dead brilliantly subverts the conventions of the traditional Ghost story. Reconstructing her own death through a series of spooky visitations and cryptic clues that, in time, seem to assume the shape of formal challenges, Mary creates for Jude a blueprint that blurs the line between truth and revenge, love and hate, an account that threatens to shatter their family’s perfect image.
Luminous, evocative, and set amidst the decline of American exceptionalism and the nuclear family, this is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a work of striking power in the face of stark solitude. As Mary interweaves elements of a set past that portends a harrowing future, life rears up large and ripples against death’s certain pressures, generating mesmerizing suspense and surprising empathy. Yielding poignant insights into the nature of love and loss, savagery and splendor, Being Dead asserts itself as a new American gothic—hugely powerful, majestically unassuming, and keenly unsettling.