Early Sobrieties

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Like a sober millennial Jesus’ Son, Michael Deagler’s debut is a quarterlife bildungsroman following a former blackout drunk who returns to Philadelphia for his first alcohol-free summer

Dennis Monk is 26, a college graduate, and a former blackout drunk. Once, he planned on being a writer. Now, he mostly works menial jobs as he puzzles over how to exist in the world as a sober person. He’s spent the last few months living at his parents’ house in the Philadelphia suburbs, but after they kick him out, he returns to the temptations of city life and a summer of couch surfing across South Philadelphia.

Monk makes his humbling pilgrimage through a Philadelphia itself in an awkward state of change; growing, gentrifying, maturing in baffling and humiliating and wonderful ways; haunted by its past as well as its unrealized potential. A few of Monk’s schoolmates have gotten nice jobs and moved out of state, but many have failed that millennial imperative for geographic and social mobility. His adventures with former friends and lovers reveal that sobriety is not the happy ending of his confusion but merely a new, just-as-messy chapter. What if you quit drinking and that alone makes you no happier, no kinder, no better at life? From where does one seek his salvation then—and where can a weary traveler lay his head?

Michael Deagler’s Early Sobrieties is a second coming-of-age story, a wry but poignant meditation on the sublime, confessional, redemptive power of a writer, at last, finding the right words.

Story Locale: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Additional information

Author

Michael Deagler

Publication Date

May 7, 2024

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