Exes: A Novel by Max Winter
"Powerful. . . . Exes, among other things, is an amazing feat of plotting and engineering, an elaborate puzzle of a book that brings to mind Alan Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests for the intricacy of its carefully calibrated interlocking connections. . . . [A] heartbreaking novel about the devastations of severed attachments." —NPR
“This novel is a hot-heeled tango dance of desperation and humor, fight and grace. Max Winter is a heart-stopper and a showstopper of a writer. Stop everything and read Exes.” —Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
“Ferocious, gritty, hilarious, and near-impossible to put down, Exes will make you laugh and break your heart at the same time.” —Matt Sumell, author of Making Nice
“There is so much blunt beauty in Max Winter’s Exes, so much confidence in the prose and the pacing, that it is easy to miss the bomb he slips into each story until it detonates, taking with it any careful distance you’ve tried to maintain.” —Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
“Fans of David Foster Wallace’s The Broom of the System will find this novel-in-fragments to be equally irreverent and peppered with a similarly absurd cast of characters. . . . It begs readers to ask what seemingly futile details mean in the context of life and suicide.”
For Clay Blackall, a lifelong resident of Providence, Rhode Island, the place has become an obsession. Here live the only people who can explain what happened to his brother, Eli, whose suicide haunts this heartbreaking, hilarious novel-in-fragments. A former movie star impersonates himself; an ex-con looks after a summer home perched atop a rock in the bay; a broken-hearted Salutatorian airs thirteen years’ worth of dirty laundry at his school’s commencement; an adjunct struggles to make room for her homeless and self-absorbed mother while revisiting a salacious high school love affair; a recent widower, with the help of a clever teen, schemes to rid his condo’s pond of Canada geese. Clay compiles their stories, invasively providing context in the form of footnotes that lead always, somehow, back to Eli. Behind Clay’s task — which seems insane, definitely doomed, and, as the pages turn, increasingly suspect — burns his desire to understand his brother‘s death and the city that has defined and ruined them both.
Full of brainy detours and irreverent asides, Exes is a powerful investigation of grief, love, and our deeply held yet ever-changing notions of home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Max Winter is a graduate of UC Irvine’s MFA program, a recipient of two Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Fiction, and a finalist for the 2012 MacColl Johnson Fellowship. He contributed to the Webby Award-winning narrative app The Silent History (Ying Horowitz & Quinn, 2012), edited the literary journal Faultline, and has been published in Day One and Diner Journal. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his wife and son.