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The Shame (Paperback)

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The Shame By Makenna Goodman Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Another one of those books that I still think about, months later.  This is a wild, WILD ride.  "recursive loops through the mind of a woman who is breaking down from not making the art she absolutely must make” is how Alexander Chee describes this novel.  The opening of this book is what drew me in.  Alma and her family live in Vermont, and raise sheep and chickens.  She stays home with her children while her husband works at a nearby college.  She's bored of this life and regretful; along with a plethora of other complicated feelings, and one night, she decides to get in her car and leave it all behind; bound for New York after a growing fascination of someone she began to follow on Instagram, a ceramist named Celeste, becomes an obsession.  She wants the life that Celeste has, but is it really greener on the other side?  -Ashley

— From Ashley's Picks


A "startlingly original" novel of "recursive loops through the mind of a woman who is breaking down from not making the art she absolutely must make" (Alexander Chee, Paris Review).

Alma and her family live close to the land, raising chickens and sheep. While her husband works at a nearby college, she stays home with their young children, cleans, searches for secondhand goods online, and reads books by the women writers she adores. Then, one night, she abruptly leaves it all behind--speeding through the darkness, away from their Vermont homestead, bound for New York.

In a series of flashbacks, Alma reveals the circumstances and choices that led to this moment: the joys and claustrophobia of their remote life; her fears and uncertainties about motherhood; the painfully awkward faculty dinners; her feelings of loneliness and failure; and her growing fascination with Celeste, a mysterious ceramicist and self-loving doppelg nger who becomes an obsession for Alma.

A fable both blistering and surreal, The Shame is a propulsive, funny, and thought-provoking debut about a woman in isolation, whose mind--fueled by capitalism, motherhood, and the search for meaningful art--attempts to betray her.

Honors for The Shame:

  • A Refinery29 Best New Book of Fall 2020
  • A Literary Hub Recommended Read for August 2020
  • A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of August 2020
  • A Harvard Review Favorite Book of 2020, Selected by Miciah Bay Gault
  • A White Review Recommended Read of 2020
  • A Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Reading Recommendation for Fall 2020

About the Author

Makenna Goodman is the author of The Shame, which was named a Harvard Review Favorite Book of 2020, a White Review Recommended Read, a Refinery29 Best New Book, a Literary Hub Recommended Read, a Bustle Most Anticipated Book, a Book Club Pick, and more. Interviews, words, and work have been featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Paris Review, Electric Literature, Guernica, Literary Hub, Catapult, The Rumpus, the Adroit Journal, and Commonplace Podcast, and are forthcoming in the Harvard Review, BOMB, the White Review, and the New York Review of Books. Based in Vermont, Goodman is a former editor of books on agriculture and food who writes about, among other things, the intersection of land stewardship and capitalism.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781571311368
ISBN-10: 157131136X
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: August 11th, 2020
Pages: 160
Language: English

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