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“Terse and intense and new…I loved it.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There
“Fuccboi is its generation’s coming of age novel…Utterly of its moment, of this moment.”—Jay McInereny, Wall Street Journal
A fearless and savagely funny examination of masculinity under late capitalism from an electrifying new voice.
Set in Philly one year into Trump’s presidency, Sean Thor Conroe’s audacious, freewheeling debut follows our eponymous fuccboi, Sean, as he attempts to live meaningfully in a world that doesn’t seem to need him. Reconciling past, failed selves—cross-country walker, SoundCloud rapper, weed farmer—he now finds himself back in his college city, trying to write, doing stimulant-fueled bike deliveries to eat. Unable to accept that his ex has dropped him, yet still engaged in all the same fuckery—being coy and spineless, dodging decisions, maintaining a rotation of baes—that led to her leaving in the first place. But now Sean has begun to wonder, how sustainable is this mode? How much fuckery is too much fuckery?
Written in a riotous, utterly original idiom, and slyly undercutting both the hypocrisy of our era and that of Sean himself, Fuccboi is an unvarnished, playful, and searching examination of what it means to be a man.
“Got under my skin in the way the best writing can.” —Sheila Heti
Misanthropy comes of an all too greedy love.
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Got into a thing with the Fresh Grocer lady over coffee filters.
It honestly wasn’t a biggie, but why say they’re on sale if they aren’t, all I’m sayin.
She was like This muhfucker. What aisle.
I told her what aisle and we went and checked. Together.
Well we started to, but then she told me not to follow her when she noticed me following her.
I was like Aite, fasho, putting my hands up. Like I’ll hold it down. Man the reg’.
When she came back and said No du’, they ain’t on sale, I snapped.
That’s why I tried to come with! I said. To show you they are.
So we checked, actually together this time, she hemming and hawing the whole way.
Honestly can’t remember whether they were or weren’t, but I’ll never forget that incident. It connected us. It marked the start of a long, fruitful, and strictly nocturnal friendship.
Too fucking cold out.
Too fucking cold!
I balaclava’d up and put my head down, weaving through a herd of incoming undergrads.
Not I; but they, very much so by the looks.
I’d started shopping at 2 a.m., and the pod I listened to while shopping was almost through, so had to be 3 damn near.
Right before I hit play again, one of the undergrads yelled “Water! I need water!” and another yelled “Lacy! You can’t drink that!”
Caught a glimpse of Lacy squatted like she was pissing, chugging from a 2-gallon guy on display in the vestibule there, laughing and spilling most of it, stance wide so it missed her feet.
Takin a piss.
Takin a piss in the Fresh Grocer!
Pulled my Nike Dri-Fit snapback I found in the street down low, over my balaclava, under my hood. Unlocked my bike and got to walking.
My thing lately was sticking to 41st.
Walking down 41st and only 41st, whenever possible.
Doing so was how I managed to leave my house.
41st was my block.
Fuck you, high-30s UPenn motherfuckers with your dorms and well-insulated jackets and bike cops and senses of purpose.
Eat all the dicks.
And you, mid-40s kombucha-guzzling hippies with your communal housing and fermented foods and jars and senses of purpose.
The fuck y’all know about 41st Street.
That shit ain’t even straight.
It zigged east a half block at Market, zagged west a quarter block at Walnut, and was paved for shit all along.
Ran one way one block and the other way the next.
Wasn’t respected as a thru street.
But walking it.
Kept things interesting.
Turned on Postmates and started unloading groceries, back at the spot.
The lights were out and roomie’s bike was gone, which meant he was at the wifey’s.
Probably cuddled up, spooning.
Netflix auto-playing atop their shared covers.
Just like the rest of the simps: accepting affection from others to mask the pain of themselves.
One pound russet potatoes ($2) on the counter, in the corner. One pound cooking onions ($2), next to that. Seven-grain soft white presliced loaf ($2) and Bustelo tin ($4) in the cabinet, above. And eggs ($1.50), Vermont sharp white cheddar ($1.69), and bag of clearance, overripe avos ($1) in the fridge.
Got a ding right when I least expected it.
Right when I’d forgotten I’d logged on.
When I’d settled into the couch and opened YouTube.
Pizza spot in south.
South of Snyder south.
