The Epiphany Machine
A searing alternative history of New York city, from the 60s to the near future, in which a tattoo machine is rumored to inscribe insightful assessments on its users’ forearms—with irreversible consequences.Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too.That’s the promise of Adam Lyon’s epiphany machine, or at least the headline of an original promotional flyer he uses in the 1960s. At that point, Adam is already hosting regular salon nights in his tiny New York City apartment, where his guests can offer up their forearms to his junky old contraption and receive important, personal revelations in the form of a tattoo.Over the decades, Adam’s apparatus teaches John Lennon to love The Beatles, takes early blame for the spread of HIV, and predicts several violent crimes. But most significant to Adam may be the days on which he marks the arm of Venter Lowood’s mother, and then his father, and then Venter himself.It’s Venter, a bright but lost young man, who becomes Adam’s protégé. It’s Venter who records the testimonials from epiphany machine users, who studies another writer’s history of the machine. And it’s Venter who reads Adam’s pamphlet, distributed into the 90s and aughts, that adds to his original oath:There are absolutely no circumstances under which your epiphanies or any other personal information will be shared with law enforcement.It’s Venter who will be forced to reconcile himself to this important caveat, when the government begins asking questions about a very specific tattoo that marks the arm of his best friend.

The Epiphany Machine Details

TitleThe Epiphany Machine
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJul 18th, 2017
PublisherG.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN039957543X
ISBN-139780399575433
Number of pages432 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Adult

The Epiphany Machine Review

  • Faith
    June 30, 2017
    "You already know what the machine will write on your arm. That lie you've been telling yourself—you know what it is. That blind spot is not really a blind spot—you're choosing to look away." The epiphany machine tattoos a statement on the forearms of people who want to find out something about themselves, some characteristic that they already know on some level but are afraid to face. Adam Lyons has been operating the machine for years, but where it came from and how it works is not clear. Is A "You already know what the machine will write on your arm. That lie you've been telling yourself—you know what it is. That blind spot is not really a blind spot—you're choosing to look away." The epiphany machine tattoos a statement on the forearms of people who want to find out something about themselves, some characteristic that they already know on some level but are afraid to face. Adam Lyons has been operating the machine for years, but where it came from and how it works is not clear. Is Adam directing the writing or is some force responsible? Are you fated to follow your message or do you alter your behavior to conform to the tattoo? Can the tattoo predict criminal behavior? Venter Lowood comes to get a tattoo and winds up working for Lyons while he is still in high school. Venter has a very conflicted relationship with Adam and the machine.Inspired by the skin art of both "Moby Dick" and "In the Penal Colony", this book had a unique premise and raised some interesting questions, however I didn't really connect with either the writing style or the protagonist. The narration was periodically interrupted by interviews that were conducted by Venter with people who had used the machine and by chapters of a book written by someone who seemed obsessed with the machine. This made the rhythm of the book a little wonky for me. Also, the descriptions of the experiences with the machine got to feel repetitive. I think the book should have been 100 pages shorter. Venter was just such a limp, passive character that I didn't really care about him, even after he betrayed his best friend and suffered from the guilt that this caused. Ultimately, I thought this book was a good attempt at writing something out of the ordinary, I just wasn't crazy about the execution. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Alex Flynn
    June 4, 2017
    A fantastic novel about growing up, fate and morality. Like his earlier novel, Short Century, Gerrard tells an slightly-alternative version of American history. Though the Epiphany Machine takes a seemingly outlandish concept, a machine that writes a deep truth about people on their arms, and embeds it in the heart of late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Epiphany Machine has a uncertain provenance, with many theories as to its origins. In the end (for the novel) it ends up in the hands of a A A fantastic novel about growing up, fate and morality. Like his earlier novel, Short Century, Gerrard tells an slightly-alternative version of American history. Though the Epiphany Machine takes a seemingly outlandish concept, a machine that writes a deep truth about people on their arms, and embeds it in the heart of late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Epiphany Machine has a uncertain provenance, with many theories as to its origins. In the end (for the novel) it ends up in the hands of a Adam, a man living in New York who operates it illegally out of his apartment, where nobodies and celebrities alike congregate to await their mystical message. Venter, the protagonist, has a strange link to the machine and Adam. His mother, who disappeared from his life, was Adam's assistant and his father, forbids him to even read about the machine...which clearly draws him to it. He ends up working for Adam and starting a project of interviewing the many users of it, to learn how the machine changed (or didn't change) their lives. Through these testimonials and Venteer's own life, Gerrard deftly explores the many complex themes while keeping up an engaging story where I often found myself forgetting that the Epiphany Machines isn't actually a real device. A great read, one of the rare books that is both entertaining and intellectually engaging at the same time.
