The Ocean Container is the story of an environmental activist in a North American petro-state. Labeled an “economic terrorist”, he takes hiding in a shipping container, in a compound for vagrants and the unemployed. There he meets charity providers, other dissidents in hiding, and a theatrical company attracting tourists with Edo: Pleasure District in the 21st Century (quite possibly a front for prostitution). Contraband exotic species – a tapir and a white peafowl – are set loose as communal pets, and someone with two right eyes seems to be stalking him. Fearful of the outside, the “terrorist” isolates himself inside his container, where the division between imagination and external reality is fatally blurred.
Endorsements / Reviews
The Ocean Container is a challenging book, if by “challenging” we mean unexpected, surprising, and uncomfortable. It is a novel that bears up under—even demands—multiple readings. For example, readers may not agree on the meaning of the super-pygmy-blue whale or the man with two right eyes or the Rocky Mountain tour busses with no windows. The book lends itself to multiple interpretations and open-ended conversations in a way that commercial fiction too often does not. Ideally, this provocative novel will make its way into many eco-lit classrooms where it can inspire crucial conversations, the kinds that lead to action. [Read full review here.]
Angie Abdou (author, Home Ice)
In this organically original corrugated collage of a lyric novel, The Ocean Container, Patrik Sampler has created a perfect vehicle to animate the great static drama between sustainable stasis and voracious mobility by not-so-simply sitting down and paying attention to the obscene traffic of our disintegrating world. The Ocean Container, a bounded space that contains multitudes, isn’t dystopic exactly but exact in its exacting observation of the apocalyptic bias found in the immediate. Not the future as much as the next awful now. This near-future meditation reads like a documentary and a diary, recording our ongoing witless destruction of the world, not with a bang but an ecstatic whimper. Sampler reinvigorates for me Thomas Kuhn’s now glossed notion of the paradigm shift. The Ocean Container is an elegant depiction of the minute and minute-by-minute tectonic decay and depletion of the half-lives of our halved lives. This gorgeous lament is our Wasteland and our own manifest destiny made manifest.
Michael Martone (author, Four for a Quarter)
Sampler has, among other talents, the comic sensibilities of Kurt Vonnnegut and the poet’s heart of Icelandic writer Sjon. Which is not to say that his work is derivative, oh no. The Ocean Container is its own beast, dense and hallucinatory, dark and visceral. A reader who submits to its surreal charms might find himself in a dream-like state. And, as in a dream, imagery is paramount to the narrative. A certain amount of decoding is required. But the payoff—the solution to this puzzle Sampler has created for us— will delight and satisfy.
Carleigh Baker (author, Bad Endings)
This is a small jewel of a book, glittering with many facets. One facet is speculative fiction: it’s set in the near future (or possibly a slightly alternative present) where surveillance capitalism and ecological disaster bite ever more deeply. Another is satire: its take on politics, charity and NGOs is sly and pitiless. But above all it’s wistful, poetic, lyrically erotic, and full of Surrealist optimism and hope.
Merl Fluin (author, The Golden Cut)
The suspicion is that Patrik Sampler is deliberately messing with us. But that’s okay, because it’s clear he’s messing with himself as well. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t even survive his own novel. Welcome to the future, I guess. If the Big Earthquake doesn’t get you, a slip of the pen just might.
Bill Mullan (radio host and screenwriter, Terminal City Ricochet)
I found this to be one of the most poignant treatments of the implications of the environmental crises from the geopolitical level to the ultimate personal level (of one’s own container). It’s so beautifully written and ultimately about human resilience. I highly recommend it.
Sylvia Torti (author, Cages)
[The Ocean Container is an] erotic-satiric treatment of a country totally devoted to capitalism and consumerism… [It tells us] something crucial about the human condition and the undeniable necessity to find one’s own deep self.
Maurizio Brancaleoni (writer and translator)
2015 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest
Published by Ninebark Press
Cover design credit
Feature image credit
The Ocean Container whale tale collage by Steven Cline
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Where can you purchase a copy?
The Ocean Container is currently available at a variety of online retailers, a number of bookstores, and directly from the author. Click HERE for details. Email sampler[at]telus.net to enquire about discounts on multiple copies.