Hit accept before fully considering the logistics.
This was my life now.
Was it even open still.
Would they even be awake still by the time I got it to them.
Would my prepaid Postmates Fleet credit card even work, like it hadn’t been lately.
Were my thoughts as I huffed it—wheezed—across the Schuylkill.
Mellow but popping still somewhat, somehow, once across.
People still out tryna fuck or get home or not get home just yet.
Folks passed out on cardboard, in nooks, on Market approaching City Hall.
Could feel the Under Armour rubbing against the rash below my right pec, extending into my right pit.
Shoulda vaselined that bih.
Forgot to vaseline that bih.
Gotta remember to!
For now, less upper-body, side-to-side movement.
Yelled “Yo fuck your lights!” as I ran my third red and skrt-ed right down 16th.
Loudly I think but hard to say over the Kodak blaring in my balaclava-compressed earbuds, wedged deep into my earholes.
Gassed by the time I arrived at the pizza joint.
Right at their 4 a.m. closing time.
Drunk folks huddled out front, inhaling slices off paper plates.
Mopping going on, inside.
Retrieved the package from the bada-bing bada-bang mobster types working counter.
Guzzled down the cig roach I’d stashed in my pant-leg roll, while waiting for the drop-off location to load, side-to-side shimmying to keep warm.
They didn’t tell you the drop-off till after.
How they got you.
One of the girls in the outdoor pizza-eating crew eyed me from beneath the fur of her parka, through the glitter/tears of her eyes/lashes. Chomping with her mouth open.
Or maybe not tears.
Maybe it was just cold.
I don’t know.
I looked away, but understood her gaze.
Who tf is this guy.
Why is he here now.
Babe, I’m right there with ya!
My whole vibe, of a sudden, seemingly: so serial killer-y.
When did that happen.
Feel like it had to have been fairly recent.
Feel like it can’t have always been like that.
Definitely wasn’t before—
Just devouring data, this app.
OK, 48th, little further than ideal.
But I’ll take it!
Took her a sec to come to the door; but she did, eventually.
Like she’d stayed in, couldn’t sleep, and got hungry.
Coulda sworn it woulda been a shitfaced bro.
Can’t guess em all, innit.
She was light-skinned but in a way that made me think college transplant versus intergenerational local.
Plus this block, Cedar, despite extending this far out west, was one of the whiter ones.
I worried she’d think I was considering overpowering her with my maleness, forcefully entering, and having my way with her—which I wasn’t considering, not even a bit, beyond the possibility of her thinking it—so I pulled down my balaclava, below my chin, to show my face, and removed my hat—before putting my hat back on since a bare-balaclava’d head looked weirder, I decided.
But she didn’t seem scared.
Not even a bit.
Hit me with a thanks.
Then closed and locked the door.
I shuffled down the porch steps a step at a time, back to my bike, looking at my phone waiting for my payout to load.
Three drops of snot dripped off the tip of my nose, one after the other.
New Year’s Eve 2017
I pulled up early to the house I used to live in.
For the New Year’s party my ex roomies were throwing.
I showed up on time, but no one besides my ex roomies were there, since on time was early at parties.
I hadn’t been drinking or going to parties for months now, so I’d forgotten.
But here I was.
At a party.
So I started drinking.
Last year’s New Year’s got ugly.
Happened here, at this house, only back then I still lived in it.
Had just moved into it.
Into the third-floor ‘closet-room.’
I had, since, graduated into a new ‘closet-room,’ across town.
This new room itself had a closet.
Which I think disqualified it from being a closet.
But same feel.
Same shitty ventilation.
But last year.
The beginning of the end.
Or end of the beginning.
Or maybe just beginning.
Of the sadness.
When ex bae and I decided to open things up.
Or maybe when ex bae got a firsthand look into how I polyamorized when she wasn’t around.
Before we’d agreed that polyamory was what we were doing.
Side bae coming on strong, all of us coming up, and me shrugging like Hey, ex bae, whattaya want me to do?
Side bae tryna get it.
That’s her right.
All about equal rights here.
Just like it’s my right to be a spineless fuck with no loyalty or resolve.
That dang molly!
Ex bae, though.
She’d be back.
I was sure of it.
Just needed time.
To hammer home that she wasn’t fucking around.
