An ambitious new novel set in the literary world of 1970s New York, following a washed-up writer in an errant quest to pick up the pieces of his life.
One of Esquire's Best books of 2017 (So Far), The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2017, and BuzzFeed’s Exciting New Books You Need To Read This Summer.
The year is 1973, and Alan Eastman, a public intellectual, accidental cultural critic, washed-up war journalist, husband, and philanderer; finds himself alone on the floor of his study in an existential crisis. His wife has taken their kids and left him to live with her mother in New Jersey, and his best work feels as though it is years behind him. In the depths of despair, he receives an unexpected and unwelcome phone call from his old rival dating back to his days on the Harvard literary journal, offering him the chance to go to Vietnam to write the definitive account of the end of America's longest war. Seeing his opportunity to regain his wife’s love and admiration while reclaiming his former literary glory, he sets out for Vietnam. But instead of the return to form as a pioneering war correspondent that he had hoped for, he finds himself in Saigon, grappling with the same problems he thought he'd left back in New York.
Following his widely acclaimed debut, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, Alex Gilvarry employs the same thoughtful, yet dark sense of humor in Eastman Was Here to capture one irredeemable man's search for meaning in the face of advancing age, fading love, and a rapidly-changing world.
“Absorbing . . . Eastman is a riveting . . . presence who demands to be loved and remembered”
The Boston Globe
“With his second book, Gilvarry establishes himself as a writer who defies expectation, convention and categorization. Eastman Was Here is a dark, riotously funny and audacious exploration of the sacred and the profane—and pretty much everything in between”
Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife
“Alex Gilvarry has not so much reimagined Norman Mailer as he has channeled him. Eastman Was Here is a wildly entertaining book, intoxicatingly written and deceptively profound in its insights into the nature of celebrity, country, marriage, war and the pitfalls of being a writer. If Mailer had lived to read this novel, he’d have been jealous”
Said Sayrafiezadeh, author of When Skateboards Will Be Free
“What if a down-but-not-dead literary lion went to war? Eastman Was Here seeks out that question and so much more. Part tribute and part throwback, it howls with dark comic energy and brings real vibrancy to two staples of the American imagination, 1970s New York and the Vietnam War. In Alex Gilvarry's masterful hands, the character of Eastman will both delight and horrify readers, something his real-life inspirations would no doubt appreciate. This is a wild joyride of a book and one of 2017's best novels”
Matt Gallagher, author of Youngblood
“Eastman Was Here is a wry throwback of a novel that, though it's set in the past, feels relevant and new. In the tradition of satirists like John Kennedy O'Toole and Kurt Vonnegut, Alex Gilvarry sends up the "bad old days" of '70s-era hypermasculinity and misogyny, paints a vivid picture of Saigon during the War, and introduces us to an unforgettable anti-hero: the enraging, absurd, hilarious Eastman. Despite its satirical tone, there is real heart in this book, and I found myself incredibly moved by its final act”
Liz Moore, author of Heft and The Unseen World
“I can't imagine anything smarter or more exuberant than this novel. You want to smack Eastman on the head every couple of pages, but you never want to part with him!”
Lara Vapnyar, author of Still Here and There are Jews in My House
“The deepest intelligence is poetic, incisive, and inordinately funny. Heads up, folks. Alex Gilvarry just walked through the door”
“It's rare for a novel to tread so fearlessly into the political and yet to emerge so deeply funny and humane”
“Lively . . . hilarious . . . Gilvarry's whirligig of a book . . . draws some striking parallels between the way we mythologize stars and the way we look at terrorists”
John Freeman, The Boston Globe
“Delicious . . . A left-handed love letter to America”
Daniel Asa Rose, The New York Times Book Review