D. Foy’s second novel is a tornado of brutal Americana. Patricide is a heavy metal Huck Finn that whips up the haunted melancholy of Kerouac’s Doctor Sax, a novel of introspection and youth in its corruption that seethes with the deadly obsession of Moby-Dick, and the darkness of Joy Williams’ State of Grace. Beyond the story of a boy growing up in a family derailed by a hapless father, Patricide is a search for meaning and identity within the strange secrecy of the family. This is an existential novel of wild power, of memories, and of mourning-in-life, softened, always, by the tenderness at its core. With it, Foy’s place among the outstanding voices in American literature is guaranteed.
—From the jacket copy of Patricide
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“The absolute best literary novel I read this year. Powerful, smart, gritty. A stunning second novel.”
“This is an existential novel of wild power, of memories, and of mourning-in-life, softened, always, by the tenderness at its core. With it, Foy’s place among the outstanding voices in American literature is guaranteed.”
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In D. Foy’s Patricide, the prose is so sharp and evocative that I feel as if I’m watching camcordered home movies that I both treasure and fear. It is as if Denis Johnson wrote Jesus’ Son with an anvil. There is blood and violence and there is heartbreak and heat and there is life and death on these pages. This book is a conjuring even as it is a killing.
Those of us who’ve been following D. Foy’s writing for a while will be gratified to find, in Patricide, another marvel of emotional intelligence, another heady cocktail of high linguistic invention and vernacular speech. Foy’s writing contains such energy, such sheer firepower, it’s tempting to cast him as a word merchant in the Stanley Elkin vein, a superlative technician working in the dark American shadow of Melville, etc. Only—such a description would omit Foy’s greatest virtue, namely, his wisdom. It’s one thing to describe the bleaker corners of experience with such full-throated vitality, and yet quite another to do so with as much empathy and equipoise. I already knew Foy was a genius. Now I’m beginning to think he’s a saint.
Patricide is a torrent: bruising, beautiful, impossible to shake. D. Foy writes with an intelligence and a ferocity that is exquisitely his own.
—Laura van den Berg
I want to be seared by what I read. Marked. Branded. Every book I open, I want to be changed by what I find inside. Too often that doesn’t happen. With Patricide it did, glory be. If you’re looking for a novel that makes you feel good, don’t pick this one up. But if you want to be marked—if you want an education about life and all its brutality and tenderness—this is the book for you.
The fraught relationship between fathers and sons has been poured over by the likes of Rick Moody, Ivan Turgenev, Steven King, Pat Conroy, Philip Roth, and Cormac McCarthy. What D. Foy does in Patricide is blast fully into the ranks of the masters. A frightening, touching, challenging, and emotionally charged masterpiece.
Patricide is a novel of abuse, addiction, and conflicted love in which D. Foy bends language around the patriarchal until it screams. It’s a knockout of a book. Read it now.
Biting as Beckett and honey-hued as a Tom Waits ramshackle ballad, D. Foy’s Patricide is a spiraling and spiteful spire of memory’s two great gods, nostalgia and blame. With it, Foy has delivered a true work of art—addictive, hypnotic, relentless.
I’m a fan of Foy, not just for the crazy tales he cooks up, but for his formidable use of language. He writes sentences that are both beautiful and volatile at the same time. Patricide, like a lovely concussion, will leave you dizzy and desperate for the next page.
D. Foy’s sentences are a storm, and his second novel thunders its own beautiful, brutal weather. Patricide is a gale-force to be reckoned with.
The literary superstorm that is Patricide reads as though it had been brewing for decades before D. Foy, in a torrent of inspiration, was forced to blow. As Karl Ove Knausgaard explodes life’s quotidian moments with cool, clockwork precision, Foy expands phenomena ecstatic and traumatic to degrees that not only evoke lived experience but transport the reader to their very essence. When finally the novel achieves its full cyclonic shape, you’re caught in its horrid eye, confronted with the kind of diamond-cut awareness typically offered only to the broken, the abused, the fully-surrendered. The screaming inner child—help me, save me, love me—is torn to bits, giving rise to a quietude that demands nothing less than acceptance of things as they are. Foy’s been there, and lives there still, and this book offers up his battered jewel.
—Sean Madigan Hoen
Warning: This book, Patricide, is not messing around. This book is going to take you with it. Do not fight this book, it will win. This book will bite, but you will like it. This book will hurt, but in the best of ways. Do not be afraid of this book. Be thankful D. Foy has made it for us.
Hurricane Father rips through the pages of Patricide. We stand there stunned, surveying the wreckage, only to realize that this is just the eye: another wall of storm is coming—Hurricane Mother, Hurricane Addiction, Hurricane Marriage. D. Foy animates and maps these weather systems of life, but he’s less a meteorologist in a studio than a storm chaser with his head out the window of a van, screaming brilliance dead into the wind.
