The Brand New Catastrophe

The Brand New Catastrophe

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Winner of the Center for Fiction's Doheny Prize Raucous family memoir meets medical adventure in this heartfelt, hilarious book exploring the public and private theaters of illness. After a tumor bursts in Mike Scalise s brain, leaving him with a hole in the head and malfunctioning hormones, he must navigate a new, alien world of illness maintenance. His mother, who has a chronic heart condition and a flair for drama, becomes a complicated model as she competes with him for the status of "best sick person." The Brand New Catastrophe is a moving, funny exploration of how we define ourselves by the stories we choose to tell. Mike Scalise's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Agni, Indiewire, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf, Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. "show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 303 pages
  • 135 x 193 x 23mm | 363g
  • Sarabande Books
  • Canada
  • English
  • 1941411339
  • 9781941411339
  • 955,074

About Mike Scalise

Mike Scalise s work has appeared in "Agni, Indiewire, Ninth Letter, The Paris Review, Wall Street Journal," and other places. He s an 826DC advisory board member, has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and the Ucross Foundation, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University. His memoir, "The Brand New Catastrophe," was the recipient of The Center for Fiction's 2014 Christopher Doheny Award."show more

Review quote

"A very funny book about the frailties of the flesh, the absurdities of modern medicine, and how to stay sane amid it all. Scalise's voice is fantastically entertaining, unfailingly honest." Dave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King and Heroes of the Frontier "This remarkable, riveting memoir is often extremely funnynot something I expected to say about a book that chronicles the life-altering effects of the disease behind gigantism. Scalise himself, meanwhile, is an ideal narrator: self-lacerating and observant, without a petty or small-minded bone in his (thankfully, not yet gigantic) body. I loved this book." Tom Bissell, author of Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve "Like the dynamo spawn of Louis CK and Oliver Sacks, Mike Scalise's startling and slyly hilarious memoir is a heartfelt reminder of how astonishing, how terrifying, how absurd it is to be a body. An essential book for those who've lived through catastrophe, or only imagined it." Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine "The coming-of-age during an illness memoir is a genre we rarely see, and Scalise writes with maturity and hard-won wit about the ways in which a chronic illness can test the bonds of family. But even more surprisingly, he explores how life within an unruly body can be weirdly freeing, making The Brand New Catastrophe a hugely entertaining read." Courtney Maum, author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You "Mike Scalise's The Brand New Catastrophe is a funny and clear-eyed view on illness, family, obligation and gigantism. It asks what we owe those we love and what we owe ourselves in moments of crisis. It's a jokey, melancholy, and deeply thoughtful love letter to the pains and pleasures of having a body that sometimes goes wrong. I loved it and you will, too." Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman "The Brand New Catastrophe strips away piety, jargon, and false feeling to show us what people, real people, really do and say when disaster hits. With the acuity of Ivan Ilyich and the giddily defiant humor of Lorrie Moore, Scalise swings back at the absurdities and indignities of illness and knocks them flat." Will Boast, author of Epilogue In this stunning memoir, Mike Scalise takes readers on a hilarious and heartfelt journey through the mental and cultural landscape of physical illness. Written with humor, spirit, and artistry, The Brand New Catastrophe will endear you to the confusion at the heart of every personal catastrophe. You'll have no choice but to fall in love with this debut talent. Jen Percy, author of Demon Camp "Mike Scalise's memoir of his diagnosis and coping with acromegaly is smart and compelling, particularly because it acknowledges the tropes and cliches of 'catastrophe narratives.' He crafts his disaster story to give himself an illusion of control over his pituitary abnormality, and his strong, energetic voice subverts expectations about what it means to be ill. This astute memoir is moving without being sentimental." Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them "Mike Scalise's memoir The Brand New Catastrophe depicts a world where one's body is attacking them from the inside. Scalise suffers from acromegaly, a condition he shares with Andre the Giant. Like Andre's, his story is funny, honest, devastating, and human." Box Brown, author of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend "Readers interested in sadness porn, look elsewhere. The Brand New Catastrophe is neither the story of a fallen son trying to right his halo nor a maudlin portrait of romanticized hospital rooms. In flippant, pity-free prose, Mike Scalise details a freak-show diagnosis ("I became a fraction of a fraction of a fraction") with refreshing distance. No fluff, no blame, just an account of how odd life can become in the midst of ongoing illness." Annalia Luna, Brazos Bookstore "As funny as it is harrowing, as poignant as it is unsettling. Scalise is a natural storyteller, the kind of writer I'll follow anywhere after having read The Brand New Catastrophe. Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books "Mike Scalise suffered what he likes to call a catastrophe. Scalise s tale is interesting in amazing ways, the least of which is his easy-going approach to what many would consider the end of ordinary life. Scalise is a glorious writer whose wit takes him to every corner of his peculiar circumstance, and is willing to joyfully take readers through the museum of his peculiar physiology. Reminiscent of Mary Roach and Oliver Sacks. Such a joy. Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Books "show more