Not one, but two mouths opening in perfect synchronicity


In WHAT BECOMES US, the new novel by Micah Perks, twin fetuses tell the story of their mild-mannered mother who abandons her controlling husband to start fresh in a small town in upstate New York. But her seemingly ideal neighbors are violently divided by the history Evie is teaching at the high school—the captivity and restoration of colonist Mary Rowlandson, a watershed conflict that leads our little narrators to ask big questions about love, survival, coveting the man next door and what exactly is a healthy appetite.


Advance praise for What Becomes Us


"Micah Perks' book has everything a reader could hope for -- her language is lively, her characters appealing. Set in a storied landscape, with themes of independence and community. Romance! History! Food! Plus a tale to tell and some surprising people to tell it. There is real magic here. Micah magic! Completely original, completely delightful."
- Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


"I've been obsessed with Mary Rowlandson for 20 years, and was delighted to find that Micah Perks writes about her with fireworks. This is a warm, wild, hilarious, eccentric and moving book."
- Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies and Arcadia


“Micah Perks is one of the most radiantly original writers around. What Becomes Us, exhilarating and terrifying, is a novel I love for its wild beauty, its offbeat inventiveness, its effervescent language, and the artfulness with which it has been shaped. This is a brilliant novel.”
- Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen


"No matter where we come from, we all get born again American. Micah Perks is our literary doula working beside the midwives who haunt our American beginnings: Mary Rowlandson, Queen Weetamoo, and civil disobedient missionary Ma -- rebirthing us even as we are fetal captives in generational cycles of puritanical pioneering and savagery. We emerge with insatiable hunger, innocent and corruptible, and Micah Perks, with gentle wit and deft storytelling, coaxes us to love and song."
- Karen Tei Yamashita, author of I Hotel


“Micah Perks’ wonderful and surprising new novel proves that the life of a small-town schoolteacher can be by turns comic, dramatic, joyful, and violent."
- Alison Lurie, author of Foreign Affairs and The Language of Houses


“Every once in a while a book not only takes us on a journey, it transports us. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had fully entered this world. The characters are so finely drawn, the story so well told—I felt as if I was carrying a candle through a landscape haunted by Shirley Jackson. A little bit gothic, wonderfully strange, delightfully spooky. A unique love story nested in a Pandora’s box of wonder. WHAT BECOMES US is bedazzling.”
— Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red





Top 10 Books About The Apocalypse: "The apocalypses of the past haunt the present in this magical novel narrated by twin foetuses. The ghost of Mary Rowlandson, a white colonist captured by Native Americans during King Philip’s war, has seemingly possessed Evie, a pregnant schoolteacher on the run from an abusive husband. But it’s not only Evie being ghosted – her entire community is bound up in this moment of violent history. “The hem of the world has ripped open,” Rowlandson thinks. “The seam has broken and things I cannot fathom have fallen through.” I can think of no better way to explain an apocalypse." - Michelle Tea at The Guardian



". . .I thought it would be exciting to have the narration coming from inside the main character, but also with a little distance from the character—kind of her, but not her. I started with a single fetal narrator, but then after several years and several revisions, including one disastrous rewrite where I changed the whole thing to third person, I realized that a we/twinned voice would work for the book because I liked the idea of two people stuffed inside one womb together, the claustrophobia and utopia of that situation, the Whitmanesque, I-contain-multitudes, we-the-people, kind of voice, which really fits with the book as a whole. I liked pushing this ecstatic, lyrical narration up against the very down-to-earth voices of the characters. . ." - Micah Perks in an interview with Molly Antopol at The Rumpus




"When it comes to expressing anything other than absolute adoration for one’s children – including the process of creating them – women, all too often, are shushed. Therefore, Micah Perks is navigating a dangerous territory in What Becomes Us, when she likens pregnancy to captivity, one that, moreover, frees the protagonist from the colonial life in which she’s been trapped. Spoiler Alert: Evie Rosen, the protagonist of What Becomes Us, is not opposed to motherhood. Rather, as an introvert, made insecure by an overcertain husband, she is hesitant about closeness: after carrying twins inside of her, she will never be able to express herself as anything other than a ‘we.’ Hesitancy about closeness too is taboo this is what makes Perks’ novel so interesting. Like its protagonist What Becomes Us is a shy book, questioning established taboos through a series of formal elements, rather than defiant monologues. . . " - Eireen Nealand at Catamaran