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  • Renée Goldfarb
    June 26, 2017
    Thank you to Penguin's First to Read Program for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. The Epiphany Machine, by new author David Burr Gerrard, is the story of a tattoo machine that inscribes one’s inner-most insights onto his or her forearm. The story is told through the eyes of its protagonist, Venter Lowood, and shares an alternative history of New York City from the 60’s through present time.I thought the book was brilliant and it reminded me very much of Jonatha Thank you to Penguin's First to Read Program for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. The Epiphany Machine, by new author David Burr Gerrard, is the story of a tattoo machine that inscribes one’s inner-most insights onto his or her forearm. The story is told through the eyes of its protagonist, Venter Lowood, and shares an alternative history of New York City from the 60’s through present time.I thought the book was brilliant and it reminded me very much of Jonathan Safran Foer’s writing style, with its smart prose, imperfect characters, and unique plot. This book came along when I needed it to the most . . . I was in a rut reading the same story lines over and over again. The Epiphany Machine is unlike any story that I’ve ever read and I can honestly say that there will never be another book like it. The one chapter devoted to an examination of one of the 9/11 terrorist is one of the most intense (and uniquely written) chapters that I’ve ever read. This book may possibly be the next big thing, similar to how Foer’s “Everything is Illuminated” was for a similar new, young author.
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  • Angel Hench
    July 15, 2017
    Read all my reviews at ouroborosfreelance.com.What would my epiphany tattoo be? What would yours be?“The worst possible thing you could think of to say about someone will almost certainly be your epiphany.”The epiphany machine tattoos on the forearm a one-sentence “truth” about the person receiving the tattoo. You know, that one thing about someone that everyone knows – except the person themselves.“Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too”Venter Lowood is the POV charac Read all my reviews at ouroborosfreelance.com.What would my epiphany tattoo be? What would yours be?“The worst possible thing you could think of to say about someone will almost certainly be your epiphany.”The epiphany machine tattoos on the forearm a one-sentence “truth” about the person receiving the tattoo. You know, that one thing about someone that everyone knows – except the person themselves.“Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too”Venter Lowood is the POV character in this book. His fascination with the epiphany machine starts young; his mother abandoned him as a baby to work with Adam Lyon, the man who runs the epiphany machine. We follow Venter from childhood to middle age, and as the world changes around him, so does the public opinion of epiphany tattoos. John Lennon gets a tattoo, as does a 9/11 terrorist. The tattoos can be bought with $100 or with no monetary exchange and then commercialized epiphany tattoos are the norm. In the beginning, one tattooed person says of their unflattering epiphany:“You should only feel shame before you feel shame. Once you feel shame, you know that you have to change. When you feel shame, you should really feel relief. You should say: ‘Hurray! Now I know that I have to change.”By the end, another says,“Shame is basically hypocrisy redirected against yourself-it’s holding yourself to a higher standard than you’re capable of meeting, rather than holding other people to a higher standard than you’re capable of meeting.”This book is beautifully written in many distinct voices – the main narrative, short stories from a book about the epiphany machine, and accounts by those who have received epiphany tattoos.As this is only Gerrard’s second novel, I predict you should expect further great reads from this writer!Now – I want an epiphany tattoo.Rating: 92/100
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  • Annie
    June 23, 2017
    Along with the quest to find one’s purpose in life, the next biggest challenge a human can face is to figure out who they are and find a way to live with themselves. In David Burr Gerrard’s The Epiphany Machine, we see that struggle over and over as Venter Lowood deals with the fallout from several lifetimes of bad decisions and misunderstandings. At the heart of all these decisions and misunderstandings is the eponymous machine, which tattoos an epiphany on the forearm of anyone who uses it. Th Along with the quest to find one’s purpose in life, the next biggest challenge a human can face is to figure out who they are and find a way to live with themselves. In David Burr Gerrard’s The Epiphany Machine, we see that struggle over and over as Venter Lowood deals with the fallout from several lifetimes of bad decisions and misunderstandings. At the heart of all these decisions and misunderstandings is the eponymous machine, which tattoos an epiphany on the forearm of anyone who uses it. The epiphanies reveal truths, prophecy fates, and generally disrupt everything. And yet, for a book about figuring things out, The Epiphany Machine is a very satisfying read because it answers so many of the questions posed in its pages...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.
