This debut novel—told in interviews—spans 20 years in the rise and fall of the charismatic leader of a seductive self-help movement.
In the 1990s, a talk show host leads the “personality movement,” an integrative approach to radical self-transformation. Mayah, the movement’s architect and celebrity advocate, adopts a curious, wild child named Masha Isle. A guinea-pig for the movement, and the key to its future, Isle is the subject of the eight interviews that comprise this book.
As the interviewer’s objectivity disintegrates—even as the movement’s legitimacy becomes increasingly suspect—he becomes obsessed with Masha. And all of that is thrown into question when tragedy strikes.
The stunning debut of a new literary talent, and a fascinating take on the cult of personality: about celebrities need to destroy and recreate themselves to stay relevant, public personalities coming to belong to everyone, and about our need to see everyone as a kind of celebrity.
“Sickness, celebrity, a dismayingly plausible quasi-religious movement—The Book of Formation
"If you want a book unlike any you have ever read, but like so many of the delicious things in our culture (The Oprah Winfrey show, Interview magazine) you have no reason not to begin the original, fascinating and humane Book ofFormation.” —
Ross Simonini is an writer, artist and musician living in Northern California. He is the interviews editor for The Believer and executive producer of The Organist. He contributes to the New York Times, Art in America, McSweeneys, Interview and frieze. He occasionally teaches seminars on oral literature at Columbia University.
This debut novel--told in interviews--spans 20 years in the rise and fall of the charismatic leader of a seductive self-help movement.