The debut novel from “wholly original” (Vogue) memoirist Amy Fusselman, a tragicomic family saga that skewers contemporary issues of money, motherhood, and class through a well-to-do woman’s quest to buy a Hamptons beach house.
Shelly Means, a wealthy stay-at-home mom and disgraced former PTA president, is poised to get the one thing in life she really wants: a beach house in the Hamptons. Who would have guessed that Shelly, the product of frugal Midwesterners, or her husband George, an unrepentant thrift shopper, would ever be living among such swells? But Shelly believes it’s possible. It might be a very small house, and it might be in the least-fancy part of the Hamptons. But Shelly has a vision board, an architect, and a plan.
But what should be a simple real estate transaction quickly goes awry as Shelly’s new neighbors disapprove of her proposed shipping container house at the same time that George’s lucrative work as a VoiceOver artist dries up. But Shelly is dogged. She knows how to go into beast mode. But will it ever be enough to realize her beach house dreams?
A novel of real estate, ambition, family, and money from “one of our best interrogators of how we live now, and how we should live” (Dave Eggers), The Means is also a fantastical, fast-moving and very funny exploration of class, wealth, and the value of work.
Amy Fusselman is the author of four nonfiction books: Idiophone; Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die; 8; and The Pharmacist’s Mate. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlantic, McSweeney’s, and many other outlets. She lives with her family in New York City where she teaches creative writing at New York University.
“A fast-paced and funny send up.” — People
"Delicious." — Zibby Owens, gma.com
"With its deadpan absurdity, pithy prose and moral je ne sais quoi, Fusselman's latest will appeal to fans of Marcy Dermansky....With its satire of the particular hypocrisy of the Hamptons, including homeowners associations, graft, and garbage and recycling practices, Maria Semple....We may be entering a golden age of the comic novel, surely one of the best possible outcomes of this desperate moment in history." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Just like its title, Amy Fusselman’s new novel is breezy-sharp, super-funny, and full of second meanings and surprising insights into The Means, and what it means to have and lack them. You don’t have to want to live in a shipping container in the Hamptons to understand Shelly Means and the yearnings that drive her hilarious desperate measures. But if you need a hint, Twix the socialist dog will yell it at you. (SPOILER, but look: Maria Semple and David Sedaris are brilliant, but have they written a talking dog as funny as Twix? The answer, my friends, is no. You can only find this, and so much else, in The Means)." — John Hodgman, author of Vacationland and Medallion Status
"This charming novel bears the Fusselman touch that makes all of her books so brilliant: touching, uncanny, and deceptively simple observations that dismantle complex assumptions about the world." — Sarah Manguso, author of Very Cold People
“Amy Fusselman’s The Means is an absolute delight! Anyone who’s ever wanted more than they had—so, all of us—will be unable to turn away from this wise, funny, page-turning story of relationships, motherhood, and real estate ambitions.” — Jessica Anya Blau, author of Mary Jane
"Location, location, location: that is the real estate chant. In Amy Fusselman’s The Means those words are intermingled with laugh, laugh, laugh. Fusselman is a prescient observer chronicling one couple’s desire to live near where the other half live. She deftly captures the absurdity of the everyday and the American quest for more. The Means is funny, playful and at times painfully accurate." — A.M. Homes, author of The Unfolding and May We Be Forgiven
"The Means is such a fast-paced, breezy comedic novel that you may find yourself surprised that Fusselman deftly and directly leads you to existential dilemmas and the absurdity of capitalism and striving for more." — The Millions
“Fusselman (Idiophone, 2018) delivers a well-paced story with gentle humor, compassion, and a sparkling, original look at the absurdities of everyday life in a world filled with inequities, financial and otherwise.” — Booklist
"[An] entertaining debut. ... Recommended to anyone who enjoys humorous fiction." — Library Journal
"Damn funny. ... Fusselman presents a hilariously heightened reality." — Shelf Awareness