The TNB Book Club

Available from Anchor

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“Meghan O’Gieblyn’s deep and searching essays are written with a precise sort of skepticism and a slight ache in the heart. A first-rate and riveting collection.” –Lorrie Moore

A fresh, acute, and even profound collection that centers around two core (and related) issues of American identity: faith, in general and the specific forms Christianity takes in particular; and the challenges of living in the Midwest when culture is felt to be elsewhere.

What does it mean to be a believing Christian and a Midwesterner in an increasingly secular America where the cultural capital is retreating to both coasts? The critic and essayist Meghan O’Gieblyn was born into an evangelical family, attended the famed Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for a time before she had a crisis of belief, and still lives in the Midwest, aka “Flyover Country.” She writes of her “existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still,” and that rich sense of ambivalence and internal division inform the fifteen superbly thoughtful and ironic essays in this collection. The subjects of these essays range from the rebranding (as it were) of Hell in contemporary Christian culture (“Hell”), a theme park devoted to the concept of intelligent design (“Species of Origin”), the paradoxes of Christian Rock (“Sniffing Glue”), Henry Ford’s reconstructed pioneer town of Greenfield Village and its mixed messages (“Midwest World”), and the strange convergences of Christian eschatology and the digital so-called Singularity (“Ghosts in the Cloud”). Meghan O’Gieblyn stands in relation to her native Midwest as Joan Didion stands in relation to California – which is to say a whole-hearted lover, albeit one riven with ambivalence at the same time.

Available from St. Martin’s Press

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“A beautifully written, unnerving tragedy woven from equal measures of hope and menace.” —Booklist (starred review)

Camden, NJ, 1948. When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute―unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

Based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocked the nation and inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita, this heart-pounding story by award-winning author T. Greenwood at last gives a voice to Sally herself.

 

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Circa is a dark comedy featuring Henry Colmes, a high school sophomore trying to find his place in school and life. In alternating chapters, it is also the story of Henry as a thirty-something cub reporter trying to track down an elusive cult leader in order to interview him for the man’s own obituary.

Alluding to the timelessness of tragedy, Circaoffers an examination of our collective desperation for meaningful context in which to place and rationalize the actions we take.

At once heartfelt, tragic, and surreal, Circa, the debut novel from author Adam Greenfield, looks at the pivotal moments in a person’s life that lead them to make the decisions they can never take back and, ultimately, never forget.

Available from Harper

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“Goolrick’s best book yet. A brilliant mashup of all the old greats, Faulkner and Fitzgerald and DH Lawrence, The Dying of the Light reads like Absolom, Absolom! meets The Great Gatsby meets Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” —Philipp Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of The Son

From the author of the bestselling A Reliable Wife comes a dramatic, passionate tale of a glamorous Southern debutante who marries for money and ultimately suffers for love—a southern gothic as written by Dominick Dunne.

It begins with a house and ends in ashes . . .

Diana Cooke was “born with the century” and came of age just after World War I. The daughter of Virginia gentry, she knew early that her parents had only one asset, besides her famous beauty: their stately house, Saratoga, the largest in the commonwealth, which has hosted the crème of society and Hollywood royalty. Though they are land-rich, the Cookes do not have the means to sustain the estate. Without a wealthy husband, Diana will lose the mansion that has been the heart and soul of her family for five generations.

The mysterious Captain Copperton is an outsider with no bloodline but plenty of cash. Seeing the ravishing nineteen-year-old Diana for the first time, he’s determined to have her. Diana knows that marrying him would make the Cookes solvent and ensure that Saratoga will always be theirs. Yet Copperton is cruel as well as vulgar; while she admires his money, she cannot abide him. Carrying the weight of Saratoga and generations of Cookes on her shoulders, she ultimately succumbs to duty, sacrificing everything, including love.

Luckily for Diana, fate intervenes. Her union with Copperton is brief and gives her a son she adores. But when her handsome, charming Ashton, now grown, returns to Saratoga with his college roommate, the real scandal and tragedy begins.

Reveling in the secrets, mores, and society of twentieth-century genteel Southern life, The Dying of the Light is a romance, a melodrama, and a cautionary tale told with the grandeur and sweep of an epic Hollywood classic.

Available from Holt Paperbacks

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“I had a real romance with this book.” —Miranda July

A highly anticipated collection, from the writer Maggie Nelson has called, “bracingly good…refreshing and welcome,” that explores the myriad ways in which desire and commodification intersect.

