Early sobrieties A novel

Michael Deagler

Book - 2024

"Don't worry about what Dennis Monk did when he was drinking. He's sober now, ready to rejoin the world of leases and paychecks, reciprocal friendships and healthy romances - if only the world would agree to take him back. When his working-stiff parents kick him out of their suburban home, mere months into his frangible sobriety, the 26-year-old spends his first dry summer couch surfing through South Philadelphia, struggling to find a place for himself in the throng of adulthood. Monk's haphazard pilgrimage leads him through a city in flux: growing, gentrifying, haunted by its history and its unrealized potential. Everyone he knew from college seems to be doing better than him - and most of them aren't even doing th...at well. His run-ins with former classmates, estranged drinking buddies, and prospective lovers challenge his version of events past and present, revealing that recovery is not the happy ending he'd expected, only a fraught next chapter. Like a sober, millennial Jesus' Son, Michael Deagler's debut novel is the poignant confession of a recovering addict adrift in the fragmenting landscape of America's middle class. Shot through with humor, hubris, and hard-earned insight, Early Sobrieties charts the limbos that exist between our better and worst selves, offering a portrait of a stifled generation collectively slouching towards grace." -- Jacket flap

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FICTION/Deagler Michael
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Deagler Michael (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 5, 2024
Social problem fiction
New York : Astra House [2024]
Main Author
Michael Deagler (author)
First edition
Physical Description
257 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A young man surfaces from the depths of alcoholism in Deagler's pitch-perfect debut novel. Dennis Monk, 26, is seven months sober and determined to reconnect with the community he left behind in Bucks County, Pa., where he grew up before moving to Philadelphia for college. His Irish Catholic parents are skeptical, though, and they kick him out of the house after he fails to find gainful employment. Thus ensues a winding trek across Philly, whose blocks remain awash in Dennis's memories even as the pace of gentrification picks up. Between bed-hopping among new and old flames, he reconnects with friends he'd grown estranged from and takes on odd jobs for which he's semiqualified (after helping a new homeowner remove unsightly shag carpeting, he falsely identifies the uncovered flooring as solid oak). Dennis's years of drinking and working in dive bars and his blue-collar background anoint him with a wizened and wry outlook on the rapidly transforming city (one neighborhood is "quickly becoming another charm in Philadelphia's hipster bracelet," invaded by "the sons of lawyers and pediatricians who aspired to look like the sons of miners and farmers"). Deagler is even better when Dennis looks inward, weighing his precarious liberation from booze ("A substance so wholesome they served it in church"). This is a standout. Agent: Samantha Shea, Georges Borchardt, Inc. (May)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

The witty, fiercely intelligent story of a young alcoholic in the fragile early days of sobriety, suspended between addiction and whatever life might come next--the shape of which he can't yet see. Twenty-six-year-old Dennis Monk, just months sober, gets the boot from his parents' suburban Philadelphia home and begins what will be, over the novel's episodic chapters, a half-year odyssey as the serial houseguest of relatives, old flames, and running buddies from high school and college. Dennis jumps from makeshift situation to awkward makeshift situation (pushed-together couches he hopes won't get sold out from under him, cots in basements alongside washing machines) all over a rapidly gentrifying Philadelphia filled with his only-marginally-less-lost peers. Sometimes he's a freeloader; sometimes he earns his keep, sort of, through errands not always handled successfully, projects he can fake his way through, or fitful employment. Dennis is nimble-tongued and keenly observant, and the book offers all sorts of humorous delights. Yet the reader quickly sees, too, that irony is Dennis' protective coloration, that his wit is anxious and self-preserving. He may not be a gentrifier, but he is a kind of hipster who, like his coevals, simply wants to cobble together, from the unpromising materials available, an identity he can live in. Beneath the world weariness and sarcasm we get glimpses (for instance, in the bit-by-bit-revealed story of a friend who died from drinking) of a sweetness and vulnerability, even a fragile hopefulness, that Dennis is at pains to hide and resist. This is less a traditional novel than a linked collection of stories, a serial picaresque, but ultimately that approach feels like the right one for a book about navigating--or maybe just drifting through, in search of some useful piece of flotsam to grab hold of--a limbo of one's own making. As a starting point for a new life, "non-drinker" is a necessary condition...but by itself that datum doesn't get one very far. The book ends with Dennis, one year sober, on the verge of--well, who knows what, but verges beat sloughs every day. Wry, sharp, charming, resistant to neat closures and easy turns--a debut of enormous promise. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.