by Michael Deagler
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Pub Date 07 May 2024 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2024
Astra Publishing House, Astra House
—Percival Everett, 2023 Windham Campbell Prize recipient and author of Dr. No
Don’t worry about what Dennis Monk did when he was drinking. He’s sober now, ready to rejoin the world of leases and paychecks, reciprocal friendships and healthy romances—if only the world would agree to take him back. When his working-stiff parents kick him out of their suburban home, mere months into his frangible sobriety, the 26-year-old spends his first dry summer couch surfing through South Philadelphia, struggling to find a place for himself in the throng of adulthood.
Monk’s haphazard pilgrimage leads him through a city in flux: growing, gentrifying, haunted by its history and its unrealized potential. Everyone he knew from college seems to be doing better than him—and most of them aren’t even doing that well. His run-ins with former classmates, estranged drinking buddies, and prospective lovers challenge his version of events past and present, revealing that recovery is not the happy ending he’d expected, only a fraught next chapter.
Like a sober, millennial Jesus’ Son, Michael Deagler’s debut novel is the poignant confession of a recovering addict adrift in the fragmenting landscape of America’s middle class. Shot through with humor, hubris, and hard-earned insight, Early Sobrieties charts the limbos that exist between our better and worst selves, offering a portrait of a stifled generation collectively slouching towards grace.
"A luminous and observant debut about all the strangeness of returning to the places that formed you. The prose is spectacular." —Akil Kumarasamy, author of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea
"Early Sobrieties is a miracle, a debut of startling beauty, grit, and grace. Cutting into the glow of its lyricism and humor, the awesome glare of undeceived vision illuminates every page." —Greg Jackson, author of The Dimensions of a Cave
"Funny, insightful, and, above all, well-written, Early Sobrieties is a pleasure to read. Deagler manages to tell the story of his bewildered and rudderless protagonist in a way that is not rudderless at all, but rather precise and meaningful." —David Sanchez, author of All Day is a Long Time
"Michael Deagler is the real deal. This novel is surprising in all the best ways. The actions of the complex and complicated people in this world are not predictable, but always, frighteningly, believable. Deagler writes with great control and understatement. This is a truly intelligent work from a clearly intelligent writer." —Percival Everett, 2023 Windham Campbell Prize recipient and author of Dr. No
"Deagler's debut pulls in a reader with such an inviting clarity—there's something about the honesty in this voice that creates a lot of room for the reader to feel and makes for an illuminating and moving read." —Aimee Bender, author of The Butterfly Lampshade
"Emotionally raw, often jaded, but still full of wonder, Early Sobrieties is an incredibly funny and tender story. Michael Deagler does a fantastic job of bringing into relief the absurdities of being a young adult and trying to find your place in a changing world." —Craig Finn, songwriter and frontman of The Hold Steady
MARKETING AND PUBLICITY PLANS • Cover reveal on Astra House social media • National media campaign including print, radio, podcasts, and online coverage • Pitch for feature stories and profiles, as well as original pieces by the author • Target outreach to publications and reviewers focused on debuts, literary fiction, urban fiction, stories about addiction and recovery, workingclass stories, contemporary masculinity • Regional media and events focus on Pennsylvania and California • Select author tour including independent bookstores and festivals • Fiction awards campaign • Library promotion • Book club promotion
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
A story about when one person gets sober but the others around him do not, nor have much regard for his sobriety. Reading this, I found Monk to be acquiescing to the realities of his lifelong peers and not doing much work on himself to create a new reality for himself. Brand new feathers on the same old bird.
Deagler has written one heck of a novel.
As the title suggests, this book is about one young man who gets sober and deals with all that entails.
His parents kick him out of their home when he is newly sober. He relies on the kindness of his friends as he couch surfs with them all. He deals with all of the issues confronting the newly sober in a world that they are navigating for the first time.
He encounters former friends that he drank with, former classmates and others that he knew when he was drunk. He finds sobriety and the accompanying adulthood tough roads to ho.
This book is a good look at what is a really hard time for the newly sober. I have been sober decades and found this book true to form in the issues - and the young man himself.
Thank you to Astra House and NetGalley for this ARC of Michael Deagler's 'Early Sobrieties.'
We follow Dennis Monk as he spends his first year of sobriety couch-surfing with friends (new and old) and acquaintances all over South Philadelphia after a decade or more of wanton drunkenness.
I wouldn't say that this is an overly original narrative or theme but I can say it's highly enjoyable due to the warmth and humor that the author injects into his characters and story and also for the way in which he makes South Philly and its myriad and changing neighborhoods into one of the indelible characters in the novel.
Monk - a son of a blue collar Bucks County family - is a recovering alcoholic who eschews the 12 steps and figures that his getting sober is reward enough for the people he might've harmed along the way. He starts off in the novel self-righteously proclaiming his sobriety to all and sundry but comes to loathe having to explain himself.
It's an interesting structure, while there are characters who have a thread throughout the book we engage pretty deeply with each new housemate for a while and then, all of a sudden, he's in a new spot with a new housemate and the previous one and the reason for their jettisoning not discussed and we never hear from them again in most cases. I eventually liked it because I think it reflect the disjointed nature and lack of forethought to his meanderings across South Philly for that year.
Monk is a great character - very human and with all the nuances and burgeoning self-awareness you'd hope to see - and all of the consistent and fleeting characters that appear in the book are also very enjoyable - from the blue collar no-nonsense mailman father to sex club owning neighbor we meet briefly towards the end.
I'm not sure what the approach would be but I would love to know more about what happens next for Monk.
This book is as fascinating as it is monotonous. It’s truly just plodding along in someone’s first year of sobriety, which I imagine can be quite boring compared to their lives before. This book for me was a slow delight and a chance to get to know a man named Dennis, a man working hard to get his life back. A refreshing change of pace after other books I’ve read recently.
Thank you NetGalley and Astra House (maybe my new favorite indie) for the ARC!
I don't normally love coming-of-age stories about dysfunctional young men (did we not grow up with so many of them), but this book reeled me in with one of the best opening lines I've read all year: "Like all mailmen, my father hated James Farley, William Kendall, and Herodotus." It's just out of nowhere--I know nothing about mailmen, this guy's father, or any of these three characters/historical figures, but now I want to! This is a great book about the often simultaneous challenge of adapting to one's adult self and kicking a brutal addiction (while trying to build a career as a journalist). Places and spaces are described stunningly, from kitchens to landscapes, but even more so the fight to stay alive when the world assumes you have your whole life ahead of you. And, as our protagonist adds about wrestling away one's life from the jaws of death..."Then what?" Looking forward to much much more from Michael Deagler!