Sam Munson The November Criminals: A novel

ISBN 13: 9780385532273

The November Criminals: A novel

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9780385532273: The November Criminals: A novel

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.

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Review:

Addison Schacht Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Addison Schacht is a lot of things: high-school student, drug dealer, aspiring classicist, amateur private eye, as well as being the narrator of The November Criminals. He's got a lot to say on every subject. Below, he takes on the Proust Questionnaire.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
No such thing.

What is your greatest fear?
That no-one will listen to me, even though I know I'm right. And death. I'm terrified of dying.

What historical figure do you identify with the most?
The Greek warrior Neoptolemus. You're totally baffled by that, I can just tell.

Which living person do you most admire?
Even if I told you her name, you wouldn't know who she was, but that's private, so I'm not telling.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
That I'm a November Criminal. As I already said. At considerable length. If you're confused, read my essay.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
See above. (But they won't admit it.)

What is your greatest extravagance?
It was a gun, but I don't have it anymore. So I guess nothing.

On what occasion do you lie?
On what occasion don't I lie?

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I'd have to go with: whatever element of my appearance it is that makes people think I like answering their stupid questions.

Where and when were you happiest?
Four years old, just waking up in bed, hearing the rain. Don't remember the exact day or month.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'd like to be taller. Although I guess my father is tall and it hasn't helped him any.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
My father. No, I take that back: I'd want my mother to be alive.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Senior year, this girl I went to high school with, Alex Faustner, won an essay prize and got to make this ridiculous acceptance speech. I--without going too deeply into detail--ruined it. And I mean just absolutely, completely wrecked it, caused this whole small catastrophe, for which I got suspended.

If you died and came back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Whoa, Jerry Garcia, Jr.--what a penetrating question! I don't believe in reincarnation, it's always seemed even more cowardly than the idea of an afterlife. Since you're making me choose, though, I would say a sea otter. They have it pretty good, it seems to me.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Loeb Classical Library edition of the Aeneid.

What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?
English class. Or possibly my English teacher.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Did you know that word comes from Greek, originally? The word heros, meaning hero. It's the same word in Latin, but it's declined differently. The Romans, who were a bunch of culture thieves, sometimes just blatantly stole words from the Greeks like that. (The technical philological term for such a word is calque.) Unsettling, right? I mean, if not even words are immune to theft, what's the point of writing at all?

What is it that you most dislike?
You'll be here all day if I answer truthfully.

How would you like to die?
I wouldn’t.

What is your motto?
Anyone who tells you they have a motto should be laughed at.

About the Author:

SAM MUNSON's writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Times Literary Supplement, among other venues. He is the former online editor of Commentary magazine, and he graduated from the University of Chicago in 2003. He lives in New York City.

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