Publishers Weekly: Starred Review, and Pick of the Week: May 19, 2014
Sag Harbor: The Permanent Press, 2014
A Moveable Famine is a quick, sly, outrageously funny novel about poets and poetry. I laughed out loud more times than I could count. John Skoyles writes with great humility and wicked wicked wicked wit. I love this book.
— Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown.
In this rangy, beautiful memoir, John Skoyles—page by page, word by word, paying close attention to the particulars of this world—becomes a poet before our eyes.
— Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.
Holden Caulfield in an MFA program? John Skoyles’ A Moveable Famine is a picaresque and hilarious tale of youth regarded from a distance, a novel of romantic, literary and social misadventure and initiation. I think it would be impossible for any writer to read this book without breaking into frequent fits of laughter, as I did, at the cluelessness of our narrator, learning the ropes. It is also one of the best accounts that I know of writerly culture in the time of the seventies and eighties. Did I mention that A Moveable Famine is hilarious?
— Tony Hoagland, author of What Narcissism Means to Me and Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft.
In his autobiographical novel, A Moveable Famine, John Skoyles recounts an anecdote about a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop who rates stories by their number of laughs. It’s a method I’d employ in rating Skoyles’ novel except that I lost count of the laughter long before I was halfway through the book. In his personal account of the collision between life and art, Skoyles writes with candor, energy, irreverence, and the high spirits that remind me of a trilogy I have long considered the standard for American comic fiction—Henry Miller’s The Rosy Crucifixion.
— Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed With Magellan
To John Skoyles, his improbable life among poets, would-be poets, and ex-poets may have been a famine, but for the reader his memoir is a rich and delicious banquet. Those of us who write non-fiction are so much more boring (and somewhat more sober) than the poets in Skoyles’s world — but I wish Skoyles would write about us, too. This book is funny, revealing, wise… and did I say funny?
— Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.
For anyone who’s interested in the process of becoming a writer—not to mention that of becoming a man—John Skoyles’ A Moveable Famine will be a must read. I wish it’d been around when I was young and still trying to figure out how to do both.
— Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls