Author(s): Matthew Thomas
A stunning, heartbreaking debut - 'We Are Not Ourselves' is both the intimate story of a family and an epic of the American Century. The product of a stormy upbringing in an Irish Catholic enclave of New York City, Eileen craves stability. Coming of age in the early Sixties, she meets and marries a young scientist named Edmund Leary. But while Eileen wants more for her family, Ed won't give up teaching for a better-paid job. Inadvertently Eileen starts to climb her own career ladder in nursing. She pushes Ed into finding a new home, but it becomes clear that his resistance is part of a deeply troubling psychological shift. In this masterful debut, Matthew Thomas paints a sprawling, profoundly sympathetic portrait of a family coping with slow-burning tragedy. 'We Are Not Ourselves' is a grand testament to our deepest hopes and most human frailties.
'I was really captivated by the real time decline and endurance in the story. It's a rich and hauntingly scrupulous account of an Irish American family.' Hugo Hamilton '"We Are Not Ourselves" is a powerfully moving book, and the figure of Eileen Leary - mother, wife, daughter, lover, nurse, caretaker, whiskey drinker, upwardly mobile dreamer, retrenched protector of values - is a real addition to our literature.' Chad Harbach 'The mind is a mystery no less than the heart. In "We Are Not Ourselves", Matthew Thomas has written a masterwork on both, as well as an anatomy of the American middle class in the 20th Century. It's all here: how we live, how we love, how we die, how we carry on. And Thomas does it with the epic sweep and small pleasures of the very best fiction. It's humbling and heartening to read a book this good.' Joshua Ferris 'Okay, straight out, this novel is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. "We Are Not Ourselves" delivers the deepest, most involving and best pleasures of reading, the pleasures that have you lose your hours while curled up in a comfy couch, that have you sneaking looks and reading when you should be doing other things. A true epic in the best sense of the world, encompassing the big great gorgeous heartbreak that was our American Century. You doubt me. Please do not. Each page is suffused with a relentless and probing genius, as well as a generous and humane heart, and the result not only explodes across the darkening sky, but remains with you long after you've finished the last page and handed it to someone you love. So long as there are novels like "We Are Not Ourselves", so long as there are writers like Matthew Thomas, the form of the novel is more than alive, it is thriving, palpitant.' Charles Bock 'Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, "We Are Not Ourselves" heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.' Book Reporter
Matthew Thomas has a BA in English from the University of Chicago, an MA in Fiction from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied under Alice McDermott and Steve Dixon, and an MFA in Fiction from UC-Irvine, where he studied with Geoffrey Wolff and Jim Shephard. He has been working on 'We Are Not Ourselves' more or less exclusively for a decade. Briefly at the end of the last century, he was a reporter for the New York Observer.