Colorado Book Award Winner for Literary Fiction: "The colorful characters make this account of the War of 1812 a rollicking page-turner" (Publishers Weekly).In the early nineteenth century, young Henry Phipps is on a quest to realize his dying mother's last wish: to be buried at sea, surrounded by her family. Not an easy task considering Henry's ne'er-do-well father is in debtors' prison and his comically earnest older brother is busy fighting the redcoats on the battlefields of Maryland.
But Henry's stubborn determination knows no bounds. As he dodges the cannon fire of clashing armies and picks among the ruins of a burning capital, he meets looters, British defectors, renegade slaves, a pregnant maiden in distress, and scoundrels of all types. Mad Boy is at once an antic adventure and a thoroughly convincing work of historical fiction that recreates a young nation's first truly international conflict and a key moment in the history of the emancipation of African American slaves.
Entertaining, atmospheric, and touching, it is "a wartime coming-of-age story filled with nonstop action and genuine pathos" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). "This brilliant musket blast of a novel--in which the lucky reader will encounter falling cows, repurposed pickle barrels, fascinating schemes and fabulous schemers--is alive with humor, heat and heart. Mad Boy is a tremendous accomplishment. Nick Arvin is the real thing."--Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome
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About the Author
Praise for Mad Boy
"You have to love a book that starts like this: A cow falls through the roof of a house, landing on Mother. . . 'Mad Boy' is a great success, a mini-epic in just 238 pages."--The Denver Post
"A joyously earthy tale about a fascinating period of American history, Mad Boy combines the luxurious period detail of Wolf Hall with the deadpan comedy of True Grit."--Sandra Newman, author of The Country of Ice Cream Star
"With its cast of deserters and turncoats, clowns, scoundrels, Mad Boy is a bloody, rollicking picaresque."--Stewart O'Nan, author of A Prayer for the Dying
"Mad Boy is a terrific achievement. There's a vicious black humor at work here, underpinning the larger bend of the story in a way that keeps you guessing. As each new character arrives fully formed, like they've stepped out of the archive, you wonder how Arvin will keep it all together. The best part is, he does."--Rohan Wilson, author of To Name Those Lost
"Mad Boy's hero is an unforgettable creation, and his adventures move at the most satisfyingly calibrated speeds. You'll want to race through the book to see what Henry does or whom or what he encounters next, but you'll also want to slow down and savor the storytelling magic."--John Francisconi, Bank Square Books
"Arvin has produced a curious and fanciful historical novel with eccentric characters staged in a rainy and fetid world of unforgiving nature and political circumstance. Occasionally 'laugh out loud' funny, this somewhat facile work will entertain fans of dark humor, convoluted adventure stories, and historical drama."--Library Journal
"Arvin's unusual tale brings warmth to the otherwise horrific drama of wartime."--Booklist
"The colorful characters make this account of the War of 1812 a rollicking page-turner."--Publishers Weekly
"A wartime coming-of-age story filled with nonstop action and genuine pathos."--Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"This brilliant musket blast of a novel-in which the lucky reader will encounter falling cows, repurposed pickle barrels, fascinating schemes and fabulous schemers-is alive with humor, heat and heart. Mad Boy is a tremendous accomplishment. Nick Arvin is the real thing."
--Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome
"Humane and brutal but never false, Nick Arvin delivers an illuminating critique of American history and myth."--Mario Acevedo, author of The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
"Arvin masters his epic story of devastation, conflict, love, and family loyalty, all without a splinter of sentimentality. Mad Boy is a feat of magic."
--Erika Krouse, author of Contenders and Come Up and See Me Sometime
"Surreal at times and brutally realistic at others, this novel is a strange amalgam of As I Lay Dying, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Red Badge of Courage. Nick Arvin is one to watch out for!"
--John Gibbs, Green Apple Books, San Francisco
"It is a testament to a tale well told of a time barely thought about in American history that this time and these folks and our young hero all coalesce into a unique, endearing and truly marvelous story."
--Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books
Praise for Nick Arvin
For The Reconstructionist
"Nick Arvin is an immensely gifted writer, and he has given us a thrilling, soulful book."
--David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
--The Denver Post
"A masterpiece of modern fiction."
--Cortright McMeel, author of Short
"Nick Arvin has accomplished what only a handful of writers have managed--he has crafted a spare and perfect masterwork."
--Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life
For Articles of War
"A compact, intense first novel."
--New York Times Book Review
"A gem of a book . . . Beautifully written and timely."
"A textbook example of how clear and precise writing can carry a narrative."