Anthony James weighs 315 pounds, is possibly schizophrenic, and he’s just been kicked out of college. He’s rescued by his mother, sister, and grandmother, but they may not be altogether sane themselves. Living in the basement of their home in Queens, New York, Anthony is armed with nothing but wicked sarcasm and a few well-cut suits. He intends to make horror movies but takes the jobs he can handle, cleaning homes and factories, and keeps crossing paths with a Japanese political prisoner, a mysterious loan shark named Ishkabibble, and packs of feral dogs. When his invincible 13-year old sister enters yet another beauty pageant—this one for virgins—the combustible Jameses pile into their car and head South for the competition. Will Anthony’s family stick together or explode? With electrifying prose, LaValle ushers us into four troubled but very funny lives.
About The Ecstatic
Victor LaValle has already established himself as “one of the most eloquent voices of the approaching century” (Kirkus Reviews), a writer of darkly humorous tales full of haunting beauty, astonishing leaps of imagination, and language that “crackles and hums” (Chicago Tribune). The Ecstatic is LaValle’s debut novel, a startling tale of love, horror, sex, insanity, faith, morbid obesity, and the modern American family.
Something is wrong with Anthony—our 318-pound hero—and it’s getting worse. A monster has caught his uncle and his mother; now it wants Anthony. Mental illness has been transmitted through his family’s blood. The three women in his life—his mother, younger sister, and grandmother—find him naked and disoriented in his off-campus college apartment and take him home to Queens, each determined to fix him in her own peculiar way. But his presence soon turns their house into a semisuburban asylum.
Sweet but wickedly sarcastic, smart and heartbreakingly vulnerable, Anthony narrates his family’s surreal adventures through a world of grinning exploitation and fake cures, from storefront evangelists and neighborhood loan sharks to bogus beauty pageants and bootleg medical clinics. He corresponds with a dreadlocked Japanese militant, is haunted by a vicious pack of dogs, and tries to make his own horror movie, all in search of an answer to a question he doesn’t dare ask. Written in the tradition of misfit picaresques from Journey to the End of the Night and Invisible Man to A Confederacy of Dunces and The World According to Garp, The Ecstatic is the revelatory story of a family trying to save themselves from a ravenous world and their own unraveling minds.
Victor LaValle is the author of six previous works of fiction: three novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories. His novels have been included in best-of-the-year lists by The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, The… More about Victor LaValle
About Victor La Valle
Victor LaValle is the author of the short-story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, winner of the PEN Open Book award. He has also been awarded the key to Southeastern Queens. He lives in New York and teaches writing at Columbia University.