The Sarah Book
Picked as one of Dennis Coopers favorite books off 2017
From indie lit icon Scott McClanahan comes a semi-autobiographical novel of love and loss in contemporary West Virginia.
The Sarah Book is as humorous as it is sad, as tragic as it is hopeful, and as redeeming as it is damned. Through McClanahan's unique Appalachian vision, we watch a young couple fall in love, begin their life together and then fall apart as their marriage breaks down.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for The Sarah Book
Translation Rights Sold
Scott McClanahan writes like Walt Whitman and Barry Hannah had a love child who grew up addicted to speed and porn and The History Channel. I feel like there’s almost no way to describe the book, it’s so packed; like McClanahan flung his arms open and gathered all the objects and people and emotions in his world, then compressed them into three-hundred thousand tiny quivering black marks, each one ready to explode with the slightest touch. I can’t come up with a single adjective to capture the multiplicity of emotions I experienced as a reader, so I’ll just say that The Sarah Book is a crazy heart-breaking surprising sad delicious desperate horrifying hilarious ride.
Scott McClanahan’s writing is so pure, honest and immediately engaging, it felt like I wasn’t just reading prose: it felt like I was reading the prose. The Sarah Book is hilarious, unflinching and deeply sad. Its every chapter, every page, every observation an addictive delight. I read it in one sitting and days later am still stumbling around from its unexpected wallop.
The romance and destruction of a marriage. I couldn’t put it down. Written with all the punches left in. McClanahan shows us the dents and scrapes and breakdowns of a man trying to be a husband and father while at the same time sabotaging the very things he loves. Unnerving but remarkable.
Scott McClanahan is the Appalachian Charles Bukowski
Delivered in McClanahan's plain-spoken yet lyric style, the novel veers from the crushing to the ecstatic, mirroring the life of its narrator, also named Scott McClanahan, a drunk-driving, Bible-burning, wings-loving young West Virginian and father of two as he tries to get his life together. It's funny and dark and moving and true, and I hope you enjoy.
[c]omparing McClanahan only to Breece Pancake and Larry Brown does not do him justice. The Sarah Book especially, is larger than that. It is not regional fiction, but human fiction, and it is best read not as a zoological window into exotic Appalachia, but as a window into yourself.
The Sarah Book is McClanahan's most emotionally raw work to date. It's about the end of his marriage, and opens with a particularly gut-wrenching scene of drunk driving. What follows are scenes from a marriage bottoming out: alcohol-fueled bad behavior, the destruction of a computer and obsessive viewings of the video for "November Rain." McClanahan juxtaposes these emotionally brutal scenes with moments from more hopeful times, before things turned sour – what he calls "sort of a Godfather II narrative structure."
The Sarah Book is brave, triumphant and beautiful — it reads like a fever dream, and it feels like a miracle.
Many writers who make their names as experimentalists later settle into more traditional forms. McClanahan, however, continues to explore the outer realms of author-reader engagement, as in this intense, deeply affecting novel.
Los Angeles Review of Books
The author’s rapid snapshots of his childhood and life in Appalachia add up to a massive mosaic that shines with vibrant scenes and dangerous characters. He hasn’t just captured a slice of a place; he’s built a whole world, complicated and full of contradictions. And he does it with a tender lyric twang.
The Sarah Book is the saddest song you’ve ever heard. It’s the last sip of whiskey from a bottle that’s been kicking around for too long. It’s a mixed-up story of a great romance gone awry, told in Scott McClanahan's distinctive voice. The main characters are true love, paranoia, the devil, and God. It’s set in parking lots and strip clubs and in shopping malls. It’s fiction and it’s memoir and it’s also neither of those things. It’s a hell of a read.
With The Sarah Book, Scott McClanahan understands that, even with the good moments in between, life is about tragedy, about losing everything — it's death and aging and losing the people you love the most. He talks about this through the history of his dissolving marriage, and all the jealousy, paranoia, and loneliness one would expect. But he tells this story with an insightful self-awareness and self-deprecation that's welcomely (and sometimes uncomfortably) honest, incredibly funny, and strangely beautiful.
Love is the splash a rock makes when thrown into a river, and this book captures that splash and all the ripples afterward, and even what it's like after that river has dried up in its own bank, and all you see are all the rocks that were ever thrown, lying in the dust. This is to say, it's beautiful and strange, mesmerizing and sobering, and it wonderfully captures the ways in which we are all just living in a sort of a bedtime story [...].
Scott McClanahan’s The Sarah Book, is the rare hilarious novel. The book is really, really funny, but only in the ways that humans (and elderly, one-eyed pugs) are so funny. It’s painfully sad, but only in the ways that life is often painful and sad.
A wrenching and sometimes profound document of loss.
Scott McClanahan’s The Sarah Book is a furious exhalation of love and hurt and hate and tenderness and anger. This is a chronicle of a couple coming together and breaking apart. There is courage in these pages because so much of what McClanahan details is ugly and desperate and raw--everything, food, drink, love, heartbreak, to excess. The writing is so intimate you want to reach into the book to save this man from himself but you can’t. That impossibility is what makes this book so memorable, so powerful.
The Sarah Book tore a hole in my soul... It’s a sad beautiful song of bleakness and alienation lined with sunbursts of tenderness and redemption.Anne K Yoder
A powerful chronicle of parenthood, alcoholism, and isolation, all told in McClanahan’s distinctive prose style.
McClanahan’s writing is witty, weird, brutally honest, and saturated by his complicated relationship with West Virginia and its people.
I don't know where the fact ends and the fiction begins with McClanahan. Which makes this book that much more heartbreaking... It's also a very funny book. A teary-eyed chuckler of a read.
No living writer combines the mundane and the sublime, the high and the low, quite like West Virginian Scott McClanahan
It’s the funniest book you will ever read about divorce. Okay, it’s also one of the funniest books about anything. It’s written in a brave, unforced way that magically turns laughter and sadness into the same thing.