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  • Bryce
    June 27, 2017
    A wickedly funny interrogation of the modern American condition, one with a story that's so compelling that you'll almost—almost—become engrossed enough to stop wondering what epiphany the epiphany machine would give you. Definitely in my top-3 fiction reads of the year so far.
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  • Todd Glaeser
    May 30, 2017
    Received galley for free from FirstToRead.com Kind of reminded me of a couple of Twilight Zone episodes. I was entertained but the ending left me unsatisfied. Everything was left unresolved. Sometimes I don't mind that.
  • Everdeen Mason
    July 7, 2017
    From column:David Burr Gerrard’s new novel, The Epiphany Machine , is hilarious. It’s a razor-sharp alternate history that imagines the United States — mainly New York — shaped by a mysterious piece of technology. This odd sewing machine-like device tattoos a short, pithy truth on each person’s arm. These tattoos have inspired history-changing events, including John Lennon’s songs and his assassination. The novel includes excerpts from other books and interviews with those tattooed or affected b From column:David Burr Gerrard’s new novel, The Epiphany Machine , is hilarious. It’s a razor-sharp alternate history that imagines the United States — mainly New York — shaped by a mysterious piece of technology. This odd sewing machine-like device tattoos a short, pithy truth on each person’s arm. These tattoos have inspired history-changing events, including John Lennon’s songs and his assassination. The novel includes excerpts from other books and interviews with those tattooed or affected by the machine. But it’s mainly the memoir of Venter Lowood, whose entire life has been defined by the Epiphany Machine. His parents were once in the inner circle of a cult, but his mother abandoned him due to a revelation from her tattoo. Venter spends the novel trying to find meaning in his life, all in defiance of the phrase emblazoned on his forearm: “DEPENDENT ON THE OPINION OF OTHERS.” Venter’s circular arguments about himself and society are funny even when they’re depressing. Gerrard’s novel emphasizes just how desperately people want confirmation of their place in the world.Read more: wapo.st/2sxujB5
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  • Jackie Taylor
    June 13, 2017
    The premise of this novel is initially what drew me to review it. I enjoy counterculture periods, I live and love things set in NYC, and I will soon be an attorney (Big Law culture references and attorneys run rampant throughout the story). It begins with some quotes pulled from writers such as, Kafka and James Joyce, to set the tone and a list of 19 "things to consider before using the Epiphany machine." Do not skim it. Read the list in full because it reveals the types of characters you will n The premise of this novel is initially what drew me to review it. I enjoy counterculture periods, I live and love things set in NYC, and I will soon be an attorney (Big Law culture references and attorneys run rampant throughout the story). It begins with some quotes pulled from writers such as, Kafka and James Joyce, to set the tone and a list of 19 "things to consider before using the Epiphany machine." Do not skim it. Read the list in full because it reveals the types of characters you will not only meet along the way, but also serves as a commentary on humanity. There are several other stylistic forms you will discover on your journey: One is that all tattoos are announced in a bold, capitalized font. Another is that there are testimonials weaved throughout. Lastly, do not be surprised to find newspaper articles or book excepts as a break within the chapters. If you do not enjoy those sorts of explanatory sources in your fiction, do not let it stop you from reading it since it does not interfere with the text too much. The story is told through a first person narrative regardless of whether it is a testimonial (which would make sense), or the portion involving the protagonist. I do agree with some other reviews that the main character can be a bit unlikeable at times, and many of the anecdotes have leave you feeling bleak. The questions peppered throughout are meant to make readers pause and think (or at least that is what I gathered from them). The word choice is interesting, varying between simple and then a startling intelligent observation or more complex sentence, but that is not what forces readers to continue onward. The story itself is compelling because you want to know what is going to happen or where it is leading, but it takes almost the entire book, which could annoy some and the ending is kind of a tidy wrap-up. Do not pick this up if you are looking for a beach read, but I do recommend it if you are searching for something unique, worthy of reflection, and an interesting psyche experiment that strips down morals and tendencies of the human race.
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  • Tori
    July 8, 2017
    ****I received a copy of this ARC from Penguin's FirstToRead Program!****This book is so unique. I heard book about a weird sewing machine that gives people tattoos that are both specific to them and yet sometimes painfully vague and was basically like "Oh man this is either going to be incredibly condescending or incredibly entertaining. Well...it both actually!While this book was very dense and at points hard to push through, I also knew that it was in fact a very good book with an important m ****I received a copy of this ARC from Penguin's FirstToRead Program!****This book is so unique. I heard book about a weird sewing machine that gives people tattoos that are both specific to them and yet sometimes painfully vague and was basically like "Oh man this is either going to be incredibly condescending or incredibly entertaining. Well...it both actually!While this book was very dense and at points hard to push through, I also knew that it was in fact a very good book with an important message. There have been many books before and will be after that will in a sense be work to finish, but it doesn't mean I won't enjoy every second of it while I try to dig into the many points behind it. Many Classics fall into this category and I wholeheartedly feel that this is a modern classic with a clear POV and mission. The characters and world were real and very fleshed out, which is good because the whole point is people seeing others as they really are and how they deal with it. I honestly felt like if The Epiphany Machine was real, this exact course of events would be plausible if not 100% accurate, especially with the reaction to tattoos that seemed to corelate with exposing criminals.Overall, the only reason I didn't give 5 stars is the few times with repeating first lines in different paragraphs slowly fleshing out a story that I guess had a point, but drove it way too hard (if you read it, you know what I mean) where I just had to start skipping pages. Me skipping pages = not engaging. If the book had dropped those few segments, it would easily be 5 stars.
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  • Amy He
    June 29, 2017
    Frankly, I'm not quite sure how to go about reviewing this one. Should I talk about the unpredictability, even absurdity, surrounding characters’ actions because everyone is an unreliable narrator? What about the novel's value as a commentary on the post–9/11 paranoia? I could also talk about now the story poses as a cynical assessment of the human incapability for change, but ultimately becomes something more like a frustrated—but ultimately forgiving—portrait of (painfully slow) growth and mat Frankly, I'm not quite sure how to go about reviewing this one. Should I talk about the unpredictability, even absurdity, surrounding characters’ actions because everyone is an unreliable narrator? What about the novel's value as a commentary on the post–9/11 paranoia? I could also talk about now the story poses as a cynical assessment of the human incapability for change, but ultimately becomes something more like a frustrated—but ultimately forgiving—portrait of (painfully slow) growth and maturity.What is certain is that the novel's ambitions to analyze the human psyche while simultaneously critiquing the demands and constraints placed on individuals by a variety of sources (romantic partners, the moral judgments of society, a powerful government) result in an intriguing narrative that I couldn’t put down. Parts of it annoyed me (the aforementioned unreliability, nearly everything about Venter Lowood). On the other hand, I really enjoyed the subplot of Venter’s struggle to write stories, coupled with the understated discussion about whether writers have a moral obligation to society and whether one can truly write what is true.I guess I believe what The Epiphany Machine ultimately says about people. We think we're perfectly capable of changing for the better through our honest efforts, we're often just deluding ourselves, and we constantly search for some pithy revelation or new self-help philosophy to jumpstart our resolutions to be better, happier people. I think it is possible for people to change (and I believe that the author feels the same way), but the mechanism doesn't lie within ourselves.If this review feels a bit all over the place, I’ll just say that this novel tackles a lot of different themes and that the best way to find out what it is “about” is to simply give it a read.Rating: 4.5/5I received access to this e-galley for free through Penguin Random House’s First to Read program, in compliance with FTC guideline
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  • Susan
    July 11, 2017
    This is part of a group of books written in a writing style that I just do.not.like. (Called "experimental" according to my son.) That displeasure ruins even the cleverest of ideas. I wish I could determine which books are presented this way so I could avoid them. I like the concept of the book, a tattoo machine that inks you with some magical revelation and the positive/negative impact of those revelations, and even some of the characters but the writing is not for me. It felt the like the book This is part of a group of books written in a writing style that I just do.not.like. (Called "experimental" according to my son.) That displeasure ruins even the cleverest of ideas. I wish I could determine which books are presented this way so I could avoid them. I like the concept of the book, a tattoo machine that inks you with some magical revelation and the positive/negative impact of those revelations, and even some of the characters but the writing is not for me. It felt the like the book was self-absorbed with its own self-importance as though the story were some groundbreaking piece of literature. But, like I said, this is a presentation and I have seen it before so it is not just an issue with this particular author. Entire chapters in the book went off on tangents with a few of them trying to feel like some weird form of free verse poetry. I don't know what else to call it. Also, I really need to avoid fiction that try and deal with 9-11. It is not an event to use as a prop and I have yet to find a book that is able to pull it off. finally, the book was way too obsessed with oral sex. I felt like it was tied up with the fake self-importance, like a kid saying a swear word and then giggling because he knows he said a bad word. If you liked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (and a lot of people that aren't me did like it) then you would probably like this book too. A copy of this book was provided by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Ana Harvey
