“Darkly funny and glitteringly satirical, The Atmospherians unforgettably takes aim at wokeness, wellness, and toxic masculinity.” —Esquire
This “edgy, addictive” (Kirkus Reviews, starred) satire about two best friends who form The Atmosphere—a cult designed to reform problematic men—is “a book to be devoured” (Vanity Fair).
Sasha Marcus was once the epitome of contemporary success: an internet sensation, social media darling, and a creator of a high-profile wellness brand for women. But a confrontation with an abusive troll has taken a horrifying turn, and now she’s at rock bottom: canceled and doxxed online, isolated in her apartment while men’s rights protestors rage outside.
Sasha confides in her oldest childhood friend, Dyson—a failed actor with a history of body issues—who hatches a plan for her to restore her reputation by becoming the face of his new business venture, The Atmosphere: a rehabilitation community for men. Based in an abandoned summer camp and billed as a workshop for job training, it is actually a rigorous program designed to rid men of their toxic masculinity. Sasha has little choice but to accept. But what horrors await her as the resident female leader of a crew of washed up, desperate men? And what exactly does Dyson want?
Explosive, dazzling, and wickedly funny, The Atmospherians is “a book written with this exact cultural moment in mind” (Oprah Daily).
McElroy's impressive debut novel (after the chapbook Daddy Issues) lands a well-crafted jab at toxic masculinity and attempts to control it. Sasha Marcus, creator of a popular wellness brand for women, is a social media sensation until her foul response to an internet troll gets her cancelled. Suddenly unemployed, at home, and with men's rights activists demonstrating outside her apartment, Sasha is desperate. So when her visionary if misguided childhood friend, Dyson, reaches out with a proposal to start a cult, Sasha agrees. Housed at an abandoned property, the cult named The Atmosphere has one mission: to save white men from themselves. Dyson, a failed actor with an eating disorder, recruits the men under the false pretense of job training. Operations begin with men being forced to purge their food after meals, followed by hard labor around the property and therapy sessions with Sasha. As the pressure builds and a job offer lingers in Sasha's voicemail, her friendship with Dyson is tested. Things worsen when The Atmosphere appears in the news, and Sasha is presumed to be the sole leader. The author conveys Sasha's dilemma in rich prose and haunting images, using a finely honed satirical lens. This notable debut makes hay with the miasma of contemporary culture.