Patricide is a brooding, painful, and beautifully written book about being raised into damage by a damaged man. D. Foy has given us a how-to guide for the excision of the father and—just barely—the survival of it.
If Patricide is a book in which love and survival are at constant odds, D. Foy is the only one who can broker a truce. Baleful and beautiful, Foy’s words braid a destructive tapestry that gets at the heart of what it means to grow up in a world that won’t have you. It’s also a story of resilience and resistance on a razor’s edge. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop, no matter how much it hurts.
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Jeff Jackson reviews Patricide at in Fanzine: Patricide is a remarkably timely story given our current toxic political climate . . . Foy places readers at the center of these turbulent confrontations, witnesses to the characters’ compulsions and bad choices. As you turn the pages, unable to look away from the compounding damage, a radical empathy accrues for these battered people . . . Patricide is a primal howl of a novel that slowly – as your ears become attuned – sounds like a classic aria.
Gabino Iglesias reviews Patricide at Electric Literature: “D. Foy’s Patricide, his second novel, is an unusual hybrid that pushes against the edges of literary fiction with the unfiltered violence, frustration, and angst typically found in noir novels but does so with an elegance and lyricism that echo giants like Cormac McCarthy and Walt Whitman . . . Behind the blitzkrieg of ideas and lyricism, Patricide is a celebration of language. Foy constantly alternates between writing that sustains conversations with thinkers like Foucault and Freud and one-line paragraphs that rival David Foster Wallace’s most vivacious passages. This is writing that erupts like a volcano of words and then folds in on itself only to begin the explosive process all over again.”
Daulton Dickey reviews Patricide at The Rumpus: In a world where we heap praises on writers who focus on middle-class people with middle-class problems, writers such as D. Foy, and novels such as Patricide, are rare, welcome, and refreshing . . . Foy thrusts us into a raw and detached world, one free of ornamentation and contrived emotions. It’s a tone you’ll only encounter in writers who dominate their craft.
Benjamin Woodard reviews Patricide at Rain Taxi: “Patricide rumbles with violence, even when there’s none to be seen on the page. A dark, brave, complicated tale, it speaks to the rages that linger in men through generations, confronting the lashes provoked by cowardice, power, and addiction, and the crippled bonds that string fathers and sons together . . . These bursts surge like a wild river, increasing the very pace in which each syllable is consumed . . . Even when he’s not writing in this direct method, speeding up or slowing down time, Foy uses sharp, playful language and shrewd pop culture references to tell Pat’s travails . . . These narrative choices are brilliant, and they prove that, if Foy were a preacher, he’d have his congregation sitting on the edges of their pews every Sunday, hanging on the charm of his words.”
David Breithaupt reviews Patricide at the Los Angeles Review of Books: Foy has written a father and son tale for our time, in a lyrical and philosophical mode that makes this old story new . . . Foy has a prose style that matches his subject matter — it shakes and rattles the reader, switching from first to third person and jumping around in chronology. This is a war story and how one may or may not survive it.
J.S. Breukelaar reviews Patricide at The Nervous Breakdown: “Patricide inhabits this no-man’s land between dreams and their dreamers, a realm of drooling ghosts who refuse to speak their (father’s) name. Patricide refuses forgiveness because there is nothing to forgive. It refuses judgement in the best documentary tradition that contends that any moral high ground is a travesty. . . Is this a bleak novel? Hardly. It is glorious. Not only because of its lyricisms that are a cauldron of Ginsberg, Whitman, Bukowski, Dickinson, Duras and Beckett, but also because of its Penrose Stair-like structure that is Escher-like in its possible impossibility—a metaphor for the father itself.”
David Rice reviews Patricide at Entropy: “Patricide is an epic . . . Though it pulls no punches, Patricide summons great empathy in its examination of the ways in which we all err, and are united more by our shortcomings than our successes . . . Foy’s prose achieves a beautiful fusion of the casual and the portentous, turning one man’s squalid life into a fable of exile and return, without ever losing the sense that these events really happened, or are really happening as we read them. This fusion is so strong that epigraphs from W.G. Sebald, Thomas Hobbes, and R.D. Laing, among many others, don’t feel ironic at the heads of chapters about playground fights, petty theft, and electric guitars. Consistently working in both registers, Patricide is a formidable work of art, bridging the conversational intimacy of memoir with the ambition of a large, complex novel of ideas.”
