Expanding the world of his classic-in-the-making debut novel Early Work, Andrew Martin’s Cool for America is a hilarious collection of overlapping stories that explores the dark zone between artistic ambition and its achievement
The collection is bookended by the misadventures of Leslie, a young woman (first introduced in Early Work) who moves from New York to Missoula, Montana to try to draw herself out of a lingering depression, and, over the course of the book, gains painful insight into herself through a series of intense friendships and relationships.
Other stories follow young men and women, alone and in couples, pushing hard against, and often crashing into, the limits of their abilities as writers and partners. In one story, two New Jersey siblings with substance-abuse problems relapse together on Christmas Eve; in another, a young couple tries to make sense of an increasingly unhinged veterinarian who seems to be tapping, deliberately or otherwise, into the unspoken troubles between them. In tales about characters as they age from punk shows and benders to book clubs and art museums, the promise of community acts—at least temporarily—as a stay against despair.
Running throughout Cool for America is the characters’ yearning for transcendence through art: the hope that, maybe, the perfect, or even just the good-enough sentence, can finally make things right.
About the Author
Andrew Martin's first novel Early Work was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and a finalist for the Cabell First Novelist Award. His stories and essays have been published in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. He lives in New York with his partner, Laura, and their dog Bonnie.
"Andrew Martin's Cool for America is a collection as intensely pleasurable as it is uncomfortably potent. I felt myself growing uneasy as I turned the pages—each cheerfully aimless, morally compromised, defensively witty character cutting closer and closer to the bone. Martin's stories are queasily plausible—or they would be if they weren't also so funny and fun to read." —Miranda Popkey, author of Topics of Conversation
"Overeducated and undermined, the women and men in Andrew Martin's stories fortify themselves with beer, weed, intensely felt verdicts about music and literature, and messing around with people they probably shouldn't be messing around with. Martin's prose is as melancholy and ruthless as Raymond Carver's, and his wit is as dark and sharp as Mary Robison's or Donald Antrim's." --Caleb Crain, author of Overthrow and Necessary Errors