    July 3, 2017
    "The Epiphany Machine" is not a light-hearted, fun, summer read. It is dark, complicated, frustrating, and as real as an alternative history should be. Although it is a very well written book, with an original and thought-provoking theme, it was not an enjoyable read for me. The characters are selfish and often unlikable. It was difficult to relate to the main characters, including Venter and Adam, which made it hard to care about the consequences that befell them. The interweaving of characters "The Epiphany Machine" is not a light-hearted, fun, summer read. It is dark, complicated, frustrating, and as real as an alternative history should be. Although it is a very well written book, with an original and thought-provoking theme, it was not an enjoyable read for me. The characters are selfish and often unlikable. It was difficult to relate to the main characters, including Venter and Adam, which made it hard to care about the consequences that befell them. The interweaving of characters like John Lennon and the 911 terrorist Ziad were promising at first, but then dissolved as the story progressed. The frequent reference to Venter's tattoo as a label he is unable to escape feels repetitive and unchangeable, making for a bleak outlook for him. The story of the epiphany machine itself is unsatisfying and leaves the reader full of questions. The story does venture into reality with its description of treatment of "terrorists" after the 9/11 attacks, however even that feels incomplete. Gerrard creates an alternative world where a strange New York City cult rises and falls without much consequence. Likewise, "The Epiphany Machine" was capable of so much more than it delivers.
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  • Laura Newsholme
    July 3, 2017
    This is one of those books that will stay with you, it will get under your skin, if you'll forgive the pun. It tells the story of Venter, a young man who has had his whole life shaped by the epiphany machine - a tattoo device that purports to tell you about yourself. It is a really original idea and the quality of the prose ensures that the originality does not suffer from poor execution, as can often be the case. The tone is razor sharp and pulls no punches. Our protagonist is by turns, weak, u This is one of those books that will stay with you, it will get under your skin, if you'll forgive the pun. It tells the story of Venter, a young man who has had his whole life shaped by the epiphany machine - a tattoo device that purports to tell you about yourself. It is a really original idea and the quality of the prose ensures that the originality does not suffer from poor execution, as can often be the case. The tone is razor sharp and pulls no punches. Our protagonist is by turns, weak, unpleasant and downright obnoxious, and yet we are still drawn to his meanderings. Interspersed throughout the narrative are individual testimonials of those people who have used the machine along with chapters from a book written about the machine and news articles, all of which provide relief from Venter's point of view when needed. The book takes a somewhat predictable turn midway through, which I found a little disappointing, but the satirical skill employed by the author surrounding the events in the latter half of the novel cannot be denied. All in all, this is a great novel which succeeds in holding a mirror up to modern western culture in all it's grotesque glory.
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  • Jenny Houle
    July 12, 2017
    I received an ARC of this book from FirstToRead for an unbiased opinion. Here it is:Have you ever had to force yourself to put a book down so you could process how it made you feel? In particular, a fictional book? That was my experience with THE EPIPHANY MACHINE. I could have read it in one sitting, but I kept feeling like I would have missed out on some of the experience if I didn't let myself work through my reactions.I don't know that I've ever read anything that qualified as "alternative hi I received an ARC of this book from FirstToRead for an unbiased opinion. Here it is:Have you ever had to force yourself to put a book down so you could process how it made you feel? In particular, a fictional book? That was my experience with THE EPIPHANY MACHINE. I could have read it in one sitting, but I kept feeling like I would have missed out on some of the experience if I didn't let myself work through my reactions.I don't know that I've ever read anything that qualified as "alternative history" before now, which may have led to some of my reaction to the book itself. I felt like the details were so accurate in some parts that it made it seem entirely plausible that this...could have happened. That it would have been easy to see a machine like the epiphany machine being used, and the effects it would have caused on our society.I'm Ventor Lockwood (the main character)'s age and grew up just outside of NYC, so the latter part of the book felt particularly close to home. There are things we have all clung to in the past three decades...truths we needed to believe...I know what my tattoo would read: "Is too loyal to those unworthy". I attempt to fight the truth, but the reality is, I have to face it and either consciously act against it or accept it and not let it overrule my life. What would yours say?
