Random House, Hardcover, 9781400066056, 240pp.
Publication Date: April 10, 2007
American Youth is a controlled, essential, and powerful tale of a teenager in southern New England who is confronted by a terrible moral dilemma following a firearms accident in his home. This tragedy earns him the admiration of a sinister gang of boys at his school and a girl associated with them. Set in a town riven by social and ideological tensions–an old rural culture in conflict with newcomers–this is a classic portrait of a young man struggling with the idea of identity and responsibility in an America ill at ease with itself.
Phil LaMarche was a writing fellow in the Syracuse University graduate creative writing program. He was awarded the Ivan Klíma Fellowship in fiction in Prague and a Summer Literary Seminars fellowship in St. Petersburg, Russia. His story “In the Tradition of My Family,” published in the spring 2005 edition of Ninth Letter and the 2005 Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize Stories anthology, has been made into a film by orLater Productions. He lives in central New York state.
“American Youth is a novel that demonstrates par excellence that the best writing is sometimes the simplest. A story of the individual, a story of America, it is one of those (all too) rare books that has stayed with me long after reading the last page.”
“The most compelling and exciting debut novel in years. What an amazing, gratifying book–we are lucky to have it. LaMarche proves that there are still young geniuses among us, wringing new life from the novel.”
—George Saunders, author of Pastoralia
“Men have never written about becoming a man as Phil LaMarche does in this page-turning debut. He’s the new Cormac McCarthy-in-waiting, wielding firearms with a muscular prose also evocative of Hemingway. The story runs hot as a pistol bore all the way through, with characters you can’t bear to leave. LaMarche’s
book is a heartfelt offering to the world.”
—Mary Karr, author of The Liar’s Club