She was waiting it out, making me suffer, forcing me to reckon fully with my Destiny, without the buffer of her affection, so I’d be left with no choice but to ‘make it.’
Hit it big.
Show em all.
And then. Only then would she return.
But this year.
This year wasn’t last year.
This was a New Year.
Side bae showed up around eleven with the beans, like she’d promised.
I’d insisted No, not this time around, I was done with that.
Right up until the moment she procured my double-dose capsule.
Till she handed me the beer to wash it down with, watching to make sure I swallowed.
Right up until then, I resisted.
But how assertively she asserted.
Yes ma’am, I said, swallowing.
Too much activity going on, all around.
I returned to the middle-room couch.
Next to the roomie, who showed up with his wifey not long before side bae did.
We fit in due to our education level, but also remained slightly outside, due to our hapa-ness.
Our shared misanthropy.
He was on something too, wasn’t sure what. But we started talking faster and faster and more emotionally and less judgmentally.
I’d cut my hair, dolled myself up, and washed for tonight.
Felt prettier and prettier the more people showed.
Still didn’t interact with anyone besides the roomie and those who approached me—in the corner, on the couch—but began conducting myself in a more and more performative way.
Not performing for anyone.
Just aware of being watched.
Once the bean kicked in I started wilding.
Flirting up a storm.
Up and off the couch.
No one was off-limits.
Anyone could get it.
Whispered into peripheral bae’s ear “We both know we both want it. Have wanted it. Tonight’s the night. Tonight you can get it.”
Then winked and backed away, into a crowd.
Told ex-roomie bae’s out-of-town, pretty-boy bestie “No you’re right, I guess I don’t know until I’ve tried it. So what are you gonna do to try me?”
Went up to unfamiliar bae, in the middle of a convo, and corralled her into my dancing vortex when “Starboy” came on for the umpteenth time.
Went “Ayyy, college!” when ex-roomie bro said “Her?! She’s still in college, bro!” after I asked him if he knew unfamiliar bae and, if so, what her deal was.
Side bae was less than impressed.
Cornered me in the packed kitchen, by the drink station.
Said You need to focus.
Gestured circularly in her face area.
Then put her hand on her hip and cocked her head like And? What do you have to say to that?
Oh side bae.
Side bae, she was a grown-ass woman.
Had two years on me.
Sexy when she told me what to do.
She knew what she wanted, and how to make known her terms and conditions.
Thing was, that was only the half.
I knew what I wanted. I’d made known my terms and conditions.
But getting them…
“Hahaaa, ayyy, woah,” I said.
“Whattaya want from me, bae?” I said.
“Skiddly doot pop?” I said, handling her hips, touching groins, and smelling her all over—neck, pits, tummy.
Side bae said: “Dance floor.”
Grabbed my wrist and led me two rooms over, through a crowd, to the front room.
To the dance floor.
Danced with a coy pout on her face, directed towards me until I gave her my full attention; then away from me once I did, but dancing for me, wanting me to watch; and then towards me again when she noticed I wasn’t watching.
I couldn’t stay focused.
So many baes.
Too many feelings.
And never enough to fill the hole inside.
Got ensnared in unfamiliar bae’s dance vortex.
Got sent spiraling her way.
Wasn’t two two-steps in when I felt myself yanked another way.
Side bae pulled me into a corner. Hard.
Harder than she meant to, maybe, because immediately after she went small again.
She’d initiated it; but somehow, I felt like the dominant one.
Like she wanted me to be the dominant one.
Like she was testing me.
So I did the only thing I could think to. What I coulda sworn she wanted.
Grasped her by the neck—firmly enough for her to feel it, gently enough to not leave a mark or obstruct her breathing, just like she’d taught me—and pinned her to the wall, leaning in to nuzzle her ear.
She grabbed my wrist. Hard.
Not in front of people.
Not unless I say to.
Around 2 a.m.
Big Indian dude I didn’t recognize, hovering in the front room. By the piano.
“My guy,” I said. “Doin arite?”
He looked at me surprised, like Me?
Yeah you, pal.
Oh yeah, me, doing great.
I poured him and myself a shot of the sake I’d brought, that I’d been lugging around, then lost, then found, then was lugging around again.
He looked around skittish, eyes bulgy and unfocused.
