Useless Miracle

George Entmen just turned forty, and he can’t complain. As the James Lydecker Chair of Hermeneutics in the English department at Northwestern, he is honored in his field, beloved by friends and family, and ready to drift quietly into tenured middle age. But then he discovers that he can fly.

Sure, he can only fly very, very slowly; he needs to have his hands thrust out in front of him like Superman; and he only flies three or four inches above the ground. In fact, as he has to be prone to do it, he is, in flight, further from the sky than ever.

But why does this nonetheless amazing phenomenon drive so many people into a rage? Why do he and his family find themselves dodging livid magicians, exploitative friends, scheming billionairesses, thirteen-year-old boys who are sure they saw the wire, and, perhaps worst of all, angry hermeneuticians?

George’s friend Harvey tells him that, beneath all the chaos, his gift has to have a meaning. But to find it, Harvey says, George needs to understand one thing: “You’re not flying, you’re being flown.”


Reach chapter one of Useless Miracle here.

Barry Schechter is the author of the novel The Blindfold Test. His short fiction, poetry, and criticism have appeared in the Paris Review, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Review. He’s a lifelong resident of Chicago.

“Just a cunning party trick? Or a true 21st Century miracle? It is a nice little riddle and, as the plot thickens, George proves such an engagingly self-deprecating narrator that you want to know where his strange odyssey will end.” The Daily Mail

“You might think it’d be difficult to contemplate philosophical matters with your nose four inches from the carpet, but Barry Schechter, writing with an incisive eye, a spry mind, and a towering heart, not only pilots us through a turbulent set of Big Questions but even arrives at the answers, arguing sublimely for the value of living a dignified life in hilariously undignified times.” —Jeremy P. Bushnell, author of The Weirdness

“One of the funniest novels I’ve ever read. I dare you not to love this book – not to hoot out loud at every page, nor marvel at the novel’s poignant social satire, genuine warmth, and careening twists and turns. Useless Miracle is a necessary wonder.” —Christopher Boucher, author of How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

”Schechter deftly balances lush and descriptive prose with humorous dialogue, creating a complex plot from a mundane miracle and a cast of witty characters.”The Arkansas International