Vexation Lullaby

A Novel

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9781936787388 | Paperback 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | 400 pages Buy it Now

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9781936787395 | Ebook | 400 pages Buy it Now

Book Description

Winner of the 2017 Maine Literary Award for Fiction • One of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month, April 2016

“Justin Tussing rocks the rock novel. Vexation Lullaby is pure raw pleasure from start to finish.”—Lily King, author of Euphoria

Peter Silver is a young doctor treading water in the wake of a breakup—his ex–girlfriend called him a “”mama’s boy”” and his best friend considers him a “”homebody,”” a squanderer of adventure. But when he receives an unexpected request for a house call, he obliges, only to discover that his new patient is aging, chameleonic rock star Jimmy Cross. Soon Peter is compelled to join the mysteriously ailing celebrity, his band, and his entourage, on the road. The so–called “”first physician embedded in a rock tour,”” Peter is thrust into a way of life that embraces disorder and risk rather than order and discipline.

Trailing the band at every tour stop is Arthur Pennyman, Cross’s number–one fan. Pennyman has not missed a performance in twenty years, sacrificing his family and job to chronicle every show on his website. Cross insists that “”being a fan is how we teach ourselves to love,”” and, in the end, Pennyman does learn. And when he hears a mythic, as–yet–unperformed song he starts to piece together the puzzle of Peter’s role in Cross’s past.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

An Amazon Editorial Best Book of April (Fiction and Literature)“If rock celebrities are projections of their fans' fears and desires, then what Justin Tussing has done in his second novel—about an enigmatic old–timer who bears traces of Dylan and Springsteen—is turn the projector around. With a perfect ear and dry tongue, Tussing nails the ragged star Jimmy Cross and his populist poetry, but his central subjects are two men who become entangled with his never–ending tour. . . . Their stories converge with a sweetness that feels earned.” —Boris Kachka,'s Vulture, “8 Books You Need to Read This April”

"Justin Tussing's second novel is a clever, satisfying story about the struggle to find meaning in the lives we've made for ourselves. . . . Tussing uses startling and memorable details to punctuate scenes with a cinematic flourish, and he is particularly adept at using dialogue to reveal how much we actually aren't saying to each other. And the ending is dazzling." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Tender, acerbic and carefully observed. . . . As its title suggests, Vexation Lullaby can be both prickly and soothing. Its graceful language, sharp character work and open heart bring home life on the road and leaves the reader satisfied with the trip.” —Michael Berry, Portland Press Herald

“It's precisely [the] role musicians play in defining and preserving who we are that receives the attention in Justin Tussing's inviting second novel, Vexation Lullaby. . . . Cue road trips and rabble rousing, which Tussing lovingly captures with much attention–to–detail. . . . In one memorable paragraph, he runs through a whole lexicon of terms for musical paraphernalia. . . . A novel that reminds us that looking to celebrities and mass culture for the answers to the all–important questions of who we are will, in the end, only ever lead us astray. Still, we can always look to Justin Tussing.” —Simon Chandler, Electric Literature

"Tussing is less interested in writing a rock novel than a road novel—that is, a story about how the highway is a path to finding your home... Tussing delivers [Vexation Lullaby] with wit and speed, and he recognizes that what's most interesting about stardom is what takes place offstage. An offbeat novel that's savvy about both music and emotional insecurity." —Kirkus Reviews

“Justin Tussing's Vexation Lullaby is a beautifully written rock novel, filled with poignancy and wit.” —Largehearted Boy

"Justin Tussing rocks the rock novel. Vexation Lullaby is a major literary stunner and pure raw pleasure from start to finish." —Lily King, author of Euphoria

"Rock and roll can save your life in this electric novel, and it does—just not in any way you'd expect. Vital as a bass line, soaring as a guitar riff, Vexation Lullaby will have you holding up your lighter for more." —Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Wonderland

"Vexation Lullaby is as brilliant, wry, and irresistible as the enigmatic musical genius at its ever–shifting center. Justin Tussing's aim is true, and his beautifully fleet language goes right to the heart of the profound, nameless yearning that sends his characters into the voluntary exile of life on the road." —Sarah Shun–lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles and Madeleine is Sleeping

"A mesmerizing book—terrifically fast, funny, and snapping with original observation on every page. In Vexation Lullaby, superstardom is a curse, but fandom—throwing yourself shamelessly at the artist you love—becomes an act of sacred lunacy. The writing is so good in this novel you want to read it aloud for Tussing's music."—Salvatore Scibona, author of the National Book Award Finalist, The End