Coming this November from ANTIBOOKCLUB, Ben Greenman’s Don Quixotic, a trenchantly philosophical and sharply satirical exploration of the inner musings of Donald J. Trump.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER
“I don’t know if he’s a monster—but I want to try to think it through,” Ben said from across the table. I gripped my fork knuckle-white to keep from dropping it. We had met for lunch to discuss his new work of fiction, a collection of linked short pieces written from inside the president’s head. I was on edge about the concept. With the president’s public proclamations accumulating at such an alarming rate, what was the best time to schedule such a work? Would we appear opportunistic? Did we need yet another anything about this creep? If ANTI was going to publish a book about Trump, I was determined to make it different, unexpected, genuinely surprising. That moment, the question of how to explore his monstrosity, became my tipping point. How was Ben able to see past the rage we all felt and humanize the guy, while still expressing the frustration and sometimes terror of living in Trump's America? This was clearly not about going the easy route. I was simultaneously curious and uncomfortable. So I said yes.
Don Quixotic is a series of absurdist but plausible microfictions that turn on one massive fact—that the president is, if an outsized monster, also an ordinary human being.
Now, months later, as we approach publication (scheduled to coincide with the one-year anniversary of that fateful November that put Donald J. Trump into the White House) my curiosity and discomfort has crystallized into excitement—mixed, still, with discomfort. As the president rampages through the news cycle, calling the truth lies, self-identifying as a witch, I am reminded that literature should address the most difficult questions. “Why Trump?” is one. “What is Trump?” is another. Books should poke and prod. They should lift us from our comforts and challenge us to see ourselves and others from a different perspective. Seeing Trump as a three-dimensional man, even as he resists the classification with his own confounding actions, is a revolutionary act, but also one that looks back to other works of art like Philip Roth's Nixon-era satire Our Gang.
Don Quixotic looks inside Trump’s mind, and finds a Byzantine series of self-justifications, along with an array of odd obsessions, not to mention pain, pleasure, trivia, and consequence.
In the midst of writing this press release, our dear president has, via Twitter, threatened nuclear war with North Korea. My stomach is churning. Should we scramble to revise, as we had to several times throughout the making of this book? This book could very well become a Borgesian trap—never publishing, forever revising, always distended by reality. But, as with all books, there comes a point where we must let go. Books are not truly finished. They are only abandoned. This book is now abandoned to the world.
Don Quixotic is both provocation and keepsake. It is both experimental and traditional. It is literature that will both catch fire in the moment and last as long as humans have questions about the minds and motives of other humans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Greenman is a New York Times–bestselling author who has written both nonfiction and fiction. He is the author of several acclaimed works of fiction, including the novel The Slippage and the short-story collections What He’s Poised to Do and Superbad. He is the co-author of the bestselling Mo’ Meta Blues with Questlove, the bestselling I Am Brian Wilson with Brian Wilson, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? with George Clinton, and more. His fiction, essays, and journalism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere, and have been widely anthologized. His most recent book is Dig If You Will The Picture, a meditation on the life and career of Prince.
PRAISE FOR BEN GREENMAN
"Brilliant and wry." —Karen Russell
"Incapable of writing anything dry or familiar or expected. He is one of the most versatile, consistently surprising writers at work today." —Dave Eggers
"He writes sentences so sharp they hurt." —Jess Walter
"What a fine and unique writer Ben Greenman is. I love his sentences, his precision. I feel like he’s absorbed and digested so much great literature, distilling it all to create his own fantastic universe of stories and ideas." —Jonathan Ames
"Ben Greenman's mind contains, among other things, a literary critic, a cultural commentator, a cowboy, a satirist, a scientist, a surrealist, a nut, a genius, a child prodigy, and a poet." —Susan Minot
"Like Bruno Schulz, George Saunders, Donald Barthelme, and no one else I can think of, Greenman has the power to be whimsical without resorting to whimsy." —Darin Straus