The Thing Is

  • Author Christopher Potter
  • Narrator Christopher Potter
  • Publisher Little, Brown Book Group
  • Run Time 3 hours and 33 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre Fiction: general and literary.

Listen to a sample

What to expect

The Thing Is . . .

A novel, a confession, a poem, an autofiction, a commonplace book, a prose poem.

By turns serious and playful, profound and trivial, sad and joyful, The Thing Is is a shape-shifting narrative: one that starts out as written by an alien, seeing the earth and its inhabitants from the outside. This perspective then becomes that of an everychild, who vaguely remembers having once been an alien, and evolves into the biography of everybody who has ever lived.

The narrative moves deftly from an ingenious theory about the origins of the universe and the emergence of life, to a riff on the poetic power of doorways (and other thresholds); or from stories about things hidden from view or buried by time, to what it feels like to be alive at this particular moment in history.

Beautifully wrought, often funny and poignant, The Thing Is is designed to be read in a variety of ways: in gobbets, all in one go, slowly, quickly, repeatedly. This slow/fast read is the perfect novel for our fast/slow times. Whatever The Thing Is to you, it will provide a new twist on the continuing adaptability of the form that we call the novel.

Critics Review

  • Christopher Potter’s The Thing Is is that great rarity: a book so original that it resembles, not even slightly, any other book I’ve ever read. A book of such breadth and depth, such mystery, such lacerating beauty that I found myself putting it down occasionally because with every page I was that much closer to the end. It’s a remarkable accomplishment

    Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
  • Artful and illuminating, this meditative novel is a hugely enjoyable take on the risky business of being human

    Salley Vickers, author of Miss Garnet's Angel
  • Christopher Potter’s book is a post-modern cabinet of wonders, an enigmatic, compulsive wander around his remarkable head, in words wondrously streamed out of his conscious: poetic, chaotic, crazy, sublime. Spooling back to childhood and into the future, like a half-remembered dream, it speaks to faith and infinity, filling the spaces in between with the kind of acute and raw observation that comes from an uninhibited, but deeply humane mind. An often hilarious game of word association, there’s a little of Woolf and Joyce and Thomas Browne going on here – but a lot of whimsical fun too. The Thing Is is like being at the most fantastical cocktail party, and saying, or hearing, the most wonderful things

    Philip Hoare, author of RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR

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