The Brand New Catastrophe, Mike Scalise
The Brand New Catastrophe, Mike Scalise
Available for preorder only.
Publication date January 31, 2017.
After a ruptured pituitary tumor leaves Mike Scalise with the hormone disorder acromegaly at age 24, he must navigate a new, alien world of illness maintenance. His mother, who has a chronic heart condition and a flair for drama, serves as a complicated model. A moving, funny exploration of how we define ourselves by the stories we choose to tell.
Mike Scalise’s work has appeared in Agni, Indiewire, Ninth Letter, The Paris Review, Wall Street Journal, and other places. He’s an 826DC advisory board member, has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and the Ucross Foundation, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University. His memoir, The Brand New Catastrophe, was the recipient of The Center for Fiction's 2014 Christopher Doheny Award.
Praise for The Brand New Catastrophe:
PW Top Ten Book for Fall 2016 in Memoir & Biography
“An offbeat, witty memoir. . . . Scalise is unsparing in recounting his reaction to his diagnosis while keeping the reader engaged in a story about catastrophe…. Sensitive and well-written.”
“The effects of illness on self-image and its gravitational pull on family, friends, and spouse are touchingly detailed in this upbeat health memoir.”
“[Scalise’s] tone is honest, serious when it should be, and funny when it doesn’t have to be. . . Scalise’s memoir, in particular the contrast between his own medical adventures and his mother’s experiences with chronic congestive heart failure, is a critical analysis of how patients should approach the “sick role.” . . . Reading memoirs like Scalise’s – and other patient narratives, like Sarah Manguso’s The Two Kinds of Decay and Belle Boggs’s The Art of Waiting and Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face – helps doctors see lives beyond diagnoses.”
—Dr. Andrew Bomback, Ohio Edit
“A very funny book about the frailties of the flesh, the absurdities of modern medicine, and how to stay sane amid it all. Scalise’s voice is fantastically entertaining, unfailingly honest.”
—Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s founder and author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
“This remarkable, riveting memoir is often extremely funny—not something I expected to say about a book that chronicles the life-altering effects of the disease behind gigantism. Scalise himself, meanwhile, is an ideal narrator: self-lacerating and observant, without a petty or small-minded bone in his (thankfully, not yet gigantic) body. I loved this book.”
—Tom Bissell, author of Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve
“Like the dynamo spawn of Louis CK and Oliver Sacks, Mike Scalise’s startling and slyly hilarious memoir is a heartfelt reminder of how astonishing, how terrifying, how absurd it is to be a body. An essential book for those who’ve lived through catastrophe, or only imagined it.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“The coming-of-age during an illness memoir is a genre we rarely see, and Scalise writes with maturity and hard-won wit about the ways in which a chronic illness can test the bonds of family. But even more surprisingly, he explores how life within an unruly body can be weirdly freeing, making The Brand New Catastrophe a hugely entertaining read.”
—Courtney Maum, author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You
“The Brand New Catastrophe strips away piety, jargon, and false feeling to show us what people, real people, really do and say when disaster hits. With the acuity of Ivan Ilyich and the giddily defiant humor of Lorrie Moore, Scalise swings back at the absurdities and indignities of illness and knocks them flat.”
—Will Boast, author of Epilogue
“In this stunning memoir, Mike Scalise takes readers on a hilarious and heartfelt journey through the mental and cultural landscape of physical illness. Written with humor, spirit, and artistry, The Brand New Catastrophe will endear you to the confusion at the heart of every personal catastrophe. You’ll have no choice but to fall in love with this debut talent.”
—Jen Percy, author of Demon Camp
“Mike Scalise’s memoir of his diagnosis and coping with acromegaly is smart and compelling, particularly because it acknowledges the tropes and clichés of ‘catastrophe narratives.’ He crafts his disaster story to give himself an illusion of control over his pituitary abnormality, and his strong, energetic voice subverts expectations about what it means to be ill. This astute memoir is moving without being sentimental.”
—Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them
“Mike Scalise’s memoir The Brand New Catastrophe depicts a world where one’s body is attacking them from the inside. Scalise suffers from acromegaly, a condition he shares with Andre the Giant. Like Andre’s, his story is funny, honest, devastating, and human.”
—Box Brown, author of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
“Mike Scalise suffered what he likes to call ‘a catastrophe.’ Scalise’s tale is interesting in amazing ways, the least of which is his easy-going approach to what many would consider the end of ordinary life. Scalise is a glorious writer whose wit takes him to every corner of his peculiar circumstance, and is willing to joyfully take readers through the museum of his peculiar physiology. Mary Roach talking about herself. Oliver Sacks in Fantastic Voyage. Such a joy.”
—Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights