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Author Event - Ross Simonini // The Book of Formation

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 movementThe Book of Formation takes a long, strange look at a culture in crisis and comes back with something magical and engrossing. This is a more than promising debut.” —Tom Bissell, author of The Disaster Artist

"Here in The Book of Formation, self-invention, reinvention and their elaborate culture go under the knife." —Jesse Ball, author of How to Set a Fire and Why


"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.” Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be

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.

Event date: 
Sunday, January 14, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Event address: 
964 Pearl St
Napa, CA 94559
The Book of Formation Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612196688
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House Publishing - November 14th, 2017

This debut novel--told in interviews--spans 20 years in the rise and fall of the charismatic leader of a seductive self-help movement.