I first became aware of Edward Ives in 1998. I had just moved back to Seattle after my divorce, and I wasn’t working yet so I spent most of my days browsing in used bookstores. I found a battered copy of Monster Cottage on the floor in front of the Science Fiction shelf, so I picked it up, thinking it was some kind of fantasy novel.
To my surprise, it wasn’t fantasy at all, or at least not genre fiction. It was a slim novel — not much more than a novella — about the travails of a young aspiring writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. Since I had been a young aspiring writer living in Madison, Wisconsin, I was immediately hooked. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t buy that copy, since it only took me about half an hour to finish the whole thing while standing in the store.
I responded to Ives’ writing because of its openness and lack of affect. Ives was a romantic in a cynical age, and his characters were emotionally intense and larger than life. For a reader weary of stories with jaded, flat-affect, disengaged observers wallowing in anomie, it was refreshing to read literary fiction that felt transcendent and almost like fantasy world-building within the real world.
The more of Ives’ work I dug up, the more I became intrigued with the author himself. He was a recluse, but not famous enough (like Salinger or Watterson) to be referred to as a recluse. In other words, just a loner who didn’t like to be interviewed or photographed, and who didn’t do readings or the typical things writers have to do in order to move books. (Hence, I guess, why his writing was and is hard to find.)
People talk about books or music or films that “saved their lives.” For me, that book was Monster Cottage. It came to me at a time when I was feeling alienated from the world and becoming consumed with cynicism and misanthropy, and it made me feel less alone in the cosmos, knowing there was at least one person out there who had been where I was, and knew of a way out.
That’s why I’ve created this website. I don’t see any other online resources for Ives’ work, and I thought it might be useful to compile here as much information as I can find on a worthwhile author who has been largely forgotten by the literary world.