THE GREAT AMERICAN SUCTION is a dark, surreal, deadpan-comic novel about a reformed glue huffer who copes with the emerging mysteries of his life—a backwoods conspiracy against him, a woman impersonating his ex-wife—by undertaking a project as epic as it is absurd: the creation of a thirty-foot monument, a secular shrine of sorts, made entirely of stacked trash. Authority Shaker has somehow, against all expectations, survived into his mid-thirties. He has set aside the early debauchery of his youth and now maintains a modest existence mowing lawns in rural Ohio. Shaker’s tranquility is soon punctured when he is persecuted by mysterious forces that seem to be acting in retribution for long-forgotten sins Shaker committed somewhere in his hazy, drug-clouded past. The provocations start small: Someone breaks into his house and rearranges his furniture. His dishes get washed, his apartment cleaned. As the passive-aggressive harassment escalates, Shaker stumbles onto a shadowy underground network of bumpkin criminality, on the cusp of which is his schizophrenic cousin, Darb, who is trying to manufacture a new street drug with a toxin extracted from puffer fish. Shaker is drawn into Darb’s troubled family life and when both of their houses are immolated under suspicious circumstances, the cousins attempt to cope with the disaster in a way that is both foolish and oddly enigmatic: by building competing garbage monuments from the refuse of other peoples’ lives. Their kinship turns to rivalry. Jealousy, paranoia, and sabotage ensue. Complicating matters further, Shaker takes up residence with a nameless woman who ekes out a living impersonating Shaker’s ex-wife (who went on to become an infamous musician/performance artist/national punch line after she fled Ohio). Shaker’s own home life becomes more than a little troubled. His monument begins to attract a cult of silent homeless men. He gains a doppelganger of his own when a mop-haired mute appears on the doorstep and ingratiates his way into the woman’s house. And then there is the matter of Shaker’s random blackouts and amnesias, which may be the root of the conspiracy against him and the very thing he is trying to buttress himself against with his dubious stack of trash. The novel is swift, off-kilter, gleefully overstuffed yet intricately connected. A big swirling churn of American Absurd.
"The Great American Suction is a glorious, glittering heap of astonishing prose and devastating human shenanigans. It’s also an example of truth in advertising because it’s great, it’s American, and it sucks the pettiness right out of you. What a beautiful and hilarious novel! Every sentence is a new adventure, and another chance at life." -- Sam Lipsyte
“Life has burned a hole in the pockets of Shaker, the aptly named up-and-at-'em down-and-outer wambling his way through the full spread of our present squalor in this ultravivid, live wire of a début novel. Page after page, David Nutt shocks the language into a killingly original blaze.” -Gary Lutz, author of I Looked Alive
“Elegant, manic, deeply attentive. The reader may be struck, at first, by a dark undertow (think Gary Lutz meets Grace Paley) but as the language teaches us how to read it, The Great American Suction reveals itself to be a celebratory comic romp from a big-hearted writer.” – George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December
In David Nutt’s luminous debut novel, the perennially put-upon protagonist’s existence consists of a daisy chain of half-baked calamities. A brain-damaged post-postmodern anti-hero, Shaker’s a not-so-innocent Josef K. for the culture that births precocious meth chefs and celebrity impersonator wannabes. Dystopian, and by that, I mean contemporary, this debut ratchets up the possibilities of prose with its stylistic virtuosity while laying bare the toxic underbelly of the garbage art crowd. If you’re a fan of David Ohle’s Motorman or Sam Lipsyte’s Venus Drive, The Great American Suction awaits you. -Christopher Kennedy
David Nutt's hilarious debut novel is written in energetic, witty, wonderfully inventive prose.
His perfectly timed riffs and set pieces skewer American conceits, but his characters are shot through with an eccentric kind of joy. Nutt's voice is truly new, a marvel of wry tenderness.
--Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others and Stone Arabia.