Thirty-Seven by Peter Stenson
Thirty-Seven by Peter Stenson
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Paperback: 288 pages
One of Booklist's Best Ten Horror Books of 2018
The Survivors, their members known only by the order in which they joined, live alone in a rural Colorado mansion. They believe that sickness bears honesty. And that honesty bears change. Fueled by the ritualized Cytoxan treatments that leave them on the verge of death, they instigate the Day of Gifts, a day that spells shocking violence and the group’s demise.
Enter Mason Hues, formerly known as Thirty-Seven, the group’s final member and the only one both alive and free. Eighteen years old and living in a spartan apartment after his release from a year of intensive mental health counseling, he takes a job at a thrift shop and expects to while away his days as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.
But when his enigmatic boss Talley learns his secret, she comes to believe that there is still hope in the Survivor philosophy. She pushes Mason to start the group over again—this time with himself as One.
Part Fight Club, part The Girls, and entirely unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, Peter Stenson’s Thirty-Seven is an audacious and austere novel that explores our need to belong. Our need to be loved. Our need to believe in something greater than ourselves, and our ultimate capacity for self-delusion.
PRAISE FOR THIRTY-SEVEN
“With his second novel, Stenson proves to be a more articulate, more empathic, and more intelligent version of Chuck Palahniuk. Stenson's sentences devastate, and his characters are nuanced and warm ... A book that manages to break your heart, make you dizzy, and punch you in the gut all at once. You will be hard-pressed to find a novel as dark or intense in any bookstore."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Unnerving but spellbinding...Stenson's brilliantly vivid prose and striking characters deserve the widest possible audience."
“An eerie, complex, and unsettling portrayal of a traumatized teen caught between the brainwashing tenets of a self-destructive cult and the more common indoctrination into mainstream society’s expectations...This novel is a provocative, thoroughly gripping ride."
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“An intense, exceptionally well-made, unforgettable book. ... Meticulously constructed, Hitchcockian in its layering of tension, Faulknerian in its network of ideas, wise and strange as an angel, black as a night in a dungeon. Certainly one of the best books I read in 2018. ... Stenson has written a small, dark miracle of a book. ... Incisive, absorbing, persuasive, and impossible to forget.”
“Mason is a great guide into the deep, disturbing dark, and things do get very, very dark. Be careful. Once you pick this one up, you’ll loathe to put it down, so set some time aside. Stenson is a great talent, and one of the best-kept secrets in transgressive fiction, and fiction in general. Hopefully that won’t be the case for very long.”
“Engrossing and brutal...For fans of the more anarchistic works of Chuck Palahniuk, as well as those who value the brutal honesty and grittiness of Hubert Selby Jr., there is no greater talent than Stenson. As a writer, his maturity and intellect dwarf Palahniuk and his lyrical beauty in the face of unspeakable violence and emotional torment hearken back to the most impressive novels of Selby, including Last Exit to Brooklyn and The Room...a novel of immense psychological scope that showcases the talents of a fearless writer.”
—Michigan Quarterly Review
“An intense, exceptionally well-made, unforgettable book. ... Meticulously constructed, Hitchcockian in its layering of tension, Faulknerian in its network of ideas, wise and strange as an angel, black as a night in a dungeon. Certainly one of the best books I read in 2018. ... Stenson has written a small, dark miracle of a book. ... Incisive, absorbing, persuasive, and impossible to forget."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Stenson received his MFA from Colorado State University in 2012. His first novel, Fiend, was an Amazon Best Book of the Month for July 2013. His stories and essays have been published in The Bellevue Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, Confrontation, Blue Mesa Review, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and family in Denver, Colorado.