Upcoming Event

Joseph Earl Thomas at Harvard Book Store

presenting

God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer: A Novel

Date

Jun
27
Thursday
June 27, 2024
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes JOSEPH EARL THOMAS—doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Sink: A Memoir—for a discussion of his debut novel God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer

About God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer

After a deployment in the Iraq War dually defined by threat and interminable mundanity, Joseph Thomas is fighting to find his footing. Now a doctoral student at The University, and an EMS worker at the hospital in North Philly, he encounters round the clock friends and family from his past life and would-be future at his job, including contemporaries of his estranged father, a man he knows little about, serving time at Holmesburg prison for the statutory rape of his then-teenage mother. Meanwhile, he and his best friend Ray, a fellow vet, are alternatingly bonding over and struggling with their shared experience and return to civilian life, locked in their own rhythms of lust, heartbreak, and responsibility.

Balancing the joys and frustrations of single fatherhood, his studies, and ceaseless shifts at the hospital as he becomes closer than he ever imagined to his father, Joseph tries to articulate vernacular understandings of the sociopolitical struggles he recounts as participant-observer at home, against the assumptions of his friends and colleagues. God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer is a powerful examination of every day black life—of health and sex, race and punishment, and the gaps between our desires and our politics.

Praise for God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer

"Ribald, seething, lyrical, generous, heartbroken, and brilliant—God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer is a staggering literary achievement, one of those rare books that breaks and remakes the very idea of the novel. With unflinching courage, luminous spirit, and a virtuosic flow, Joseph Earl Thomas has written a Joycean Ulysses inside a Philly E.R., bodying forth the voice of a true American original." —Roy Scranton, author of War Porn and Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

"God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer is Joseph Earl Thomas' formidable, groundbreaking debut. There's so much magic in the rare combination of tenderness, humor, and heartbreak contained in this story. Our narrator, Joseph, is unlike any character I've read, just as Thomas' debut has no equal." —Cleyvis Natera, author of Neruda on the Park

“Joseph Earl Thomas’s God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer is a brilliant novel of hunger and work and care and grief that deftly captures the maddening mess of everything that makes life worth living. Thomas is a skilled, surgical prose stylist; his sentences are magnificent scalpels. There isn’t a single dull line in the book. God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer is unpredictable, unsentimental, and impressively tender.” —Isle McElroy, author of People Collide

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Joseph Earl Thomas
Joseph Earl Thomas

Joseph Earl Thomas

Joseph Earl Thomas is a writer from Frankford whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in VQR, N+1, Gulf Coast, The Offing, and The Kenyon Review. He has an MFA in prose from The University of Notre Dame and is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. An excerpt of his memoir, Sink, won the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize and he has received fellowships from Fulbright, VONA, Tin House, and Bread Loaf. He’s writing the novel God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer, and a collection of stories: Leviathan Beach, among other oddities.

Photo Credit: Drake Masters

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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FAQ:

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