I might not have read a single truly funny novel that year if my friend hadn't stopped by my Los Angeles porch one afternoon carrying an out-of-print copy of Robert Plunket's comic masterpiece, My Search for Warren Harding . We were in the worst of days—the depths of the pre-vaccine pandemic—and our world was on fire, both literally and figuratively. The copy of the novel that my friend, the writer Victoria Patterson, handed over to me looked the way we all felt in those days: yellowing, battered, dusty from too long in storage. Tory bellowed through the muffling fabric of her N95 mask that it was one of her favorite novels—and really fucking funny. I needed funny. I opened the book a few weeks later—and despite my allergic reaction to the mold in the edition, kept reading for the next 256 pages. When I was done, I sat in a kind of silent, focused delight. I held in my hands one of the best, and most invigorating books I'd read in years, and certainly the funniest—and yet, how was it out of print? Why had I never heard of this novel before now? (Later I learned Tory had actually written an excellent piece about it for Tin House magazine in 2015.) Why had it disappeared so fully from the literary landscape? And what did that say about […]
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