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Victor LaValle has already established himself as “one of the most eloquent voices of the approaching century” (Kirkus Reviews), a writer of darkly humorous tales full of haunting beauty, astonishing leaps of imagination, and language that “crackles and hums” (Chicago Tribune). The Ecstatic is LaValle’s debut novel, a startling tale of love, horror, sex, insanity, faith, morbid obesity, and the modern American family.
Something is wrong with Anthony—our 318-pound hero—and it’s getting worse. A monster has caught his uncle and his mother; now it wants Anthony. Mental illness has been transmitted through his family’s blood. The three women in his life—his mother, younger sister, and grandmother—find him naked and disoriented in his off-campus college apartment and take him home to Queens, each determined to fix him in her own peculiar way. But his presence soon turns their house into a semisuburban asylum.
Sweet but wickedly sarcastic, smart and heartbreakingly vulnerable, Anthony narrates his family’s surreal adventures through a world of grinning exploitation and fake cures, from storefront evangelists and neighborhood loan sharks to bogus beauty pageants and bootleg medical clinics. He corresponds with a dreadlocked Japanese militant, is haunted by a vicious pack of dogs, and tries to make his own horror movie, all in search of an answer to a question he doesn’t dare ask. Written in the tradition of misfit picaresques from Journey to the End of the Night and Invisible Man to A Confederacy of Dunces and The World According to Garp, The Ecstatic is the revelatory story of a family trying to save themselves from a ravenous world and their own unraveling minds.
“LaValle’s hero barrels through his comic novel attending beauty pageants, writing horror flicks, corresponding with a political prisoner, and dealing with his super-dysfunctional family. We get everything from this novel—Gogol as well as Biggie Smalls. His characters remind one of Chester Himes and Charles Wright, but LaValle is special.” —Ishmael Reed
“In the majestic tradition of William Faulkner, Victor LaValle has created, with love apparent, a singular cast of crazies, con men, and beauty queens out for their piece of the pie. This quest is a rollicking laugh-out-loud wild ride, but be warned: It is punctuated with stunning grief and mournful beauty. The Ecstatic is a jubilant American novel.” —Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of Hester Among the Ruins
“Possessed by Kafka, Carver, and the Notorious B.I.G., this is a tale of the new millennium American experience, grotesquely captured in a prose so crisp that it cuts to the core before you can blink. LaValle exposes our absurdity—clinical and otherwise—with all its hilarity, eroticism, violence, and horrific beauty. “ —Willie Perdomo, author of Where a Nickel Costs a Dime
“LaValle’s characters emerge 3-D from the page, formed in masterfully few sentences, lively in the reader’s brain from beginning to end, funny, poignant, absurd, profound. This book satisfies in a hundred different ways.”—Antonya Nelson, author of Female Trouble
“Seldom does one find a young novelist so adept at dark comedy, with an edge to his voice that is at once raw and sophisticated-no easy trick. Céline comes to mind, and the Henry Miller of Black Spring. The Ecstatic is a fabulous novel and Victor LaValle is a wonderful writer.” —Nicholas Christopher, author of Franklin Flyer
“A comic feast, deeply felt and beautifully written. The Ecstatic proves that Victor LaValle is a voice to be reckoned with for years to come.”
—Ernesto Quiñonez, author of Bodega Dreams