“Yo so you Indian, huh?”
“Lit. Born there?”
He told me he was born in Baltimore. Where his parents immigrated to.
“Ah,” I said. “B-more.”
Made a Wire reference.
Side bae entered the front room, looking tired.
Gave me a cryptic, mostly frustrated-seeming look.
Went upstairs with her bestie.
To re-up, probably.
“Well here’s to our respective Asian brethren. Holding down our respective motherlands,” I said, pouring and shooting another shot.
Started rolling a cig.
“Y’know,” I said. “I was actually born in Tokyo. Lived there till I was five. Been back a few times since.
“Recently, as I learned more about my family history—white dad’s dad a U.S. Air Force pilot, mom’s dad’s entire fam besides him bombed out and merked by U.S. planes—I started to wonder why my mom moved us. Why she let me lose my Japanese. Why she let me get so detached from Japanese culture.
“Can’t even speak to my baba hardly!
“But what I realized—,” I began.
Before side bae started tugging on me again.
I looked at Indian homie like in slo-mo.
He receded past the wall and out of sight as I fell back, through the middle room, into the kitchen, and out the back door. Down the back steps, to the backyard. Where side bae fed me more drugs.
Commotion in the front room, when I returned.
Front door wide open, wind billowing up the curtains.
Weird contrast between the fluorescent streetlight outside, emanating off the snow in the yard, and the blacklight of the front-room dance floor.
“Starboy” blasting again.
Forged ahead, to close the door.
Partiers adjacent to it, talking like discussing versus talking like flirting.
Not closing the door.
Why weren’t they.
Right when I was about to, Indian dude came barging in.
“Ayyy, woah,” I said, arms wide in welcome before, a split second later, realizing this wasn’t one of those barge-ins.
This was a different kind.
“Bud, bud, hey,” I said, blocking his path and spreading my arms, but now to stabilize him.
“Where ya goin.”
“Fuck you motherfucker,” he yelled. “All o’ yous.”
“Bud, what happened.”
He flailed to his right, to a group of white girls.
“Ohhhkay,” I said, grabbing him by his shirt collar and pushing him back.
“And you!” he yelled over my shoulder. “Fuck you too, white motherfucker!”
Dude was heavy.
Pushing him, I felt like a lineman pushing those dummy linemen linemen push in football practice drills.
Ex-roomie bro—whom he was pointing at—was like Wha?—before Indian dude grabbed the coat rack over my head and tried to blitz past me—before ex-roomie bro hit him with a linebacker tackle and pushed him back to where I’d gotten him.
Back into the doorway.
I threw all the coats off me like “Ohhhkay, done playing nice.” Pushed him through the boot room and down the front steps. Like Fuck outta here, bitch.
Was pissed now.
But also hyper-lit, euphoric almost, given the adrenaline plus molly.
“Terse and intense and new and sort of fucked up but knowingly so. I loved it.”
—TOMMY ORANGE, author of THERE THERE
- “Got under my skin in the way the best writing can.”—SHEILA HETI
- “Blazes a sonic trail through the tangles of experience. A contemporary künstleroman—a coming of age of an artist. So much about the struggle to find a nourishing and communally beneficial but still honest and not self-suppressing way to be a man.”—SAM LIPSYTE, author of HARK
“The Odyssey, the Bible, Dante’s Inferno, Hamlet, Ulysses, Infinite Jest…Fuccboi.”
- “A startling, scabrous, big swaggy flex of a debut…a magnetic voice.”—Hermione Hoby, BOOKFORUM
“Fuccboi is its generation’s coming of age novel…Conroe’s prose seduces, and like all good writing, demands a degree of intimacy between narrator and reader… He has a distinctive, compelling voice that strikes me as utterly of its moment, of this moment... As bookish as this novel is, it seems like a genuine attempt to speak to some of those who don’t normally give a shit about books, or at least, those who don’t read The Paris Review and The New York Review of Books—while also being worth the attention of those who do.”
