JOANNA NOVAK reads from her debut novel I MUST HAVE YOU

I Must Have You (Skyhorse Publishing)

The year is 1999, and thirteen-year-old Elliot is a self-appointed "diet coach" who teaches her classmates how to survive on one stick of gum a day to get heroin-chic, Kate Moss thin. Elliot is obsessed with her best friend and former "client" Lisa, who is fresh out of inpatient treatment and dating a nineteen-year-old drug dealer. Meanwhile, Elliot's mother Anna, a capricious poetry professor, has a drug addiction and eating disorder of her own. When Lisa transfers her fixation from food to sex with her boyfriend, Elliot's fragile grip on reality begins to falter, at the same that time that Anna's fascination with the object of her own blind lust, the student who relinquishes his cocaine to her during office hours begins to consume her. I Must Have You is the story of what happens one three-day weekend in an explosion of desire, hunger, and lost innocence.

JoAnna Novak's kaleidoscope of 1990s America, filled with vibrant imagery from riot grrl graffiti to Michael Jordan posters, offers a vision of the complexities of womanhood and the culture that keeps the modern girl sick. I Must Have You is a provocative debut of rare honesty from a daring new voice. Similar to the works of Miranda July, Novak's novel will appeal to a new generation of readers who hunger for raw female protagonists.

Praise for I Must Have You

"I Must Have You is a book about girls―their secret languages and private codes, their painful preoccupations and complex compulsions, and their scary tendency, when caught in the gazes of society, men, (and worst, each other), to diminish themselves―sometimes to the point of disappearing completely. With risky, confident prose and brazen psychological renderings―not to mention a knack for getting the 90's just right―Novak takes us on a seductive, uncharted journey through modern womanhood, obsession and illness. I can honestly say I have never read anything like this book." ―Molly Pretiss, author of Tuesday Nights in 1980 "I Must Have You is a devastating novel about loving and trying to destroy one’s own body."―Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty 

"I Must Have You showcases JoAnna Novak's raw, real, and vivid voice in the character of Elliott, a sharp-tongued, sharp-witted, and complex young heroine unlike any we've met. Novak's intelligent, funny, frightening, and deeply felt novel bravely goes where this genre has not gone before: into the darker reaches of a culture that casts a long shadow across the lives of girls and women today. Novak explores the extent of our longing, and—ultimately—the source of our strength."—Marya Hornbacher, New York Times Bestselling Author of MadnessWasted, and others.

"JoAnna Novak's voice is unforgettable and her irreverent, addictive debut is sure to position her as one of the great stylists of her generation. I Must Have You is a brilliant and candid look at what it means to be a girl in this world; it's a meditation on hunger, on wanting, on the things and people that consume us, and on the things and people that we long to consume. A truly exciting, beautiful novel."—Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire and Skinny 

I Must Have You presents a harrowing and immersive story of compulsion and disorder, addiction and obsession, with frequent detours through the teenage cultural wasteland of the late nineties, all rendered in JoAnna Novak’s crazed, slang-stilted, glinting prose.”—Teddy Wayne, author of Loner 

"JoAnna Novak's I Must Have You is a rhapsodic, tumbling, yet rigorously controlled excavation of the secret worlds within us all. Her characters hurtle toward the painful pleasure of self-destruction, uninterested in stopping themselves, determined to find the next prick to make them feel alive. It's a visceral process, like picking off a scab. This is a necessary book."—Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star 

"I Must Have You is a tragic, funny, and moving coming-of-age story. It was impossible not to be swept up in JoAnna Novak's gorgeous, inventive prose, or to stop yourself from falling in love with her irreverent, wild, and ultimately human characters. I loved every word."—Anton DiSclafani, New York Times Bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls and The After Party

"Novak looks unflinchingly at the precarious attachments between female peers, mother and daughters, during some dangerous, inchoate transitions. With exacting prose she explores the the shadow terrain of female attachment, one that is uncertain at best, dangerous at worst. This is a book you'll want to look away from for its familiarity and its honesty, but you won't be able to. This story is nothing if not a disorienting mediation on the tangle of self-loathing, loneliness, and a desire for oblivion that so many women privately hold."—Rebecca Rotert, author of Last Night at the Blue Angel

JoAnna Novak's debut novel I Must Have You will be published in May 2017 and a book-length poem, Noirmania, will be published in 2018. She has written fiction, essays, poetry, and criticism for publications including Salon, Guernica, BOMBThe Rumpus, Conjunctions, and Joyland. She received her MFA in fiction from Washington University and her MFA in poetry from University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a co-founder of the literary journal and chapbook publisher, Tammy. She lives in Los Angeles. 

Event date: 
Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
I Must Have You: A Novel Cover Image
Possibly out of print. Email or call to check availability and price.
ISBN: 9781510719415
Published: Skyhorse - May 9th, 2017