Icarus Transfigured: A Memoir / Novel by Michael Lowell Teague


The Plot: Aloysius Archibald Gauge is a reclusive man who understands himself in debilitating detail, yet relates to the world outside his door through social logic gleaned from old movies. His house is his sanctuary until he comes to believe a terrifying and beautiful angel has invaded it. Lacking corporeal form, this entity assumes the guise of memories: both real remembrances and those borrowed and refashioned from cinema.

Aloysius is resolved to escape the labyrinth and the monster that has come to haunt it, yet he is torn for how to proceed. The advice of his philosophizing friend gets around the obstacle of his overly rational mind, while the advice of a mysterious woman circumvents the inhibitions of his “barely owned” body. Without knowing the true identity of his specter, the protagonist must choose which friend to follow, and no matter where his journey to self-discovery begins, his quest is the same as Biblical Jacob: He must wrestle his fiery angel to secure a blessing from a curse, and in so doing find the meaning of his life.

Aloysius Gauge is afflicted with a mild, undiagnosed form of autism, and the reader comes to know his predicament through his story: one not intended to conceal his true life but rather, to reveal how his life requires a kind of fiction to be understood.

 Eye of Horse Icarus Transfigured

Table of Contents:

         Part One: Spyglass Darkly House

Title Page and Dedication

Prologue (A Sleep) 1, (A Forgetting) 1, (A Coming from Afar) 1

Chapter One (Heaven and Hell): 12

Chapter Two (The Labyrinth): 123

Chapter Three (Stonesthrow): 12

Chapter Four (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Part 1): 12

Chapter Five (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Part 2): 12

Chapter Six (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Part 3): 12, 3

Chapter Seven (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Part 4): 12

         Part Two: The Idée Fixe

Chapter Eight (Chaos): 12

Chapter Nine (The Dancing Star, Part 1): 123

Chapter Ten (The Dancing Star, Part 2): 12

Chapter Eleven (A Visitation): 12

Chapter Twelve (The Persistence of Memory): 12

Chapter Thirteen (The Ghost in the Machine, Part 1): 12

Chapter Fourteen (The Ghost in the Machine, Part 2): 123

         Part Three: The Blind Man

Chapter Fifteen (The Blind Man, Part 1): 12

Chapter Sixteen (The Blind Man, Part 2): 12

Chapter Seventeen (Invasion of the Body Snatcher) 1234

Chapter Eighteen (In-Betweenness) 123

Chapter Nineteen (The Unsayable, Part 1) 123

Chapter Twenty (The Unsayable, Part 2) 12

         Part Four: The Doppelgänger

Chapter Twenty-one (The Haunted Ruin) 12

Chapter Twenty-two (The Doppelgänger) 12

Chapter Twenty-three (The Bug Collector) 1234

Chapter Twenty-four (The Child, Part 1) 12

Chapter Twenty-five (The Child, Part 2) 123

         Part Five: Intangible Gift

Chapter Twenty-six (Infinity) 1

Chapter Twenty-seven (Paradox) 1

Chapter Twenty-eight (The Sublime) 123

Chapter Twenty-nine (The Black Box) 1

Chapter Thirty (The Object Lesson) 1234

Chapter Thirty-one (Deus Ex Machina) 1

Chapter Thirty-two (The Day of Eternal Noon) 12

Epilogue (The Unknowable Thing-in-Itself) 1,  (The Balance of Memory) 1

Icarus Angel Ladder

Book Excerpts: "It was like him to fall in love with the lead actress and watch a film repeatedly without cessation. His gushing heart would be uncritical in its initial praise, and only with over-familiarity would his eye wander off-script into peripheral details the filmmaker never intended for scrutiny. The fantasy, from there, unraveled from the inside out, beginning innocently when an untouched water pitcher was noticed changing sides on a table during a conversation, and then onto the late discovery of a subtle tic in the actress’ facial mannerisms. Eventually it came down to reading the lips of background characters, and finally spying the one guy in the crowd looking directly into the camera and mumbling, “I am the devil.” By then, he was watching an entirely different movie: a movie so painfully familiar it was completely alien." ~from Chapter Twenty-two


Start date for manuscript: late October 2003

Unofficial finish date for manuscript and art: late December 2007

January 2011: Title Change (from An Aversion to Ladders)

March 2012 through 2016: Late Rounds of Edits

2018 Edits: I have always assumed that as a book nears its completion, the process is mostly a subtractive one. During July and August I re-proofed my novel and trimmed 40 pages off its 555-page length. Much of what I removed was of a self-indulgent nature, or autobiographical material I thought relevant at the time. Excess adverbs made up a chunk of the remainder. More notes on this process may be found here.

Picture of author

About Author: Michael Lowell Teague is best known for his alternative comics, which appeared in anthologies such as Zero Zero and Blurred Vision. He won a Xeric Award in 1999 for his self-published comic book, Epic Dermis. His comic strip, Blender Kitty, was regularly seen in The New York Press between 2001 and 2003.

Why I am publishing my book on a website: My creative life divides naturally between acts of mimicry and abstruseness. Resultantly. every reinvention of myself (composer, painter, cartoonist, writer…) has been marked by the same predicament: I am too avant-garde to be mainstream, and too mainstream to be avant-garde. In a world where success depends on how well you meet an expectation, I am seen as being too conventional by one set of gatekeepers, and too different by another. (By any thoughtful inspection I am my own thing.)

Ongoing editing as late as 2018 has bolstered my belief that Icarus Transfigured continues to be a living document. Real-time “improvements” are one of the luxuries web publishing affords the writer over the printed page. Indeed, writing as an art, for me, is only possible because of the computer.

Comments are welcomed and can be sent to me at: mlteague@mlteague.com

~the author, Michael Lowell Teague

Notes on A Future Novel: In the years since the completion of my first book, I wrote a primer on God, metaphysics, and science. This philosophical treatise was abandoned, although I have cannibalized much of it for the new project, as I prefer writing stories.

In 2009 I started composing music again after several decades of inactivity, and this creative venture monopolized most of my time in 2009 and 2010. However, after my father passed away in February 2010, I quietly returned to my book notes in a small way; and by the time my mother passed away in September of 2013, those notes had become chapters in a titleless book. Medical issues have dominated my life since 2015, and slowed progress on this new novel significantly. Things have picked up in 2018, but the project is still years from completion.

The new novel will be compared to Icarus Transfigured in many respects, and thematically it may be thought of as a continuation. It is far less populated with characters, and is mostly a meditation on grief, loss, and incorporeal realities. Over sixty excerpts from this novel can be read among my musical composition pages, beginning in 2012 and running in reverse chronological order through 2009.