A rumination on survival, queer aging, and estrangement that was a finalist for the Republic of Consciousness Prize.
My dead friends are back. I lie in bed at night and see them.
Haunted by insomnia and the past as he approaches his fiftieth birthday, the narrator of My Dead Book flips through scenes of his youth and memories of dozens of friends who are no longer with him. Living alone and working odd jobs in Wisconsin, he ruminates on survival, queer aging, his years as a teenage throwaway, and estrangement, wondering whether he has outlived his place in the world.
First published in 2021, Lippens's debut novel was hailed as “a brutally acerbic novel of queer pessimism” (Donna Marcus, AnOther Magazine). As Lindsay Lerman observed in Southwest Review, “My Dead Book is not transgressive because it follows a gay man as he struggles to survive on the fringes of multiple worlds. … It is continually transgressing. It's a living book (a living dead book), moving around in time, making tangential connections.”
Nate Lippens's My Dead Book was a finalist for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. His second novel, Ripcord, will be published in 2024 by Semiotext(e) (US) and Pilot Press (UK). His fiction has appeared in the anthologies Little Birds (2021), Responses to Derek Jarman's Blue (Pilot Press, 2022), and Pathetic Literature, edited by Eileen Myles (2022).
Eileen Myles, named by BUST magazine "the rock star of modern poetry," is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including Chelsea Girls, Cool for You, Sorry, Tree, and Not Me (Semiotext(e), 1991), and is the coeditor of The New Fuck You (Semiotext(e), 1995). Myles was head of the writing program at University of California, San Diego, from 2002 to 2007, and she has written extensively on art and writing and the cultural scene. Most recently, she received a fellowship from the Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Foundation.
A perfect book, from the first line to the last. My Dead Book is the most electrifying thing I've read in a long time, a poetic, compressed novella about queer loss and addiction that reminded me of Gary Indiana and William Burroughs.
What a blistering book—Nate Lippens has created something truly fucking great. It's as if the storied stars of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" overshot Manhattan and wound up in Wisconsin, broke and blue with cold and depressed beyond belief by the thought that this nowhere is now home. It's a bitter pill, but I love bitterness, and who doesn't love pills?
A satellite of weary, tender doom, in the Midwest amidst the specter of AIDS and the culture wars.
There's no doubt to this book. You'd think that was a flaw but it's been burned away. My Dead Book is not short though it is brief. It's loving, bittersweet, and actually courageous because it tells a story that is slightly unbearable because it's all secret, awful hard bad secrets and funny as hell. Nate's balancing act works because the heart of it (this novel) is true even though it's often heartless. It's simple. He knows what things are worth. When you need the sea or a bird they're there like they never were before.