The four-month odyssey of a literary lowlife.
Set in middle America during the economic hard times of the Nixon era, this tragicomic, epistolary masterpiece chronicles everything Andrew Whittaker—literary journal editor, negligent landlord, and aspiring novelist—commits to paper over the course of four critical months.
From his letters, diary entries, and fragments of fiction, to grocery lists and posted signs, we find our hero hounded by tenants and creditors, harassed by a loathsome local arts group, tormented by his ex-wife, and living on a diet of fried Spam, cupcakes, and Southern Comfort. Determined to redeem his failures and eviscerate his enemies, Whittaker hatches a grand plan. But as winter nears, his difficulties accumulate, and the disorder of his life threatens to overwhelm him.
A send-up of the literary life and the loneliness and madness that accompanies it, Sam Savage proves that all the evidence is in the writing, that all the world is, indeed, a stage, and that escape from the mind’s prison requires a command performance.
A 1999 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
“Savage’s sense of humor is true to his name, but The Cry of the Sloth reminds us of the great Russian satirist Ivan Goncharov, who also saw the tragedy in pretending to be productive.” —Time Out Chicago
“Wickedly comic . . . Andrew Whittaker may just be the most lovably unlovable character in recent letters. . . . That it has been pulled off as a marvelously slapstick tragedy says volumes about Sam Savage’s talent: Turns out this late bloomer is also a repeat bloomer.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Delightful . . . Imagine a comic version of the great Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of the Disquiet in epistolary form, with extra laceration. —Guardian
“The Cry of the Sloth is the funniest anatomy of literary mediocrity since Max Beerbohm’s Enoch Soames.” —Times of London
“A novel like this should come swaddled in party balloons. . . . [The Cry of the Sloth] deserves a toast.” —American Book Review
“Focused and multifaceted . . . A lot of humor shines through.” —Orlando Sentinel
“Sam Savage’s second novel more than lives up to expectations. Once again, the amusing Mr. Savage engages us with his sharp wit in a plot about a literary enterprise seeing its final days. . . . A delightfully entertaining story that showcases a shrewd and spirited personality.” —Kassie Rose, WOSU Public Media, NPR Member Station
“[A] terrific little novel.” —Nancy Pearl
“The Cry of the Sloth hits like a punch in the solar plexus, and never, ever lets up. Savage is a brilliant humorist who’s created one of the most original antiheroes . . . [Sam Savage has] become one of America’s funniest, cleverest, and most vital writers of fiction.” —Michael Schaub, Bookslut
“Scathingly funny.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Savage is just hitting his stride. His new work is every bit as engaging and original as his debut, Firmin.” — Library Journal (starred review)
“Andy [Whittaker] is a triumphant achievement, squirm-inducingly credible and the palpitating heart of this very funny, very dark novel.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“[The Cry of the Sloth] has ‘cult book’ written all over it. . . . unique and hilarious.” —Booklist
“Laugh out loud funny . . . Sam Savage is one of the greats.” —Bookmunch