Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Girl Imagined By Chance

Girl Imagined by Chance
by Lance Olsen

2002. 328 pp.
Price: $13.95


Girl Imagined by Chance is a critifictional novel about a couple who, in an unguarded moment, find themselves having created a make-believe daughter (and soon a make-believe life to accompany her) in order to appease their friends, family, and, ultimately, the culture of reproduction. Structured around twelve photographs, a single roll of film, Girl explores the nature of photography and the questions that nature raises about the notions of the simulated and the real, the media-ization of consciousness, originality, self-construction, and the way we all continually fashion our faces into masks for the next shot.

At its heart, Girl Imagined by Chance investigates the mystery of self-knowledge. Its prevailing metaphor and structural device, the photograph, examines the way images, in their magical ability to mimic memory, ultimately mock and eradicate it. The individual past, seemingly stable and fixed, turns out to be as protean and unknowable as the future, and the body becomes strangely dispensable, perpetually adrift in a cybernetic world of hyperlinks and interfaces. If Jean Baudrilard, Hélèn Cixous, and Clarice Lispector had collaborated on a novel, Girl Imagined by Chance would be the result.


"Lance Olsen has composed a spare parable of respresentation and self, the loss of the real and the reality of loss. Girl Imagined by Chance is smart and moving and elegant, its seemingly offhand scenes as effortlessly poignant as a handful of old snapshots." —Shelley Jackson

"This play between image/text and fiction/criticism leaves both Olsen and his narrator on deliberately shaky ground, and it's precisely this tension which saves the novel from becoming another by-product of the Oprah-ization of literary fiction in the United States."—Portland Mercury

"Girl Imagined by Chance is a fast-paced, hysterical sitcom for thinking readers."—Rain Taxi

"Olsen tells this rather simple story in a sparse prose that belies a complexity that bewilders, provokes, and intentionally confuses....Olsen's knowledge of photography, philosophy, and the intricacies of cyberspace is impressive, and he is a master of his craft."—American Book Review

"This quietly powerful book reads like a blend of the work of Italo Calvino and Michael Blumlein."—Asimov's

"[Girl Imagined by Chance] is an absorbing and meditative work that explores modern identity and media-driven social customs....This new, mysterious tale finds the author using sparse and beautiful prose to investigate perception, selfhood and the culture of reproduction."
Willamette Week Online