cover image The Sarah Book

The Sarah Book

Scott McClanahan. Tyrant, $16.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-0-9885183-9-1

The latest novel from McClanahan (Hill William) is a funny and heartbreaking look at the demise of the marriage between Scott and Sarah. They meet when he’s 19 and she’s 24. The first thing she says to him is about how drinking Mountain Dew will shrink his penis, and when Scott replies that he’s drinking Mountain Dew intentionally “to take a few inches off,” Sarah “laughed like this: Say O my god. O my god. Then say it for a million times.” Over the ensuing years, Sarah and Scott have two children, but Scott’s reckless and destructive behavior—he destroys a computer with a sledgehammer and drives while drunk, unaware his kids are in the back seat—ends in a divorce. Scott further self-destructs: he lives in a Walmart parking lot for a bit while Sarah remains in their house with the kids, and at one point he tries to commit suicide with Tylenol. When he desperately wants to get a beer at Applebee’s, but won’t get served because he lost his driver’s license, he says, “She told me that I looked so young and I told her it was the devil’s confusion. He let me look good as long as I felt bad.” But the novel also jumps around in time throughout, flashing back to the happier moments in their relationship—the funny and moving stories Sarah tells Scott about her job as a nurse, their adoption of a very old pug named Mr. King, whom they care for together. This is a wrenching and sometimes profound document of loss. As Scott says, “And so I laughed because this was life, and a part of mine was over now and nothing exploded and no light was revealed.” [em](July) [/em]