books

Contemporary
Fiction
The_united_states_of_america

Books like Stephen Florida

Stephen Florida

2017, Gabe Habash, Will Damron

5/5

Barring a miracle, this is going to be my favorite book of the year - a totally unique wildchild of a novel tracking the senior year of a 133 pound division IV wrestler in North Dakota. We're firmly in Stephen's head the whole way, and Habash has created a unique voice here, an amalgam of obsession, diversion, exclamation points, and failures to communicate that, for all its literary accomplishment, is a pleasure to be around. I understand the drive to label S.F. an unreliable narrator, but despite the plot actions left aside or hinted at, he felt more like an incredibly reliable voice to me, metronomic in his consistency despite boogeymen lurking at every corner, weirdly self-aware for someone who has no self-awareness. His disinterest in aspects of the plot outside of wrestling allow Habash to weave in subplots seamlessly. This is a busy book that never feels like it.In its obsessiveness, there are shades of THE UNIVERSAL BASEBALL ASSOCIATION, INC., there's a strong Nabokov vibe structurally (Nabokov loves to let planted digressions bloom in third act scene-work), and there are some nicely spaced out TRISTRAM SHANDY eruptions that kept my energy up by letting the voice change registers up. The use of wrestling allows the book to have wonderful moments of physicality and, crucially with such an intense inner-monologue, gives us a sequence of deadlines that allow us to glide through the calendar year. The obstacles and impediments in the three-act structure are good ones (the big one is spoiled by pretty much everything I've read, but I won't mention it here), and there are very few supporting characters that don't end up surprising us in plot. Mary Beth, in particular, is a star.And the book is funny! Really funny, both in its language and asides and in its relentless focus on the body and failures to communicate. I kept laughing on the subway.The ending is great also - no spoilers, but it's the rare one that gives you everything you want and leaves itself open for more. I'm a sucker for sports and sports movies and this sort of voice (not enough Joyce fans writing fiction these days), but even if you're not, this is one to read.
Picture of a book: Stephen Florida

Similar books

Filter by:

Cross-category suggestions

Music

Filter by:

Movies

Filter by:

Shows

Filter by:

Games

Podcasts

Filter by:

People

Filter by:

Places

Filter by:

Brands

Filter by: