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Hard Mouth

A Novel

List Price: $16.95

August 13, 2019 | Trade Paperback Original |  5.5 x 8.25, 256 pages | ISBN 9781640092426
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“An astute, luminous examination of the complexities of love and grief, with never a careless word. Hard Mouth is a blazing feat of a book.” —R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

An adventure novel upended by grief and propelled by the aberrant charm of its narrator, Hard Mouth is an unforgettable debut that explores what it takes to both existentially and literally survive.

For ten years, Denny’s father has battled cancer. The drawn-out loss has forged her into a dazed, antisocial young woman. On the clock, she works as a lab tech, readying fruit flies for experimentation. In her spare time, only her parents, an aggressively kind best friend, and her blowhard imaginary pal Gene—who she knows isn’t real—ornament her stale days in the D.C. suburbs.

Now her father’s cancer is back for a third time, and he’s rejecting treatment. Denny’s transgressive reaction is to flee. She begins to dismantle her life, constructing in its place the fantasy of perfect detachment. Unsure whether the impulse is monastic or suicidal, she rents a secluded cabin in the mountains. When she discovers life in the wilderness isn’t the perfect detachment she was expecting—and that she isn’t as alone as she’d hoped—Denny is forced to reckon with this failure while confronting a new life with its own set of pleasures and dangerous incursions.

Morbidly funny, subversive, and startling, Hard Mouth, the debut novel from 2018 NEA Creative Writing Fellow Amanda Goldblatt, unpacks what it means to live while others are dying.

AMANDA GOLDBLATT is a writer and teacher living in Chicago. She is a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow, and her fiction and essays have appeared in such journals as The Southern Review, NOON, Fence, Diagram, Hobart, and American Short Fiction. Hard Mouth is her debut novel.


Advance Praise for Hard Mouth

Hard Mouth manages an offbeat expedition while also bringing a one-of-a-kind dark humor to the page. Evading the predictable, Goldblatt wanders through the momentary and unanticipated emotions of knowing the worst is coming, and suggests that even if bad decisions are made along the way, there might be self awareness waiting on the other side.” —Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books

“Propulsive and beguiling . . . This debut is a striking psychological portrait of despair.” —Publishers Weekly

“By turns creepy and thought-provoking, this is a resonant debut about love, independence, and mourning.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Goldblatt’s spare and illuminating language suits her protagonist, who spends a good deal of time lonely inside her own head and experience.” —Booklist

“An astute, luminous examination of the complexities of love and grief, with never a careless word. Hard Mouth is a blazing feat of a book.” —R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

Hard Mouth is a heartbreaker of a novel. A mind-bruiser, too. Amanda Goldblatt has written an astonishing, destabilizing, and beautifully human book. It’s wildly empathetic, strangely funny, and so sharp it cuts. I loved it.” —Diane Cook, author of Man V. Nature: Stories

“Frank, funny, cool, and deceptively aloof, Hard Mouth gets to the heart of what it is to be a vulnerable thing living in this world. A beautiful book, and a totally pure reading experience.” —Halle Butler, author of Jillian and The New Me

Hard Mouth‘s surprises chase each other down like dominoes, both in plot and language. Goldblatt masters the balance of the epic and the personal, the adventurous and the introspective. I clung to every page.” —Jac Jemc, author of The Grip of It and False Bingo

“In Hard Mouth, Amanda Goldblatt unsettles every old tale, disturbs every familiar sentence, shows us prose so new it’s almost jarring in its beauty, all while telling a story that’s impossible to put down. Her narrator Denny’s maybe a revolutionary, maybe a feral runaway in a hollow tree, maybe just a sad, angry girl with a gun—but she’s certainly the Bartleby of grief.” —Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Hard Mouth is an astonishing, moving, and transcendent grief-work with an absurd sense of humor. In this stunning debut, Amanda Goldblatt announces herself as a certified literary technician of detachment and despair.” —Patty Yumi Cottrell, author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace

Hard Mouth is a breathless and original debut from a strong writer. A funny, heartfelt, and beautifully written novel.” —Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of Where the Dead Sit Talking

“Lyrical, poetic, and playful, Hard Mouth is the story of a slow death and the inevitability of the questions, revelations, griefs, and strangenesses that come with it. Beautifully written, sorrowful, funny. A book to be savored.” —Deb Olin Unferth, author of Wait Till You See Me Dance and I, Parrot

Hard Mouth‘s heroine, Denny, is grieving the eventual death of her father from cancer and, depending on which way you look at it, she’s either in a self-destructive tailspin or she’s making moves to find out who she truly is. When isolation seems like the only course of action, Denny rents a secluded cabin: along for the ride is Gene, an admittedly unreal imaginary friend who’s quick with bad advice and anecdotal quips. Armed with a gun, meal-replacement bars, wilderness guides, and an abundance of free time, Denny sets out to satisfy the escapist impulse and discover a new way of living. Hard Mouth is ambitious in its attempt to map the uncharted wilderness of loss and offers an unflinching examination of the kind of animal that grief makes of us.” —Billy Butler, Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

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