"Our parents had failed five months in a row to make a baby, and Father was growing frustrated. He couldn’t figure out what our mother was doing wrong. " - Read the first chapter of What Becomes Us at Tin House



"Nice girls are not supposed to be hungry. They are not supposed to feed themselves or care about their own food. They’re definitely not supposed to take food out of a child’s mouth. Evie eats more and more and gets bigger and bigger. Her desire is growing and growing..." - Micah Perks in an interview with Zoe Ruiz at The Believer


"'I liked the idea of a voice inside the character who is not the character. . . They're twins because I was also really interested in this idea of a kind of tiny little utopian community inside of her.'" - Micah Perks in an interview with Wallace Baine at Santa Cruz Sentinel


"About ten years ago, I was writing in a white heat. You know those rare moments where it’s just working, there’s more pressure to continue than to start, it seems easy? I always feel a little caffeinated, whether I’ve been drinking tea or not, and I begin to sweat. I know, glamorous. " - Micah Perks at 1st Books



"Nine weeks pregnant, end of February, our mother waits on the sidewalk in the gloaming, all her worldly belongings in the two new suitcases beside her. Above her, the high Santa Cruz sky is morning glory blue streaked with pink. She smells the eucalyptus trees and the brine of the ocean six blocks away. Pregnancy has intensified her sense of smell, so that its as if she’s coated in tiger balm and wearing a necklace of seaweed. . ." - exclusive excerpt at Hip Mama magazine


"Okay, I know you’ve been really nervous about this self-interview, but why don’t you just drink a cocktail, grow a pair, and I’ll ask you some questions. (The author makes a vodka gimlet.). . ." - Micah Perks self-interviews at The Nervous Breakdown. Also, at TNB: an exclusive excerpt.


"We’ve encountered unusual narrative perspectives before. Psychopaths, death, the colour red – they’ve all been attempted. But foetuses feel new. Or felt new, momentarily: in the space of a year, three foetus-narrated novels have arrived at once. . ." - Xenobe Purvis reviews What Becomes Us along with Nutshell by Ian McEwan and Womb by Eric Goldman at Litro Magazine


About Micah Perks


Micah Perks grew up in a log cabin on a commune in the Adirondack wilderness. She is the author of a novel, We Are Gathered Here, a memoir, Pagan Time, and a long personal essay, Alone In The Woods: Cheryl Strayed, My Daughter and Me. Her short stories and essays have won five Pushcart Prize nominations and appeared in Epoch, Zyzzyva, Tin House, The Toast, OZY and The Rumpus, amongst many journals and anthologies. Excerpts of What Becomes Us won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and The New Guard Machigonne 2014 Fiction Prize. She received her BA and MFA from Cornell University and now lives with her family in Santa Cruz where she co-directs the creative writing program at UCSC. More info and work at micahperks.com.

Events

October 4, 2016 - Santa Cruz Bookshop
October 5, 2016 - Skylight Books, Los Angeles
October 8, 2016 - Bill Newman show, WHMP
November 3, 2016 - Monterery Peninsula College
November 3, 2016 - San Francisco State
November 4, 2016 - Catamaran Literary Reader book chat, First Friday Santa Cruz
November 5, 2016 - California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco
November 10, 2016 - Why There Are Words, Sausalito



Micah Perks
What Becomes Us
229 pages
$16.00 paperback ISBN 9781937402983
$9.99 ebook ISBN 9781944853211

October 2016

She’s in a smoky log cabin trying to breathe. Smoke stings her eyes into slits and pinches her throat closed. She is pressed everywhere by people and dogs and smoke and the smell of urine and sweat. . .


"Sometimes I think of us as one large, very diverse family, or maybe a mini-commune, or sometimes a dead end road, depending on the day."


"Why do you think there is so much attention paid to food and hunger in the novel...?"















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