In this darkly funny novella, two aging men arrive at their old factory to wait for their jobs to come back, believing the promises of Donald Trump’s campaign. In a pair of lawn chairs, they keep watch over the abandoned site, echoing the president’s words and weathering the disorientation that follows, from visions of a dinosaur and a hovering UFO to the opportunistic violence of a white nationalist influencer. A swift meditation on the brute force of words, with all the comedy and urgency of Dave Housley’s expert wit.
“Housley’s a madman and his book Howard and Charles at the Factory is a pitch perfect funhouse mirror view of our ridiculous times. We’re all Howard and Charles standing in front of a closed factory waiting for the world we knew to make sense. Read this in front of a shuttered factory, while looking for dinosaurs and UFOs, or just any moment you want to feel pleasure in a mad, mad world.”
— Rion Amilcar Scott, author of The World Doesn’t Require You
“Maybe the antidote to absurd times is absurdity. Maybe the way we make sense of the nonsensical is to lean into the nonsense and find some reason hidden from plain sight. Howard and Charles at the Factory is a medicine, a means of sifting through all the lies and delusions and finding that maybe, at long last, there’s a heart still beating under all the rubble.”
— Jared Yates Sexton, author of The Man They Wanted Me To Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making and The People Are Going To Rise Like The Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage
“Beckett meets Bunker in this hallucinatory riff on toxic masculinity, capitalism, fake news, and twenty-first century angst. Like a Pittsburgh Pirandello, Dave Housley gives us characters helpless in the face of the invisible forces that shape their lives. A furious, darkly comic fable for this precise American moment.”
— J. Robert Lennon, author of Broken River, See You in Paradise and Pieces for the Left Hand
“With his characteristic wit and sensitivity, Dave Housley dares to enter the MAGA mindset—and wins. Howard and Charles at the Factory is the story of two aging men who are out of jobs and out of options: perfect prey for scapegoat politics. As they camp outside their shuttered workplace, hoping for a presidential miracle, everything collapses—bodies, language, meaning, connection. A brisk, bleak little bender that could’ve easily been called Waiting for Trump.”
— Katherine Hill, author of The Violet Hour
“In this part-allegory, part-elegy, Dave Housley’s political insight, cleverness, and incredible empathy are on full display.”
— Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land: Stories from Home, Grace Paley Award and American Book Award winner
“Waiting for Godot for Trump voters — or rather, for the people trying and failing to understand them. Like so much of Housley’s best work, absurdity simmers and spills over in this story, funny and unexpectedly sad in the best, scathing-est way.”
— Amber Sparks, author of And I Do Not Forgive You and The Unfinished World
“Some of the best fiction — or writing in general — I’ve read in response to the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath…”
— Steve Himmer, Goodreads ✭✭✭✭✭
“…But there must be rules. Without rules there would be chaos and he knows this, knows it all the more now, after that man and his eight years of giveaways and open borders and poor children being molested in pizza ping pong parlors…” What to Read When You’re Waiting for the World to Feel Normal Again
Also at The Rumpus, Dave offers a list to help us cope with current times.
“Imagine if most anticipated books lists didn’t grossly resemble each other. Imagine if they didn’t simply privilege books from the so-called Big Five…” – John Madera, Big Other
Dave Housley is the author of the novel This Darkness Got to Give, and four story collections, most recently Massive Cleansing Fire. His work has appeared in Booth, Hobart, Quarterly West, Ridivider, and some other places. He’s one of the Founding Editors and all around do-stuff people at Barrelhouse. He is the Director of Web Strategy at Penn State Outreach and Online Education. He tweets at @housleydave.