The best books about the destruction of personal space

Michael J. Seidlinger Author Of Anybody Home?
By Michael J. Seidlinger

Who am I?

I respond to the darkness and the darkness responds to me. Before writing anything creative, I was studying to be a sociologist. I didn’t get there but all those peculiarities that criminology, deviant behavior, and symbolic interactionism (don’t get me started on Foucault or else we’ll be here all day) stuck with me. I won’t say I don’t care about characters but I’m more interested in stories that examine a character in relation to their status and situation within society. So yeah, lots of poverty, loneliness, and identity issues.


I wrote...

Anybody Home?

By Michael J. Seidlinger,

Book cover of Anybody Home?

What is my book about?

A seasoned invader with multiple home invasions under their belt recounts their dark victories while offering tutelage to a new generation of ambitious home invaders eager to make their mark on the annals of criminal history. From initial canvasing to home entry, the reader is complicit in every strangling and shattered window. The fear is inescapable.

Examining the sanctuary of the home and one of the horror genre’s most frightening tropes, Anybody Home? points the camera lens onto the quiet suburbs and its unsuspecting abodes, any of which are potential stages for an invader ambitious enough to make it the scene of the next big crime sensation. Who knows? Their performance just might make it to the silver screen.

The books I picked & why

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Hoarders

By Kate Durbin,

Book cover of Hoarders

Why this book?

Like the title might suggest, Kate Durbin’s collection points a poetic lens on a dozen or so hoarders living under the literal weight of their own material possessions. Using an interesting balance of first-person testimony set to an often dizzying and disturbing blend of descriptions of each hoarder’s stockpile of material afflictions, Hoarders feels borderline true-crime with hits vivid portrayal of mental illness and loneliness.


The Cipher

By Kathe Koja,

Book cover of The Cipher

Why this book?

The Cipher will always remain my top-fave book of all time. A multiple award winner (I’m forgetting just how many it did win!), Koja’s novel came out of nowhere at a time when horror was bubbling up as a popular trend among trade publishing in the mid-90s. It’s about an impossible discovery—a mysterious hole in an apartment building that seemingly mutates and destroys all it comes across—as well as an inspection of how our own personal space can often become our own worst enemy. It’s a masterpiece and a must-read.


Basal Ganglia

By Matthew Revert,

Book cover of Basal Ganglia

Why this book?

Matthew Revert and I go way back. He’s a true polymath in that he’s a designer, musician, and also the author of multiple novels and collections. My favorite of his is Basal Ganglia, a novel about two lovers that live in this insane pillow fort. There’s a movie, I think it’s called Dave Builds a Maze, that kind of taps into the full-flung dive into implausibility to explore personal space and intimacies but of course, Revert’s just hits different. 


The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

By Olivia Laing,

Book cover of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Why this book?

I actually forgot the title of this essay collection and for the longest time I was kicking myself, truly beating my head against a wall trying to remember what it was. Thanks to this feature, I was able to! Olivia Laing is amazing in her ability to tap into vulnerabilities with an uncanny sense of ease and in The Lonely City, she focuses on urban isolation and loneliness, something to which most creatives living in a big city can relate. After reading this one, you’ll walk a city block looking not at what the streets have in store for you but rather what might be existing behind closed doors, invisible to you but all too real to those trapped in those spaces.


High-Rise

By J.G. Ballard,

Book cover of High-Rise

Why this book?

A polarizing book for sure, Ballard was an early influence of mine, probably because I’ve always viewed reality from behind a sociological lens and Ballard famously (or infamously?) tackled increasingly dire sociological topics like technology, isolation, and repression. In High-Rise, which just might be his best novel, Ballard turns a high-rise apartment block into ground zero of a class war wherein the floors themselves are demarcated and stratified according to property values, which leads to all kinds of scenes readers get to tear apart and inspect like a social scientist. 


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