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  • Brittany
    June 12, 2017
    3.5 stars. This science-fiction, revisionist history novel really captured my interest at first. The story follows Venter as he tries to navigate his childhood during the 60's after his mother has abandoned him and he's left with his grandmother to raise him. The epiphany machine is a taboo subject with his father, and the story follows both a written "history" of the epiphany machine and a coming-of-age story of Venter and his friends. Theories vary about the epiphany machine from a tool from G 3.5 stars. This science-fiction, revisionist history novel really captured my interest at first. The story follows Venter as he tries to navigate his childhood during the 60's after his mother has abandoned him and he's left with his grandmother to raise him. The epiphany machine is a taboo subject with his father, and the story follows both a written "history" of the epiphany machine and a coming-of-age story of Venter and his friends. Theories vary about the epiphany machine from a tool from God to a manipulation by a cult leader Adam Lyons. For believers, the machine inscribes each individuals deepest revelation as a tattoo on the forearm. Critics claim Adam does these tattoos of entirely his own volition. This was a complex and twisted read exploring themes of maturity, self-discovery, loyalty, and how we are compelled by others perspectives of us. The ending left me floundering as I felt there were things I would have liked resolved, otherwise this would have been a solid 4 star for me. For interesting and thought provoking read.
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  • Kathleen
    June 8, 2017
    This is a book chocked full of allegories and symbolism. I understood the basic duality of the tattoos - do labels make us into something we aren't or do they propel us to be something completely opposite. I also understood how labels give the world an idea of us before they really know anything else about us. But this book delved much deeper and much farther than that and I'm not sure I'm smart enough to have figured it all out. While I felt like there was much more going on than I was actually This is a book chocked full of allegories and symbolism. I understood the basic duality of the tattoos - do labels make us into something we aren't or do they propel us to be something completely opposite. I also understood how labels give the world an idea of us before they really know anything else about us. But this book delved much deeper and much farther than that and I'm not sure I'm smart enough to have figured it all out. While I felt like there was much more going on than I was actually understanding it was a really great story. Maybe a tad wordy, but most definitely thought provoking and completely enjoyable. This is a story that will stick with you for a while. My thanks to the publisher for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
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  • Pnmp44yahoo.com
    June 22, 2017
    I wasn't quite sure what to expect from The Epiphany Machine having never read David Burr Gerard's work. The alternative US history, the premise of a machine that tattoos people and the ideas of fate versus self determinism are fascinating. I wondered throughout if this was a case of 'which came first? Did the tattoos influence the life choices or just outline what was to come no matter what?' And then how the tattoo was perceived in public.. the reaction, the labeling over a lifetime However, t I wasn't quite sure what to expect from The Epiphany Machine having never read David Burr Gerard's work. The alternative US history, the premise of a machine that tattoos people and the ideas of fate versus self determinism are fascinating. I wondered throughout if this was a case of 'which came first? Did the tattoos influence the life choices or just outline what was to come no matter what?' And then how the tattoo was perceived in public.. the reaction, the labeling over a lifetime However, the writing style was difficult for me to engage in. I found myself distracted or having to go back and make sure I didn't miss something when there was an abrupt jump. I would give this solid 3 stars for creativity and unique subject matter***Thank you to First To Read/Penguin Random House Advance Reader Copy for a chance to read this in exchange for an honest review***
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  • Leah
    July 10, 2017
    I received an advance copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest reviews. Opinions are always my own!Unfortunately, this book didn't resonate me. I have a personal rule that I'll read 50% of a book and if it still doesn't catch my interest then I abandon it. That was the case with The Epiphany Machine. I had a hard time following who the characters were because the timeline jumped around so often. The writing was very... unique? I'm not sure what word I want to I received an advance copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest reviews. Opinions are always my own!Unfortunately, this book didn't resonate me. I have a personal rule that I'll read 50% of a book and if it still doesn't catch my interest then I abandon it. That was the case with The Epiphany Machine. I had a hard time following who the characters were because the timeline jumped around so often. The writing was very... unique? I'm not sure what word I want to use here. I feel like this is either a love it or hate it type of book. The concept is intriguing, but the execution wasn't there for me, unfortunately.
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  • Tyler Wetherall
    June 29, 2017
    This is a completely gripping read, the author skillfully directing you from anger to sadness, to hope, to indignation, all at turns, as you follow the brilliantly bizarre world of Venter Lowood and his relationship to the Epiphany Machine. It's darkly funny throughout, landing that rare achievement for a book to make you laugh out loud; but it's the darkness that stays with you. Operating in territory close to home - New York in the wake of 9/11 dealing with the reality of global terrorism - it This is a completely gripping read, the author skillfully directing you from anger to sadness, to hope, to indignation, all at turns, as you follow the brilliantly bizarre world of Venter Lowood and his relationship to the Epiphany Machine. It's darkly funny throughout, landing that rare achievement for a book to make you laugh out loud; but it's the darkness that stays with you. Operating in territory close to home - New York in the wake of 9/11 dealing with the reality of global terrorism - it asks a pertinent question many of us would rather avoid: how complicit are we in the political crimes of our time?
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  • Sara Smith
    June 26, 2017
    I received a free ARC of this book through Goodreads Giveaways.The premise of the book really drew me in. I wondered, "is the machine really choosing what to say or is the operator controlling it?" There is a bit of back and forth in the book and it's not a fast or light read. People act differently because of the tattoos they receive from the Epiphany Machine or do they merely become more themselves after their truth is revealed? It's impossible to say. This was a different read and will likely I received a free ARC of this book through Goodreads Giveaways.The premise of the book really drew me in. I wondered, "is the machine really choosing what to say or is the operator controlling it?" There is a bit of back and forth in the book and it's not a fast or light read. People act differently because of the tattoos they receive from the Epiphany Machine or do they merely become more themselves after their truth is revealed? It's impossible to say. This was a different read and will likely stick with me for some time.
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  • Cheryl
    June 26, 2017
    Filing this under 'failure to engage' and 'no idea what to make of it'. Gave up after about 100 pages because I wasn't sure where the novel was going, what the point was, or, really, much of anything in the book other than the main character was probably just as clueless and lost as I was in his search for meaning and direction. Unlike the main character, I, thankfully, didn't have to remain clueless and lost.
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  • Helois
    July 10, 2017
    Going to have to file this one under did not finish. The premise of this book sounded interesting, but for me just did not deliver. I found it to be confusing and couldn't figure out what exactly the plot or story line was actually suppose to be. The characters were brief and seemed just as clueless as to what was going on as I was, especially the main character Venter. I gave up about 150 pages in.Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to review the book.
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  • Kandi Lopez
    July 22, 2017
    The epiphany Machine had an interesting storyline but once reading it I found myself not invested and was not a fan of the writing style of this particular book. The main character Venter was such a boring persona. I found myself wanting to DNF this book so many times due to the fact that the characters were meh.*Received this book in exchange for my honest review*
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  • Pooja
    July 2, 2017
    3.5 stars. Overall, this was engrossing, if confusing, read. I liked the concept of the epiphany machine and thought it was well developed, with the book excerpts and the testimonials. We never learn how it actually works, which in a way I thought was good as it wasn't really the point of the story - this seemed to be more about how words can define you and your life. The main protagonist, Wenter, spends most of his life going against his epiphany tattoo, and makes some terrible decisions in the 3.5 stars. Overall, this was engrossing, if confusing, read. I liked the concept of the epiphany machine and thought it was well developed, with the book excerpts and the testimonials. We never learn how it actually works, which in a way I thought was good as it wasn't really the point of the story - this seemed to be more about how words can define you and your life. The main protagonist, Wenter, spends most of his life going against his epiphany tattoo, and makes some terrible decisions in the process. There wasn't really a single character I felt invested in, but the light, somewhat sarcastic prose kept me absorbed in the story. Thanks Penguin for the advance copy!
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  • Stacey Fronczak
    July 2, 2017
    The epiphany machine is a device fashioned out of an old sewing machine that will tattoo a revelation about you in to your forearm. Many consider this to be part of a cult led by a very perceptive man, Adam Lyons. This unique tale follows a young boy named Venter, whose parents both received tattoos and had close relationships with Adam. The epiphany machine sculpts most of Venters life. Venters mother ABANDONS WHAT MATTERS MOST, abandoning her husband and infant son. His father SHOULD NEVER BEC The epiphany machine is a device fashioned out of an old sewing machine that will tattoo a revelation about you in to your forearm. Many consider this to be part of a cult led by a very perceptive man, Adam Lyons. This unique tale follows a young boy named Venter, whose parents both received tattoos and had close relationships with Adam. The epiphany machine sculpts most of Venters life. Venters mother ABANDONS WHAT MATTERS MOST, abandoning her husband and infant son. His father SHOULD NEVER BECOME A FATHER, remains distant from his son, buries himself in his work, and allows his mother in law to care for his son. On her deathbed his grandmother requests he get an epiphany tattoo after being strictly forbidden from even reading about them for most of his life. Venter is DEPENDENT ON THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS, and is quickly swept into Adam's cult like following. I loved the layout of this story. It alternates between Venters perspective to testimonial interviews he conducts on Adams behalf of his customers to chapters from a book another author wrote about the machine. Quite original. The storyline lagged about halfway through for me when Venter dates an unbearable women, Rebecca. I highly recommend this. Thanks to penguin ftr for the arc! I received a copy from Penguin's First to read program in exchange for a review.
