When Matthew, a forty-something media executive, finds his job, health, and marriage crumbling, he goes native: Lives in his car. Dips his toe in drug-running. Contemplates song lyrics. Takes a really good pottery class. Before long he’s on a stumbling, agonizingly funny vision quest that takes him from a strip-mall parking lot to Yellowstone National Park to a Bali medical clinic, from an unlikely romance with a Hollywood agent specializing in hot young vampire roles to extreme RVing with a disgraced Wall Street trader.
In this heroic and hilarious debut novel, Dan Kennedy gives us an everyman who takes us to the neon-lit edges of contemporary American life.
"If it’s hard to make the premise of American Spirit—unemployed man spends his days drinking in parking lot—sound interesting, imagine how much more difficult it would be to write it compellingly. But Kennedy does exactly that. Dark humor pervades the voyage of the down-and-out white-collar professional Matthew, who struggles on his diet of thin self-deception to avoid plunging into the morass beneath: the failure of his marriage, career, and health. This is the crash after the main event, showing that one man’s fight to keep going can be every bit as enthralling as what happened to get him to the bottom. Much of the time Matthew is drunk or high, his Woolfian ramblings undercut with the barely recognized knowledge that he is not actually holding things together. This is the eponymous American spirit—foolhardy, even dangerous, but surprisingly beautiful at times—an apt description for the novel itself. Following two memoirs, Kennedy’s fiction debut is a full-throttle, white-knuckle adventure into a land of destroyed dreams, a land whose residents are so confident it makes the normal people seem crazy."—Bridget Thoreson, *Booklist*
"Matthew’s stoned, stream-of-consciousness ramblings are laugh-out-loud funny, yet interspersed with passages of startling and poignant beauty. Highly recommended, especially for fans of other sharp, iconoclastic authors like Jay McInerney, Douglas Coupland, and Eric Bogosian."—Library Journal
"Dan Kennedy not only manages to craft bitter, effective comedy out of life’s darker corners—egregious substance abuse, financial collapse, depression and death but he makes it look easy."—Washington Independent Review of Books
"Kennedy (Rock On), host of The Moth storytelling series, has far surpassed the creation of character and conjured an entity so alive in its knowledge of impending death that we're captured in a new idea of what it's like to live."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Dan Kennedy's debut novel American Spirit* impresses with dark humor and the immersive world of its struggling middle-aged protagonist." —Largehearted Boy
"American Spirit is very funny and has a finger pressed on the pulse of something current and weird. Reading this book reminds of of how I felt upon reading Bright Lights Big City, or Generation X, great books with aimless contemporary heros. If you've ever seen Dan Kennedy on stage, you know he can entertain like crazy, and dammit he can do it with the written word as well!"—Arthur Bradford, author of *Dogwalker
“American Spirit reminds us of the fearsome beauty in a free meditation class, that the right slogan on a coffee mug can change your life. This sneakily soulful novel from Dan Kennedy will make you howl out loud and believe in second chances all over again.”—Benjamin Anastas, author of Too Good to Be True
"Dan Kennedy is the laugh-out-loud Proust of American post-youth strivers.”—Jerry Stahl, author of *I, Fatty*
Praise for Dan Kenney’s book Rock On: An Office Power Ballad:
"Fast-moving and darkly funny, Rock On should be a chart topper."—People 4 of 4 stars
"Imagine a love child born of The Office and High Fidelity.” *—USA Today
"Pitch-perfect...brilliant, hysterical and insightful.” —The New York Post