Plot: The New Manifesto assumes readers approach the story informed, as if knowledge is willed and experiences are only as palpable as the words that define them. Time loses all form and becomes an invented, immaterial fabric of reality. The narrator’s travels and successes shift with transience, where impermanent things hold lasting effects. Ernst’s novel queries absolute truth—a world where imagination is the illusory precursor to reality.
Prose: A philosophical skepticism is inseparable from the prose. The New Manifesto is told through a voice which is unestablished and unsure of itself. This voice meanders, disappears, and resurfaces, leaving the reader a heap of unscrambled words that have no right to pair together so peacefully.
Originality: In a book about a book, Ernst chooses to title his novel after a fabricated text, attaching his own, true New Manifesto to a sliver of nonexistence. With a playful guile, Ernst describes himself as his narrator’s editor and mocks the role of the author—as if he is the uncredited inventor of his three-tiered world. The ending, which uses second-person perspective and makes the reader an active participant, perfectly ties the chaos together like a maze—returning to the same spots and unable to escape the words on the page. The reader makes different choices, yet all outcomes parallel each other, as if to say the human mind is one’s biggest obstacle.
Character Development: Halfway through the book, the narrator segues into fictionalized academia. A mix of environmental and ecological science sometimes strips the sensation of weightlessness, but the pedantic moments ground the story like anchors that tie the plot to real life.
Blurb: This is a book that reveres visual imagery, while challenging what the eye perceives. Ernst’s complexity muddles the mind so readers grasp for the concrete—the simple—but in those moments of filtering through the disorder, exists a tale that is beautifully human.
Date Submitted: April 01, 2021
"You will never read a book quite like Sam Ernst’s experimental novel The New Manifesto, whose wildly creative, careening story defies expectations...Is The New Manifesto a statement about post-modernist fiction, the unifying voice of the narrator, or the power of subverting expectations? The reader is left to puzzle it out, guided by a text that’s both inventive and challenging."