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Wolf in White Van (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Pulsating at the core of John Darnielle’s debut novel is a subtle mystery: how did our mangled protagonist end up the way he did? But behind and around all that is a more profound pursuit of the meaning inside the current American experience. What is it in this modern life that produces such a deep and profound stricture on existence and promotes such longing and angst? Why do we want so much for and need such a clear definition of ourselves and the truth that is embedded inside of that struggle? A tale that presents itself as the story of one recluse and his coping mechanism for the tragedy of his own life turns out to be a statement about life itself. Wolf in White Van is the best book I’ve read all year, and maybe the best I will read for several years to come.

Full article here.

— Mark (For the Courier-Journal Best of 2014 List)

A story that operates as a window into one reclusive mind, but speaks volumes about the whole of humanity, Darnielle's debut novel is damn near flawless. Its message and meaning adapt and change with more and more attention and grip hard at something hidden within.

— From Mark's Picks

October 2014 Indie Next List

“Darnielle is an outstanding storyteller writing about lives on the outside edges of society and the extreme moments in those lives. Sean, the narrator of Wolf in White Van, has had an isolated existence since he was disfigured at the age of 17. As the creator of a mail-based role-playing game called Trace Italian, Sean influences the lives of others in unexpected, unintended ways. Wolf in White Van is captivating, haunting, and powerful. Highly recommended!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI


A New York Times Bestseller
Nominated for the National Book Award, Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, and Winner of the Alex Award, "One of the Most Compelling Books of the Year" (Blake Butler, Vice)

Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to explore. As the creator of "Trace Italian"-a text-based role-playing game that's played through the mail-Sean guides subscribers through his intricately imagined terrain, turn by turn, as they search out sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. But when Lance and Carrie, two teenaged seekers of the Trace, take their play outside the game, disaster strikes, and Sean is called on to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, toward the beginning and the climax: the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.

Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, Wolf in White Van is "an indelible novel, a hymn for those who inhabit lonely universes, and a harbor for anyone who has sought refuge in a reality other than their own" (Patrick deWitt).

About the Author

John Darnielle is a writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats; he is widely considered one of the best lyricists of his generation. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and son.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250074713
ISBN-10: 1250074711
Publisher: Picador USA
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Pages: 224
Language: English