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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Early Work

Early Work

A Novel

Andrew Martin

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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"What a debut! Early Work is one of the wittiest, wisest (sometimes silliest, in the best sense), and bravest novels about wrestling with the early stages of life and love, of creative and destructive urges, I’ve read in a while. The angst of the young and reasonably comfortable isn’t always pretty, but Andrew Martin possesses the prose magic to make it hilarious, illuminating, moving." —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts

For young writers of a certain temperament—if they haven’t had such notions beaten out of them by MFA programs and the Internet—the delusion persists that great writing must be sought in what W. B. Yeats once called the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” That’s where Peter Cunningham has been looking for inspiration for his novel—that is, when he isn’t teaching at the local women’s prison, walking his dog, getting high, and wondering whether it’s time to tie the knot with his college girlfriend, a medical student whose night shifts have become a standing rebuke to his own lack of direction. When Peter meets Leslie, a sexual adventurer taking a break from her fiancé, he gets a glimpse of what he wishes and imagines himself to be: a writer of talent and nerve. Her rag-and-bone shop may be as squalid as his own, but at least she knows her way around the shelves. Over the course of a Virginia summer, their charged, increasingly intimate friendship opens the door to difficult questions about love and literary ambition.

With a keen irony reminis… More…

"What a debut! Early Work is one of the wittiest, wisest (sometimes silliest, in the best sense), and bravest novels about wrestling with the early stages of life and love, of creative and destructive urges, I’ve read in a while. The angst of the young and reasonably comfortable isn’t always pretty, but Andrew Martin possesses the prose magic to make it hilarious, illuminating, moving." —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts

For young writers of a certain temperament—if they haven’t had such notions beaten out of them by MFA programs and the Internet—the delusion persists that great writing must be sought in what W. B. Yeats once called the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” That’s where Peter Cunningham has been looking for inspiration for his novel—that is, when he isn’t teaching at the local women’s prison, walking his dog, getting high, and wondering whether it’s time to tie the knot with his college girlfriend, a medical student whose night shifts have become a standing rebuke to his own lack of direction. When Peter meets Leslie, a sexual adventurer taking a break from her fiancé, he gets a glimpse of what he wishes and imagines himself to be: a writer of talent and nerve. Her rag-and-bone shop may be as squalid as his own, but at least she knows her way around the shelves. Over the course of a Virginia summer, their charged, increasingly intimate friendship opens the door to difficult questions about love and literary ambition.

With a keen irony reminiscent of Sam Lipsyte or Lorrie Moore, and a romantic streak as wide as Roberto Bolaño’s, Andrew Martin’s Early Work marks the debut of a writer as funny and attentive as any novelist of his generation.

“Beautifully executed and very funny, Early Work is a sharp-eyed, sharp-voiced debut that I didn’t want to put down.” —Julia Pierpont, author of Among the Ten Thousand Things and The Little Book of Feminist Saints

Less…

Part I


Like most people trying to get by in something like the regular current of American life, I don’t act like a total asshole to most people I meet, and am generally regarded as pretty nice, mainly because I leave myself vulnerable...

Praise for Early Work

"Compulsively readable . . . [Early Work] asks big questions about ambition and success and art and love, but it's also a story of a love affair, delicious and horrible in equal measure." —Emily Temple, Literary Hub

"A wry and pitch-perfect novel about late-twentysomething writers and lazy-progressive creatives in varying stages of existential crisis . . . Early Work is a cautionary tale; it reveals, with damning irony, that one who romanticizes the agonized and drug-addled artist, prioritizing the lifestyle over any actual output, does so at his peril. Because, eventually, the people around him will have created some early work of their own—if only for the opportunity to move beyond it." —Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed

"A well-written . . . amusing debut about what it takes to succeed or fail in love or art." —Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin's stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Zyzzyva, and Tin House's Flash Fridays series, and his non-fiction has been published by The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, and others. Early Work is his first novel.

Andrew Martin

Meet the Author

July 10-17, 2018

Meet Andrew Martin as he reads from his debut novel Early Work.

READ THE FULL EXCERPT →

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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