Named a book of the year by BUSTLE and ELECTRIC LITERATURE
“Alby is Holden Caulfield in the Internet age..." --Los Angeles Times
Hailed as "indelible" by Entertainment Weekly, a "cringe-inducingly funny" (The Wall Street Journal) gut-punch of a debut about love, grief, and family "unleashes one of the most comically arresting voices this side of Sam Lipsyte's Homeland" (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
In Matt Sumell's blazing first book, our hero Alby flails wildly against the world around him—he punches his sister (she deserved it), "unprotectos" broads (they deserved it and liked it), gets drunk and picks fights (all deserved), defends defenseless creatures both large and small, and spews insults at children, slow drivers, old ladies, and every single surviving member of his family. In each of these stories Alby distills the anguish, the terror, the humor, and the strange grace—or lack of—he experiences in the aftermath of his mother's death. Swirling at the center of Alby's rage is a grief so big, so profound, it might swallow him whole. As he drinks, screws, and jokes his way through his pain and heartache, Alby's anger, his kindness, and his capacity for good bubble up when he (and we) least expect it. Sumell delivers "a naked rendering of a heart sorting through its broken pieces to survive.*"
Making Nice is a powerful, full-steam-ahead ride that will keep you laughing even as you try to catch your breath; a new classic about love, loss, and the fine line between grappling through grief and fighting for (and with) the only family you've got.
From the first page, Sumell's exceptional novel in stories unleashes one of the most comically arresting voices this side of Sam Lipsyte's Homeland. Alby is congenitally violent, frequently intoxicated, eloquently abusive, a 30-year-old "loser" (according to his sister), and unmistakably American. Even on her deathbed, Alby's mother can't think of anything nice to say about him, and so Alby spirals into barely concealed rage, lashing out at his sister (whom he punches, noting, "Siblings don't count as ladies"), his father (who lives mostly on Hot Pockets), and his girlfriends including one whom he compulsively humiliates in "Toast" (originally published in the Paris Review) and a waitress who out-matures him in "The Block, Twice." But Alby's biggest victim is himself; essentially a hostage to his temper and grief, he is a sort of every-bro. He also emerges as the protector of a helpless bird (although he hopes to train it to "bite people's dicks off in the dark"), cares for his bedridden grandmother (though he makes a bet that she "wouldn't make it past December"), and feels genuine remorse for all the people he's punched in the face (like the guy who said he "should be nicer to people"). This exasperating, pitiable, contemptible man is as beautiful and wounded a soul as your little brother or worst foe. Sumell's debut demonstrates an almost painful compassion for the sinner in most of us, making Making Nice even more fun than eavesdropping in a confession booth.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This book is funny. It's dark and twisted, and in many places, just wrong. I have deep concern for the people who don't find this amusing. Please, seek professional help.
Low Brow Humor
This insipid book is a tasteless juvenile attempt at being humorous. It is certainly not worth reading.
This book is not funny. It's dark and twisted, and in many places, just wrong. I have deep concern for the people who find this amusing. Please, seek professional help.