From graffiti gangs and Grand Theft Auto to sugar daddies, Schopenhauer, and a deadly game of Russian roulette, in these essays, Chelsea Hodson probes her own desires to examine where the physical and the proprietary collide. She asks what our privacy, our intimacy, and our own bodies are worth in the increasingly digital world of liking, linking, and sharing.

Starting with Hodson’s own work experience, which ranges from the mundane to the bizarre―including modeling and working on a NASA Mars mission― Hodson expands outward, looking at the ways in which the human will submits, whether in the marketplace or in a relationship. Both tender and jarring, this collection is relevant to anyone who’s ever searched for what the self is worth.

Hodson’s accumulation within each piece is purposeful, and her prose vivid, clear, and sometimes even shocking, as she explores the wonderful and strange forms of desire. Tonight I’m Someone Else is a fresh, poetic debut from an exciting emerging voice, in which Hodson asks, “How much can a body endure?” And the resounding answer: “Almost everything.”

Available from Vintage Books

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Trip is not only a book about drugs–it’s about the condition of humans at this point in history, troublingly divorced from our natural capacity for awe by our chemically depleted bodies and minds. This book has changed how I understand myself on a cellular level. It’s a superbly researched, moving, and formally inventive quest for re-enchantment, and Tao Lin’s most compelling and profound book yet.” —Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

Part memoir, part history, part journalistic exposé, Trip is a look at psychedelic drugs, literature, and alienation from one of the twenty-first century’s most innovative novelists–The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for a new generation. A Vintage Original.

While isolating himself to work on his novel Taipei, Tao Lin discovered the prolific work of Terence McKenna–the leading advocate of psychotropic drugs since Timothy Leary. Tao became obsessed with McKenna, whose worldview (and particular theory of drug use) seemed to present an alternate way of being. In Trip, Tao’s first ever book-length work of nonfiction, he explores parallels between McKenna’s life and his own in a far-reaching search for answers to looming questions: Why do we make art? What is language for? And are there essential, universal truths out there, beyond our limited range of perception?

Trip takes readers on a trip through psychedelic culture, from D.A.R.E. to Aldous Huxley, from NYU’s Bobst Library to a plant-drawing class in Santa Rosa, California. Drawing on first-person exploratory journalism as well as in-depth research, Tao details the experience of taking psilocybin, DMT, and cannabis, studies their chemical composure and legality, and ends his story with a pilgrimage out West, where he communes with McKenna’s ex-wife and fellow “ethnobotanist,” Kathleen Harrison.

Available from Dzanc Books

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“Nash writes with psychological precision, capturing Lilith’s volatile shifts between directionless frustration, self-destructiveness, ambivalence, and vulnerable need. A complex, impressive exploration of obsession and desire.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

In this stunning debut, a girl with no name embarks on a fraught three-way relationship with Matt, a Satanist and a tattoo artist, and his girlfriend Frances, a new mom. The liaison is caged by strict rules and rigid emotional distance. Nonetheless, it’s all too easy to surrender to an attraction so powerful she finds herself erased, abandoning even her own name in favor of a new one: Lilith.

As Lilith grows closer to Matt, she begins to recognize the dark undertow of obsession and jealousy that her presence has created between Matt and Frances, and finds herself balancing on a knife’s edge between pain and pleasure, the promise of the future and the crushing isolation of the present. With stripped-down prose and unflinching clarity, Nash examines madness in the wreckage of love, and the loss of self that accompanies it.

Available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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“There’s something really radical about this epic and ecstatic quest. It’s in the tradition of Cervantes’ ingenious nobleman, but also deeply in conversation with Borges’s Pierre Menard and Kathy Acker’s own Don Quixote. The young female narrator of Call Me Zebra luxuriates in the tradition of Enrique Vila-Matas’s literary sickness, or Kafka writing that he is made entirely of literature. A hilarious picaresque, perverse and voracious.”  –Kate Zambreno, author of Heroines and Green Girl

From an award-winning young author, a feisty heroine’s quest to reclaim her past through the power of literature—even as she navigates the murkier mysteries of love.

Zebra is the last in a line of anarchists, atheists, and autodidacts. When war came, her family didn’t fight; they took refuge in books. Now alone and in exile, Zebra leaves New York for Barcelona, retracing the journey she and her father made from Iran to the United States years ago.

Books are Zebra’s only companions—until she meets Ludo. Their connection is magnetic; their time together fraught. Zebra overwhelms him with her complex literary theories, her concern with death, and her obsession with history. He thinks she’s unhinged; she thinks he’s pedantic. Neither are wrong; neither can let the other go. They push and pull their way across the Mediterranean, wondering with each turn if their love, or lust, can free Zebra from her past.

