EXES: A NOVEL (April 11th, 2017)
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 failed actor impersonates a former movie star; 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.
Praise for Exes
“The immersive and accomplished debut novel by Winter is haunted as much by the city of Providence, R.I., as it is by the suicide of Eli, brother of Clay Blackall, one of several narrators in this novel in fragments who each provide insight into why Eli might have ended his life. Providence serves as the backdrop for Clay’s doomed search for answers, and the novel is peppered with local lore that subtly intersects Clay and Eli’s family history. Both an appreciation and evisceration of Providence and its residents, the novel straddles the line between humor and tragedy in each of its disparate parts…. brilliantly unique and incisive.” ― Publishers Weekly
“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
“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 and A Guide to Being Born
Rights: Catapult, North America
MAX WINTER is a graduate of UC Irvine’s MFA program, and a recipient of two Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Fiction. He has been published in Day One and Diner Journal. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife and son.