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Cover of Benchere in Wonderland

Steven Gillis

Benchere in Wonderland

A Novel
  • fiction
  • ISBN 978-0-9904370-5-5

What is the role of art in the world? And what is the responsibility of the artist? After the death of his wife, Michael Benchere, a well-respected sculptor and once-famous architect, looks for ways to redefine the meaning of his life through the purpose of his art. Determined to create a sculpture that celebrates nothing more than the pure beauty of art, Benchere heads into the Kalahari Desert, where he is followed quite unexpectedly by a ragtag mix of people. Over the course of his months in the desert, Benchere must address not only the relationship of his art to the world at large, but his own relationship to the world and how our responsibilities, our loves and dreams don’t ever fade in time but, in effect, become evermore defined.

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Praise for Benchere in Wonderland

Steven Gillis has created an indelible character in Benchere and let him loose in a slyly subversive wonderland of art, violence, love, grief, greed, and grand ideals. At once magnificently strange and achingly intimate, Gillis’ novel lingers and burns long after the covers are shut.

Dawn Raffel
Author of The Secret Life of Objects

Steven Gillis’s latest novel once again reminds us that he is not only a master storyteller able to conjure up narrative magic, but it’s his lyrical voice throughout the narrative that’s capable of finding the poetry in the most unlikely places that makes him the 21st century heir to Saul Bellow, John Cheever, and Stanley Elkin.  When you mix Gillis’s sad, beaten lyricism with his continual explosions of narrative surprise, the result is a glorious, tense luminosity that makes Benchere in Wonderland his best book yet, a satisfying and deeply moving read.

Richard Grayson
Author of Winter in Brooklyn

Steven Gillis’s new novel Benchere in Wonderland is not quite like anything else I’ve ever read.  Surprising, arresting, and electric, it kept me up a couple of nights in a row.  This author has a voice all his own, and it’s one I won’t forget.  Benchere in Wonderland is that rare thing—an original novel.

Steve Yarbrough
Author of The Realm of Last Chances

Steven Gillis’s latest novel, Benchere in Wonderland,  takes readers into the Kalahari Desert and embroils them in the stormy clash of art and commerce, politics and aesthetics, ideas, ideals, and the chaos of the human heart.  Anyone who has ever worried over the troubled relationship between art and the world will want to read this compelling novel.

Ed Falco
Author of The Family Corleone

Art and the role of the artist in society meet with African politics and exploitation in this meditation on action and consequences.

With Benchere’s emotional sphere in a state of flux, it becomes clear that his artistic and political views give him stability; his hardheadedness on these issues help him hold on to his sanity… Gillis also sets up a conversation about art and the artist’s role (or lack thereof) in political conversations. Should art’s influence be removed from politics—can it be?

Equal parts adventure, sociopolitical critique, love story, and emotional exploration, Benchere in Wonderland is a meditation on the fact that ‘all actions have consequences,’ whether immediately predictable or not.

Genevieve Shifke Ali, Foreword, 5 Stars

Every now and then I get ahold of a book that makes the reading experience just a little bit more special…I loved the book. The core of Benchere in Wonderland is ideas and ideals, art and the man, and the human nature brew of shit happening, whether instigated or not, but sometimes it’s our actions that start the landslide.

Laura J.W. Ryan, Upstate Girl

Gillis keeps it tight, focusing on Benchere who is engagingly free of self-importance and hard not to love…Gillis also writes with economy and verve, a bit the way Benchere makes his art. This is a book with a message – and in a world where a Picasso can sell for 179 million dollars it’s a message worth thinking about – but one delivered with lightness and impeccable flair.

Cath Murphy, LitReactor

This writer clearly knows how to tell a complex story, in a way no one can learn in a writing workshop….Benchere in Wonderland is a large book, a meaningful book, its story told by a masterful storyteller.

Conrad Geller, Lost Coast Review

Plaudits are due for Gillis’s brilliant fifth novel, an ambitious treatise on the role of art and the artist in modern day society. The author has an uncanny knack for depicting the best and worst of humankind… Gillis’s novel carefully examines the fallibility and resolve of the artist, the myriad repercussions that art can have, and the different ramifications of political art and art created merely for the sake of art—if there can be such a thing.

Publishers Weekly