An adventure tale, a love story, and a paean to the power of language and literature starring a heroine as quirky as Don Quixote, as introspective as Virginia Woolf, as whip-smart as Miranda July, and as spirited as Frances Ha, Call Me Zebra will establish Van der Vliet Oloomi as an author “on the verge of developing a whole new literature movement” (Bustle).

Available from Harper Perennial

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Don’t Skip Out On Me is going to make your heart crumple into a little wad of paper and then open it back up into a perfect paper airplane sailing the skies from the hand of a boy. How does a bi-cultural man find a self when he’s been abandoned by his parents? He invents it, that’s how, with his hands, his fists, and that fist-shaped muscle, a heart. No one anywhere writes as beautifully about people whose stories stay close to the dirt. Willy Vlautin is a secular—and thus real and profoundly useful—saint.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

From Willy Vlautin,  award-winning author of Lean on Pete and The Motel Life, comes a powerful exploration of identity and loneliness pulled from deep within America’s soul.

Horace Hopper has spent most of his life on a Nevada sheep ranch, but dreams of something bigger. Mr. and Mrs. Reese, the aging ranchers, took him in and treated him like a son, intending to leave the ranch in his hands. But Horace, ashamed not only of his half-Paiute, half-Irish heritage, but also of the fact his parents did not want him, feels as if he doesn’t belong on the ranch, or anywhere. Knowing he needs to make a name for himself, he decides to leave the only loving home he’s known to prove his worth as a championship boxer.

Mr. Reese is holding on to a way of life that is no longer sustainable. He’s a seventy-two-year-old rancher with a bad back. He’s not sure how he’ll keep things going without Horace but he knows the boy must find his own way.

To become a champion Horace must change not just the way he eats, trains, and thinks, but who he is. Reinventing himself as Hector Hildago, a scrappy Mexican boxer, he heads to Tucson and begins training and entering fights. His journey brings him to boxing rings across the Southwest and Mexico and finally, to the streets of Las Vegas, where Horace learns he can’t change who he is or outrun his destiny.

A beautiful, wrenching portrait of a downtrodden man, Don’t Skip Out on Menarrates the struggle to find one’s place in a vast and lonely world with profound tenderness, and will make you consider those around you—and yourself—differently.

Available from Tyrant Books

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“An explosive road novel.”  –Vanity Fair

Jelonnek, blue-collar Midwesterner, trapped in a life he is almost sure he wants to escape. Driven by “a great thirst and a great fear of what he thirsted for,” he makes the first real choice of his life when a simple errand to a convenience store escalates into a terrifying encounter.

He finds himself on a cross-country odyssey with a woman he barely knows and her young daughter, in search of escape and a second act. They find shelter and a safe distance at the edge of the country and community, only to be besieged by threats from the outside and, finally, from within. A descent into paranoia, nascent violence and sexuality ensues, culminating in a one-man Armageddon and an aftermath as hopeful as it is horrifying.

Set in a volatile, early-90s landscape of apocalyptic race riots and ethnic cleansing, Firework confronts its subject with an unblinking candor all too rare in contemporary American fiction, pushing the boundaries of political correctness to speak even more eloquently to our current historical moment.

Available from Dzanc Books

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This Book Is Not For You introduces the world to Neptune―a self-destructive and overly self-aware hero for our times. Neptune’s misadventures are funny, harrowing, thrilling, and sweet, and the novel’s recurring Chapter Ones give a fresh start to the story on each page. Neptune’s bad decisions might make you cringe, but you’ll cheer for him…. An exciting and inventive novel.”  –Craig Finn of The Hold Steady

Utilizing an innovative mashup of genres, ranging from pulp fiction, dark comedy, and metafiction, This Book Is Not for You charts the actions of nineteen-year-old Neptune, a misfit and punk haunted by the death of his parents. Having fallen in with an anarchist group determined to blow up a university building, he steals the dynamite instead, igniting an entirely different brand of trouble: the murder of his mentor; a three-way manhunt; and the mystery of the Ghost Machine, a walkman that replays snippets from his own twisted past. Told in a nonstop chain of Chapter Ones, Daniel A. Hoyt’s debut novel explores the clash between chaos and calm, the instinct for self-destruction and the longing for redemption.

Available from Dzanc Books

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“Gritty, ghostly, poetic [. . .] I’d bet a fifth of the top-shelf stuff it will be considered one of the best debuts of the year.” –Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table

Jordan is a country musician living in the shadow of his father, legendary bluegrass musician Walker Bayne. A man who has made a lifetime of poor decisions, Jordan bounces between dive bars, accruing women and drinking himself to the brink of disaster.