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  • Jen
    June 4, 2017
    When someone tells you not to do something, chances are you'll stubbornly do the opposite, despite how illogical that might be. In David Burr Gerrard's The Epiphany Machine the phrases inked on people's arms often play a heavy hand in their future actions.To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.Venter Lowood's life has been irrefutably shaped by a machine that tattoos a vaguely specific epiphany on the forearms of each individual who uses i When someone tells you not to do something, chances are you'll stubbornly do the opposite, despite how illogical that might be. In David Burr Gerrard's The Epiphany Machine the phrases inked on people's arms often play a heavy hand in their future actions.To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.Venter Lowood's life has been irrefutably shaped by a machine that tattoos a vaguely specific epiphany on the forearms of each individual who uses it. His mother, who abandoned him when he was an infant, and his father, who told him never to go near or use the machine, both used the epiphany machine in their youth. Venter has conflicted feelings about the machine and how his epiphany might change his life's trajectory, but in using it, he becomes unexpectedly invested in it and the keeper of the epiphany machine, the eccentric Adam Lyons. Serving as a collector of stories of those who have used the machine and how it affected their lives, Venter plays a role in the machine's history and its potential future, with the government hoping that making epiphanies public could assist with civilian safety.While the premise of the story as an alternate history with a mystical element was highly intriguing, particularly as it offered a glimpse into the psyche of people and the conflicts they have with themselves, I found myself struggling to make progress through this slow-moving narrative, probably because practically nothing happens and what does happen didn't need to be drawn out as long as it was. If there wasn't going to be much in the way of developing a plot, then it would have been beneficial to have a complex, compelling character to follow, which we didn't have with Venter's annoying, constant self-doubting thoughts and timidly made actions; the various other characters' stories presented, while more interesting and insightful, were a bit jarringly disconnected from the rest of the narrative, despite being prefaced as testimonials.Overall, I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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  • Brian
    June 29, 2017
    This was a bizarre, thought-provoking, and unique book. Nor necessarily a fun read, but individually put. Through the interwoven stories and lives in the book the it's very little that is black and white, there's little attempt to have a clearly good character that you always root for. The book could be a commentary on many things today, it could just be an interesting, slightly fantastical tale, but what impressed me most was the humanity of the flawed characters. The processes they go through This was a bizarre, thought-provoking, and unique book. Nor necessarily a fun read, but individually put. Through the interwoven stories and lives in the book the it's very little that is black and white, there's little attempt to have a clearly good character that you always root for. The book could be a commentary on many things today, it could just be an interesting, slightly fantastical tale, but what impressed me most was the humanity of the flawed characters. The processes they go through in their lives and in their heads to make the choices and rationalizations that they do feel more accurate than how I justify some of my own choices, the veil of fake honesty gets completely exposed here and it makes the worth all the cringes and head shakes
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  • Cheyenne
    May 29, 2017
    2.5 stars. This book didn't really have anything happen in it. When things did actually happen it left a lot of unanswered questions. We don't know if Adam was a fraud or not. If the machine actually worked. Where it came from. If it had divine power. The main character, Venter, was a useless and as bland as a character could be. He gets his friend arrested and then it's 150 pages of going back and fourth on if he did the right thing. Or if his friend really is innocent. By the way the friend WA 2.5 stars. This book didn't really have anything happen in it. When things did actually happen it left a lot of unanswered questions. We don't know if Adam was a fraud or not. If the machine actually worked. Where it came from. If it had divine power. The main character, Venter, was a useless and as bland as a character could be. He gets his friend arrested and then it's 150 pages of going back and fourth on if he did the right thing. Or if his friend really is innocent. By the way the friend WAS innocent. And he just never gets out of jail, totally glosses over that at the end. Because we have a big wedding to go to, Venter is marrying this girl that I don't think he even likes. Like honestly all they do is fuck and argue. That's it. But yay! She's pregnant and everything is going to be great. Oh yeah except that innocent man in jail that they did literally nothing to help rectify the situation.
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  • G
    March 30, 2017
    I loved this incredibly thoughtful and darkly funny novel. It will get you thinking about what epiphanies you and your friends might receive, and whether that would change the way you shape your identities and change the way you shape the world around you. If you like shows like The Twilight Zone and The Handmaid's Tale, then you should add The Epiphany Machine to your reading list!
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