The Last Bookstore is pleased to present Joanna Novak, the author of the novel I Must Have You, and Joseph Scapellato, the author of the story collection Big Lonesome. Join us for a reading and a Q&A.
Get tickets – and even reserve a seat – right here.
Reinventing a great American tradition through an absurdist, discerning eye, Joseph Scapellato uses these twenty-five stories to conjure worlds, themes, and characters who are at once unquestionably familiar and undeniably strange. Big Lonesome navigates through the American West—from the Old West to the modern-day West to the Midwest, from cowboys to mythical creatures to everything in between—exploring place, myth, masculinity, and what it means to be whole or to be broken.
Though he works in the tradition of George Saunders and Patrick deWitt—writing subversive, surreal, and affecting stories that unveil the surprising inner lives of ordinary people and the mythic dimensions of our everyday lives—”Scapellato’s Big Lonesome is unlike anything else you’ve ever read” (Robert Boswell).
An inventive, ranging debut story collection from a writer hailed by Charles Yu as “a stunningly original voice—warm, bleak, dark, ecstatic, full of silences and power and life”
The year is 1999, and thirteen-year-old Elliot is a self-appointed diet coach who teaches her classmates how to survive on one stick of gum a day to get heroin-chic Kate Moss-thin. Elliot is obsessed with her best friend and former client Lisa, who is fresh out of inpatient treatment and dating a nineteen-year-old drug dealer. Meanwhile, Elliot’s mother Anna, a capricious poetry professor, has a drug addiction and eating disorder of her own. When Lisa transfers her fixation from food to sex with her boyfriend, Elliot’s fragile grip on reality begins to falter at the same time that Anna’s fascination with the object of her own blind lust, the student who relinquishes his cocaine to her during office hours, begins to consume her.
I Must Have You is the story of what happens one three-day weekend in an explosion of desire, hunger, and lost innocence. JoAnna Novak’s kaleidoscope of 1990s America, filled with vibrant imagery from riot grrl graffiti to Michael Jordan posters, offers a vision of the complexities of womanhood and the culture that keeps the modern girl sick. I Must Have You is a provocative debut of rare honesty from a daring new voice. Similar to the works of Miranda July, Novak’s novel will appeal to a new generation of readers who hunger for raw female protagonists.
Joseph Scapellato was born in the suburbs of Chicago and earned his MFA in Fiction at New Mexico State University. He is the author of Big Lonesome, a story collection, and The Made-Up Man, a forthcoming novel. Joseph teaches English at Bucknell University. He lives in Lewisburg, PA, with his wife, daughter, and dog.
JoAnna Novak is the author of the novel I Must Have You and the book-length poem Noirmania (Inside the Castle 2018). Her work has appeared in publications including The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Guernica, and BOMB. She is a co-founder of the literary journal and chapbook publisher, Tammy.