“Michael Deagler is the real deal. This novel is surprising in all the best ways. The actions of the complex and complicated people in this world are not predictable, but always, frighteningly, believable. Deagler writes with great control and understatement. This is a truly intelligent work from a clearly intelligent writer.” —Percival Everett, 2023 Windham Campbell Prize recipient and author of Dr. No
“Deagler’s debut pulls in a reader with such an inviting clarity—there’s something about the honesty in this voice that creates a lot of room for the reader to feel and makes for an illuminating and moving read.” —Aimee Bender, author of The Butterfly Lampshade
Don’t worry about what Dennis Monk did when he was drinking. He’s sober now, and ready to rejoin the world of leases and paychecks, reciprocal friendships and healthy romances—if only the world would agree to take him back. When Monk’s working-stiff parents kick him out of their suburban home, mere months into his frangible sobriety, the 26-year-old spends his first dry summer couch surfing through South Philadelphia, struggling to find a place for himself in the throng of adulthood.
Monk’s haphazard pilgrimage leads him through a city in flux: growing, gentrifying, haunted by its past and its unrealized potential. Everyone he knows seems to be doing better than him—and most of them aren’t even doing that well. His run-ins with former classmates, estranged drinking buddies, and prospective lovers reveal that recovery is not the happy ending he’d expected, only a fraught next chapter.
Early Sobrieties is the eloquent confessional of an addict who is lost and found, then lost again. Like a sober, millennial Jesus’ Son, Michael Deagler’s debut novel offers an existential trek into the enigma of sobriety itself, and a narrator in need of just a little more grace.