When he returns home to the Ozarks for his twin brother’s wedding, Jordan uncovers a dark vein in the Bayne family history: going back to the end of the Civil War, every generation of Bayne men have been twins―and one twin has always murdered their father.

As old tensions resurface and Jordan searches for a way to escape his family’s legacy, a mysterious hill dweller and his grotesque partner stalk the brothers’ every move, determined to see the curse through to its end. Praised by Donald Ray Pollock as “one of the best debuts of the year,” Middleton establishes himself as a novelist in good company with Brian Panowich and Smith Henderson, yet in a category all his own.

Available from Eamon Dolan

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What’s really happening behind closed doors on America’s college campuses?

“With rigorous reporting, brilliant observations and a rare absence of bias, Grigoriadis has written a fascinating and moreover an important book about a complex, controversial phenomenon. Blurred Lines is poised to become the definitive work about sex, consent, and campus life in our era.” —Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion.

A new sexual revolution is sweeping the country, and college students are on the front lines. Women use fresh, smart methods to fight entrenched sexism and sexual assault even as they celebrate their own sexuality as never before. Many “woke” male students are more sensitive to women’s concerns than previous generations ever were, while other men perpetuate the most cruel misogyny. Amid such apparent contradictions, it’s no surprise that intense confusion shrouds the topic of sex on campus.

Vanessa Grigoriadis dispels that confusion as no other writer could by traveling to schools large and small, embedding in their social whirl, and talking candidly with dozens of students – among them, both accusers and accused– as well as administrators, parents, and researchers. Her unprecedented investigation presents a host of new truths. She reveals which times and settings are most dangerous for women (for instance, beware the “red zone”); she demystifies the welter of conflicting statistics about the prevalence of campus rape; she makes a strong case that not all “sexual assault” is equivalent; and she offers convincing if controversial advice on how schools, students, and parents can make college a safer, richer experience. The sum of her fascinating, fly-on-the-wall reportage is a revelatory account of how long-standing rules of sex and power are being rewritten from scratch.

Available from Viking

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An ambitious new novel set in the literary world of 1970s New York, following a washed-up writer in an errant quest to pick up the pieces of his life.

One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2017 and BuzzFeed’s Exciting New Books You Need To Read This Summer

“With his second book, Gilvarry establishes himself as a writer who defies expectation, convention and categorization. Eastman Was Here is a dark, riotously funny and audacious exploration of the sacred and the profane—and pretty much everything in between.” —Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

The year is 1973, and Alan Eastman, a public intellectual, accidental cultural critic, washed-up war journalist, husband, and philanderer; finds himself alone on the floor of his study in an existential crisis. His wife has taken their kids and left him to live with her mother in New Jersey, and his best work feels as though it is years behind him. In the depths of despair, he receives an unexpected and unwelcome phone call from his old rival dating back to his days on the Harvard literary journal, offering him the chance to go to Vietnam to write the definitive account of the end of America’s longest war. Seeing his opportunity to regain his wife’s love and admiration while reclaiming his former literary glory, he sets out for Vietnam. But instead of the return to form as a pioneering war correspondent that he had hoped for, he finds himself in Saigon, grappling with the same problems he thought he’d left back in New York.

Following his widely acclaimed debut, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, Alex Gilvarry employs the same thoughtful, yet dark sense of humor in Eastman Was Here to capture one irredeemable man’s search for meaning in the face of advancing age, fading love, and a rapidly-changing world.

Available from Picador

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“Looking for a voice-of-their-generation type writer? No pressure or anything, but BuzzFeed writer Scaachi Koul might fit the bill. Drawing comparisons to Mindy Kaling and Roxane Gay, Koul is a voice for outsiders, children of immigrants and just about any other millennial trying to make their way in today’s perplexing world with this entertaining and thought-provoking collection of essays.” –Rolling Stone

A DEBUT COLLECTION OF FIERCE, FUNNY ESSAYS ABOUT GROWING UP THE DAUGHTER OF INDIAN IMMIGRANTS IN WESTERN CULTURE, ADDRESSING SEXISM, STEREOTYPES, AND THE UNIVERSAL MISERIES OF LIFE

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair. Whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry; enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer; overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world; dealing with Internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.

With a sharp eye and biting wit, incomparable rising star and cultural observer Scaachi Koul offers a hilarious, scathing, and honest look at modern life.