A Moveable Famine

A Moveable Famine

A Moveable Famine

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

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