"Scapellato's blend of existential noir, absurdist humor, literary fiction, and surreal exploration of performance art merges into something special. . . . The Made-Up Man is a rare novel that is simultaneously smart and entertaining." —Gabino Iglesias, NPR
Stanley had known it was a mistake to accept his uncle Lech’s offer to apartment-sit in Prague—he’d known it was one of Lech’s proposals, a thinly veiled setup for some invasive, potentially dangerous performance art project. But whatever Lech had planned for Stanley, it would get him to Prague and maybe offer a chance to make things right with T after his failed attempt to propose.
Stanley can take it. He can ignore their hijinks, resist being drafted into their evolving, darkening script. As the operation unfolds it becomes clear there’s more to this performance than he expected; they know more about Stanley’s state of mind than he knows himself. He may be able to step over chalk outlines in the hallway, may be able to turn away from the women acting as his mother or the men performing as his father, but when a man made up to look like Stanley begins to play out his most devastating memory, he won’t be able to stand outside this imitation of his life any longer.
Immediately and wholly immersive, Joseph Scapellato’s debut novel, The Made-Up Man, is a hilarious examination of art’s role in self-knowledge, a sinister send-up of self-deception, and a big-hearted investigation into the cast of characters necessary to help us finally meet ourselves.
“This bold, hilarious, and playfully absurd novel asks the biggest questions out there, but does it with such shrewd grace and charming lightness that you won’t feel the existential weight until it’s already crashed down upon your head. A perfect amalgamation of the tragicomic and the potentially uplifting, Joseph Scapellato’s writing is in the imaginative vein of Jesse Ball and Charlie Kaufman, but with a tenderhearted spirit that is uniquely his own.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“The Made-Up Man is a mystery, a playful essay on performance art, and a meditation on the instability of selfhood. It’s also great fun. Joseph Scapellato is the rare author unafraid of intellectualism but just as invested in storytelling. This is a novel like no other you’ll read this year.” —Kerry Howley, author of Thrown
“The Made-Up Man reads banal nightmare like Kafka and neurotic human chaos like Joy Williams. But Joseph Scapellato writes like no other American writer—full of harnessed energy, compassion, and deeply disquieting dread that somehow combine the best of the European nihilists with the outlandish optimism that American writers do so well.” —Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World
“The Made-Up Man is wild and deep and entrancing fun. Joseph Scapellato’s kinetic prose leapfrogs us into moments both disturbing and startlingly familiar—there’s ache inside this comedy, and comedy inside this ache. Read it and be punctured with amazement.” —C.J. Hribal, author of The Company Car
“To read The Made-Up Man is to move through a labyrinthine hall of mirrors in which every reflection holds Scapellato’s hilarity, verve, curiosity, and compassion. An analogue to Escher’s artful tessellations. Joseph Scapellato’s storytelling relies on an uncanny and mathematical precision. The Made-Up Man is delightfully inventive and dizzyingly original.” —Alexander Parsons, author of In the Shadows of the Sun
“The Made-Up Man is an amazing book. Its subtle buildup of invention astonished me. Artists are supposed to probe the sociocultural enclosures that imprison us all. They’re supposed to plan escapes, to break out and mark a pathway for the rest of us. Joseph Scapellato is different. This book is proof that his deep, dervish mind has never known captivity.” —Alfredo Véa, author of Gods Go Begging