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In Magic Hours, award-winning essayist Tom Bissell plumbs the depths and scales the heights of the creative process. From the set of The Big Bang Theory to one of David Foster Wallace’s last works; from the otherworldly universe of Werner Herzog’s films to Tommy Wiseau’s simply alien cult film The Room; from Iraq war documentaries to video-game character voices, Bissell asks why people choose to make the things they do and he shows us how they do it with startling insight and biting humor.

What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish? Bissell’s exploration of these questions makes for gripping, unforgettable reading.

Experience Bissell’s essayistic prowess with The McSweeney’s Books Preview, and check out his interview on The Rumpus. Also check out this awesome review on Brain Pickings.

Listen to Bissell discuss “Life After Publishers” on On the Media here.

A April Book recommendation, Flavorwire Must Read and a Kirkus Must Read in Spring Nonfiction!

Praise for Magic Hours:

“Tom Bissell is at his best in this terrific collection.”
—Geoff Dyer, author of Otherwise Known as the Human Condition

“Every one of Bissell’s pieces is like some great, transfixing documentary you stumble on while channel-surfing late at night—something you feel, in that moment, a kind of gratitude toward for redeeming your sleeplessness. Considered alongside his fiction, this new collection makes clear that Tom Bissell is one of our most interesting and ambitious writers.”
—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead

Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

“Stellar cultural writing—Bissell has the knowledge and wit to earn his provocations.”
Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Sharply observed, lushly descriptive and often extremely funny.”

“Bissell writes astutely, smartly, and with acerbic candor.”
The Boston Globe

“A highly gratifying literary experience.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Bissell’s essays are brutally honest, thoughtful and entertaining to the nth degree.”
The Portland Book Review


“Entertaining, informative and exquisitely readable.”
Shelf Awareness

“Full of beauty.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“[Tom Bissell] writes these essays with a storyteller’s eye for detail.”
New York Times Book Review