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Tom Tibbets takes a job at a small weekly newspaper in Portage, New Hampshire, and an apartment in the old Cooper Building, where the residents form a kaleidoscope pattern of the odd, the interesting, and even the insane.
One neighbor believes that we descend from aliens, another is a pothead-philosopher, and there’s a pair of brothers who play with illegal explosives for fun. A vegan pacifist lives there, along with a couple of nomadic born-again Christians, a schizophrenic unicycle rider, and a mysterious wise man.
At first, Tom feels like he’s the only “normal” person living in the building.
However, he soon believes that the very people he at first considered unstable and strange have become a lens through which he gets a new look at himself and everything else.
When something happens that leaves the tenant community feeling
changed and off-balance, Tom comes to wonder if somehow his added
karmic weight has thrown off the bizarre status-quo, energetic equilibrium of the place. In the end, Aliens, Drywall, and a Unicycle is the story of personal growth from a state of delusion to examination to awareness of what is truly important in life.
A Note From the Publisher
This is also available in paperback
“For me, the most beautiful books are always
the strange ones, and Aliens, Drywall, and a Unicycle is both strange and beautiful. It’s a novel about a culture—the 90s—that, in this moment, we’re both leaving behind and reviving. Like so many of the great lean works of fiction—Cannery Row, Jesus’ Son—Kevin St. Jarre’s book obeys its own singular vision of place, character, idea and, more than anything, meaning.
And, like all the best books of its kind, this novel trembles on the verge of almost making no sense—and yet, by the final pages, I found myself feeling that rare emotion
that only truly unique art inspires.”
—Jaed Coffin, author of A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants and Roughhouse Friday
“Aliens, Drywall, and a Unicycle—the title doesn’t
even begin to get to all the juxtapositional hijinks in this
poignant, funny, and breakneck debut. Our man Tom lives in an apartment building with a cast of alternately alluring, zany, dangerous, and lovable characters whose stories ineluctably become his own. Kevin St. Jarre writes with life and humor and blessed heartfelt economy, reaches into souls and pulls out secrets it turns out we all share. Antic, compassionate, sweet and sometimes deadly, this novel will keep you reading till the batteries run out in your flashlight, dark night of the soul.”
—Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants,
The Remedy for Love, and The Girl of the Lake
“With a reckless and savage humor, St. Jarre captures
the desperation and madness of a small New England
town with grace and compassion.”
—Shellie Leger, author of Lonely Specks
“Small-town reporter Tom Tibbetts’ weekly assignment is simple: profile one of his eccentric Cooper Building neighbors, providing a bit of harmless ‘refrigerator’ news for Portage,
New Hampshire, readers. Soon, Tom finds himself entangled in the lives of the endearingly odd, keenly observed cast of characters. Aliens, Drywall, and a Unicycle invites us to play wingman on Tom’s journey from outsider to adopted son. St. Jarre deftly balances absurdist elements with easygoing dialogue and relaxed, immersive pacing; wit and warmth flow beneath the surface action so that when darkness strikes, Tom knows he is too changed to step away. By book’s end, Tom likes these folks even at their most unlikeable, and so do we.”
—Kim Green, author of Live a Little
and Paging Aphrodite