Upcoming Event

John Darnielle

reads from

Universal Harvester:
A Novel

Online pre-sales (ticket + book) on sale January 3
$5 tickets on sale January 17 at 9am

This event includes a book signing


February 8, 2017
6:00 PM
(Doors at 5:30)


Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138


$26.25 (online only, book-included) - On Sale January 3, 2017 $5 - On Sale January 17, 2017

Harvard Book Store welcomes bestselling author of Wolf in White Van JOHN DARNIELLE—writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats—for a reading from his latest novel, Universal Harvester.

About Universal Harvester

Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut.

Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa—a small town in the center of the state, the first “a” in Nevada pronounced “ay.” This is the late 1990s, and while the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: It’s a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.

But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store—she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns She’s All That, a new release, and complains that there’s something wrong with it: “There’s another movie on this tape.”

Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious. But he takes a look and, indeed, in the middle of the movie the screen blinks dark for a moment and She’s All That is replaced by a black-and-white scene, shot in a barn, with only the faint sounds of someone breathing. Four minutes later, She’s All That is back. But there is something profoundly unsettling about that scene; Jeremy’s compelled to watch it three or four times. The scenes recorded onto Targets are similar, undoubtedly created by the same hand. Creepy. And the barn looks much like a barn just outside of town.There will be no ignoring the disturbing scenes on the videos. And all of a sudden, what had once been the placid, regular old Iowa fields and farmhouses now feels haunted and threatening, imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. For Jeremy, and all those around him, life will never be the same . . .

Film Screening

The Brattle Theatre will screen Peter Bogdanovich's Targets—featured prominently in Universal Harvester—after our event and signing with the author. This screening will be ticketed separately, through the Brattle Theatre, and will feature a special introduction by John Darnielle. Early arrivers to the screening will have the opportunity to purchase copies of the book and get them signed.

Stay tuned to brattlefilm.org for film screening tickets.

John Darnielle
John Darnielle

John Darnielle

John Darnielle’s first novel, Wolf in White Van, was a New York Times bestseller, a National Book Award nominee, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction, and was widely hailed as one of the best novels of the year. He is the writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and sons.

Photo credit: Brandon Eggleston

All pre-sales tickets include a copy of Universal Harvester, admission into the event, and a $5 coupon for use in the bookstore. Pre-sales tickets (online only) are available for two weeks, after which a $5 ticket option will also go on sale. Books bundled with pre-sale tickets may only be picked up at the venue the night of the event, and cannot be picked up in-store beforehand.

$5 tickets will also be available at Harvard Book Store and over the phone at 617-661-1515. Unless the event is sold out, any remaining tickets will be on sale at the door of the venue when doors open.

Tickets are non-refundable and non-returnable.

Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 10 minutes

As you exit the station, cross Mass. Ave. and look for the newsstand Crimson Corner on the right side of the street and Curious George book shop on the left side of the street. Keeping the newsstand to your right, proceed along Brattle St. (you will pass the restaurant Tory Row). Follow Brattle St. as it curves to the right in Brattle Square (follow the sidewalk on the right side of the street). The Brattle will be on the left-hand side of the street. The building is shared with Algiers Cafe and Alden & Harlow Restaurant, and the theatre entrance is on the left side of the building—look for the sidewalk poster case and marquee.

Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.

While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.

Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:

  • Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
  • Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
  • Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.

Ordering a signed book by phone:

  • Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
  • If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.


Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.

Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!

Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.

I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.

More questions? Give us a call!

Purchase the Book
Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
General Info
(617) 661-1515

Media Inquiries
(617) 661-1424 x6

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