The November Criminals
The November Criminals
By Sam Munson
Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385532273, 272pp.
Publication Date: April 20, 2010
A darkly funny, pot-infused novel of teenage maladjustment in the tradition of Beautiful Children from a compelling new voice in American fiction.
For a high school senior, Addison Schacht has a lot of preoccupations. Like getting into college. Selling drugs to his classmates. His complicated relationship with his best friend (NOT his girlfriend) Digger. And he's just added another to the list: the murder of his classmate Kevin Broadus, and his own absurd, obsessive plan to investigate the death. When presented with an essay question on his application to the University of Chicago—What are your best and worst qualities?—Addison finds himself provoked into giving his final, unapologetic say about all of the above and more.
Addison Schacht finds good company among American literature's cadre of unsettled, restless youth, from Huck Finn to Holden Caulfield. The November Criminals takes on the terrain of the classic adolescent truth-telling novel and—with nerve and erudition—carves out its own unique territory.
“I don’t know Sam Munson personally, so I can’t tell you his worst qualities. But I can tell you one of his best: He’s a great, funny, and original writer. Please accept him.”
—A. J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically
"A thoughtful coming-of-age story and an engaging teenage noir....an audacious new writer."—NYTBR, Editor's Choice
“Munson’s first novel justifies the hype that surrounded Doubleday’s purchase of it last year. It has the inventive, expansive flair of Michael Chabon’s best writing and the highbrow-crime intrigue of a Donna Tartt novel.”—Vanity Fair
“Munson is a freewheeling stylist and expert mimic, having installed in his narrator, with dead-on accuracy, the highly developed tragic sense that only an overprivileged 18-year-old can effect … often funny, and his voice stays in your head.”—The Washington Post
“A clever debut starring a stoner, Gen Y Holden-like teen. Sam Munson’s debut novel, narrated by Jewish stoner teen misanthrope Addison Schacht, nails the adolescent voice perfectly while leading us through his stumbling attempt to solve a mystery.”—TheDailyBeast.com
“Sam Munson has written one of the funniest, most heartfelt novels in recent memory—a book every bit as worthy of Mark Twain and J. D. Salinger—about the goodwill and decency that sometimes shrouds itself in adolescent vulgarity and swagger. “—Chicago Tribune
"Debut novelist Munson combines a classic sense of adolescent alienation and a keen comedic voice to depict a bleakly funny teenage wasteland in the wilds of the District of Columbia. The book is structured around the college essay question of one Addison Schacht, a smart 18-year-old high-school senior who supplements the dreary monotony of life in an upper-middle-class D.C. suburb with a sideline selling marijuana to his equally well-off classmates. But Addison fully intends to surpass his peers with a meteoric rise to academic greatness—as a classics major, no less. His only real comrade in his delusional struggle is best friend and soul mate Phoebe "Digger" Zeleny, a funny, sly young woman Addison repeatedly declares is not his girlfriend by any stretch of the imagination. The crime to which our hero devotes himself is the startling death of his classmate Kevin Broadus, gunned down in a coffee shop near the Potomac. Two others were also killed, but the murderer took the time to pump a dozen bullets into Kevin. "You had to figure all the extra bullets…meant something," Addison says. Echoes of James Fuerst’s Huge (2009) and the 2005 film Brick abound, but deft comic timing and a caustic, ambitious protagonist make this a perfectly valid entry in the teen noir subgenre." (Dec.)—Kirkus Reviews