Tyler Malone reviews Patricide at Literary Hub: “Brutal beauty and beautiful brutality abound in D. Foy’s latest novel, Patricide, where memory and its more colorful companions—regret, blame, guilt, nostalgia, mourning, veneration, repression, trauma, dread, introspection, recurrence, reflection, truth—take center stage. Foy sculpts his novel with, simultaneously, the blunt force of a hammer, the soft touch of a brush, and the sharp precision of a scalpel. His sentences stay with you; his questions infect your thoughts. “Where do they come from, your memories? Where have the images that make your memories been hiding across the years?” You could cite influences here—everyone from Samuel Beckett to Gertrude Stein, Franz Kafka to Herman Melville, Witold Gombrowicz to Jack Kerouac—but as much as D. Foy’s writing is a memory of those pasts, it is also something that feels fresh, new, alive.”
John Domini reviews Patricide at The Brooklyn Rail: “The style of Patricide proves, throughout, its wildest gambit. Foy works against the prevailing currents of literary culture, refusing to be a smart aleck . . . It’s a daunting pileup, for some readers—but for me the stuff of the Watts Towers. To visit the Towers, too, a person’s got to travel through a slum, often violent, and yet the place proves transcendent . . . Foy has brought off a new brand of the American tragedy, baroquely layered and yet defying gravity.”
Michael T. Fournier reviews Patricide at the Chicago Review of Books: “Patricide is a brutal revelation . . . The mental metamorphosis is difficult, even grisly, but there’s much more to this one than brutality for its own sake: fragmented reportage becomes something resembling cohesive redemption by its end . . . a contradiction of its own, the ability to break from the grooved path of lineage to the frightening unfamiliarity of love and self-care.”
Julie Hart reviews Patricide at Ploughshares: In Patricide, Foy speaks beautifully, in hauntingly poetic prose—repetition-rich, yet always reaching deeper—of the difficulty humans have in trying to love others, even love life, when they have had no experience of being loved. Our protagonist, somehow, after a litany of failures to love, does come through the experience. His story is so wrenching, but ultimately not depressing, because of his commitment to understanding himself. And we the readers gain from this long and fruitful struggle.
Matt E. Lewis reviews Patricide at Volume 1 Brooklyn: “Patricide is a literary gut-punch on the most personal of levels . . . It will take the most traumatizing memory of your childhood and beat you to a pulp with it. Then it will stand you up, dust you off, and walk away without a single word of remorse. Only then will you be ready to begin . . . I suggest you delve into the book itself, and appreciate what D. Foy has gone through to bring into the world – a truly American classic about the failure we try to ignore, and the survival we are capable of.”
Michael Shattuck reviews Patricide at JMWW: “Much praise has been sung of Foy’s hand at the line level and I cannot add anything to its commendations; from where I sit, the acclaim is, in my not at all humble opinion, completely accurate and better expressed than I may try to. Take everyone’s word for how good the prose is . . . The narrator’s memories, his childhood, his parents, his lovers, friends, enemies, bullies, memories of other’s memories, the recalled feelings, sights, sounds, smells, of any moment, are all etherized on the page . . . Probing the emotional, situational, and motivating factors of a single moment are wonders to read. I could read a whole book like this. These vignettes are no less well-crafted, no less loaded with meaning than the more stylized segments. Together they give the book a delirious range of reading experience.”
Patricide reviewed at Chronogram: “Brutally abused by both of his parents, the haunted narrator Patricide battles addiction, relationships, and ‘my father’s giant Voice’ like a gonzo gladiator. This raw-whisky novel by the acclaimed author of ‘Made to Break’ is a rough ride in a golden chariot. Foy’s sentences soar. ‘Then a velveteen roar mounted in his head, a hundred thousand sirens singing in the belly of a dreaming cave.’”
Patricide reviewed at CLASH Media: “This is the best literary novel you’ll read this year. Foy delivers in a way that makes other literary fiction authors cry when no one is looking.”
Rob Hart on Patricide at LitReactor: “D. Foy’s voice is unlike anything else on the shelves today . . . His second novel, Patricide, is . . . the kind of book that tells you its story by grabbing you by the back of the neck and pulling you close; both intimate and intense.”
Will Chancellor on Patricide at Electric Literature: “There’s real genius in how Foy renders the elevated stakes of young adulthood. Your pulse will quicken with each transgression, or even the thought of transgression. And just like his first novel, Patricide will become your world while you’re in its pages.”
Tobias Carroll reviews Patricide at Volume 1 Brooklyn: “Made to Break, D. Foy’s first novel, examined the tensions and fissures within a group of friends as they went on a trip that turned harrowing. For his second novel, Patricide, Foy narrows the scope and shifts his lens to the topic of family—as the title suggests, a particularly wrenching father/son relationship, conveyed with a blend of visceral detail and philosophical nuance.”
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