The Epiphany Machine


David Burr Gerrard


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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