Synopses & Reviews
A stunning debut novel of first love set against the art scene of late-90s Tulsa by a former New Yorker
The first days of summer: Jim Praley is home from college, ready to unlock Tulsa's secrets. He drives the highways. He forces himself to get out of his car and walk into a bar. He's invited to a party. And there he meets Adrienne Booker; Adrienne rules Tulsa, in her way. A high-school dropout with a penthouse apartment, she takes a curious interest in Jim. Through her eyes, he will rediscover his hometown: its wasted sprawl, the beauty of its late nights, and, at the city's center, the unsleeping light of its skyscrapers. In the tradition of Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Map of Tulsa is elegiac, graceful, and as much a story about young love as it is a love letter to a classic American city.
"Benjamin Lytal understands, and brilliantly captures, how the most aching significance can be wrought from a place, a time, a girl, solely because they were yours. One wouldn't imagine Saul Bellow and Jarvis Cocker as complementary influences, but that's the mad genius of A Map of Tulsa, an exhilarating debut unabashedly besotted by home and cheekily, preemptively nostalgic for a youth not yet lost."
Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City is the Place to Be and Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!
"Benjamin Lytal illumines a city and the lovers who rev through it in A Map of Tulsa, a wise, moving, beautifully made novel about artistic ambitions in youth. The descriptive prose is a marvel and the characters complex — touching and troublesome and unforgettable."
Christine Schutt, author of Prosperous Friends
"A hypnotic, near-mythic evocation of a summer in a city and its devastating aftermath. Sentence by sentence, one of the best first novels I've read." Karan Mahajan, author of Family Planning
"Each sentence a virtuoso sleight of language, Benjamin Lytal's A Map of Tulsa hands us nothing less than an unexpected new blueprint of the American soul. Allowing for chambers previously near unexplored in contemporary fiction, it traces the curious corridors of desire between the heartland and the coast, loving and climbing, homesickness and ambition, artists and intellectuals, the loyal and the free. This is fiction of the greatest power and most enduring interest." Ida Hattemer-Higgins, author of The History of History
"The plot involves a penthouse in a skyscraper, an oil fortune, a motorcycle accident, dancing in bars, taking pills, and having sex outside. But mostly it's about walking around the city — your hometown, reconquered — and wondering what your destiny will be."
Christian Lorentzen, The Millions
About the Author
Benjamin Lytal has written for the Wall Street Journal, the London Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, the Believer, McSweeneys, Fence, the Daily Beast, and the Nation. For four years he wrote the New York Sun's "Recent Fiction" column. Originally from Tulsa, Lytal currently lives in Chicago.