—Jay McInerny, WALL STREET JOURNAL
- “A completely unique voice . . . sounds like no one I know.”—SCOTT MCCLANAHAN, author of THE SARAH BOOK
- “Sean Thor Conroe's blistering debut, Fuccboi, asks 2022's quintessential question: just how much fuckery is too much fuckery? Following the titular, freewheeling fuccboi around Philly, one year into Trump's presidency, the novel examines modern manhood, the gig economy and the hypocrisy of political promises.”—VICE
- “A mélange of cheap beer and philosophical musing, of millennial daftness and struggle, loneliness and imagination…Conroe’s words trek down the page with frenetic speed—a linguistic hustle, of sorts…jazzed, clipped, energetic—I loved it.”—Miah Jeffra, THE RUMPUS
- "fresh prose, colloquial and poetic."—Keziah Weir, VANITY FAIR
- “Praised by ballsy writers like Tommy Orange and Nico Walker, Fuccboi is a debut coming-of-age (but probably not in the traditional sense!) novel about hypocrisy and self-awareness.”—NYLON, January’s Must Reads
- “Thrilling in its urgent audacity.”—Israel Daramola, VULTURE, Most Anticipated Books of 2022
“Conroe’s writing percolates with savage humor and wry observations on human complexity…Conroe works with a really rare audacity and slyness to ask – how much fuckery is too much fuckery?”
—ANOTHER MAGAZINE, Most Anticipated Books of 2022
- “Conroe delivers a striking and hyper-stylized debut about a young male writer, also named Sean Thor Conroe, whose lexicon reflects Drake lyrics and the scrolls of Reddit and Twitter. . . Along the way, Sean demonstrates a passion for Nietzsche, Bolaño, and Wittgenstein. . . An undeniably rich mix of ingredients for autofiction.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
- "Electrifying debut. . . which approaches modern manhood with a deft, self-aware touch. Written in an engrossing, choppy cadence that sews together Philly slang and Twitterspeak, Fuccboi is an entirely singular, caustic book. . . . A rare, bracingly complicated narrator. There’s an impish vein of humour that courses through Fuccboi, with Conroe evidently in full control of a tricky narrative.”—Patrick Sproull, HUCK
- “A book to argue and laugh with; be appalled and impressed by. Fuccboi wrestles with big questions about masculinity and modernity, but best of all are its intimate and domestic moments: like Knausgaård, Conroe has a knack for making the mundane enthralling.”—CHRIS POWER, author of MOTHERS and A LONELY MAN
- “Modern mores and a certain type of twentysomething male energy clash colorfully in the vibrant voice of this debut novel… Conroe’s punchy variant includes rap slang and internet speak, bc that’s how it is now, bruh. He also fucks with those one-line paras. Quick blunt insights, stacked up n shit…Fuccboi’s main claim to newness lies in the narrator’s middle-way attitude to the ball-aching social justice religion that clogs the air of American cultural life…The internalized contradictions of his dementing culture manifest in amusing ways…I enjoyed being led through the vagaries of Sean’s ‘sus hetero bro’ existence.”—Rob Doyle, THE GUARDIAN
- “What Conroe does so excellently is enrapture us within the psyche of this unpleasant figure, entangle us with Sean’s brain worms and force us, reluctantly, to look again…Dare I be so despotic as to proclaim Fuccboi a necessary novel? You bet I do! How brilliant to finally have a novel that examines contemporary masculinity with such candor, with such humor and style as to immediately read like a modern classic. Sean Thor Conroe is a real one.” —Barry Pierce, THE IRISH TIMES
- "We are all a product of our time, and for Conroe’s protagonist, his crisis of masculinity is also modern America’s crisis of masculinity. If men are still choking on the toxicity of historical conventions of gender, then literature should be a welcoming space for exploring, questioning and airing the “savage, ugly, testosterone-fuelled, shameful” things that we would all rather repress – regardless of gender."—Katie Goh, THE SKINNY
- "Fuccboi has crawled up people’s backsides in a way only the best fiction does, especially when it holds a mirror up to the cultural zeitgeist – and the reflection isn’t always so pretty."—Jade Wickes, THE FACE
- "Written with a caustic sense of humour... Conroe peels back the Carhartt and confronts the anxieties at the Fuccboi’s core, with verve, humour and empathy. It’s essentially a bildungsroman for a generation of disaffected men."—Nessa Humayun, HUNGER
“One of the successes of Sean Thor Conroe’s exploration of contemporary masculinity in Fuccboi is making dishonesty function at the level of style rather than content…Uninterested in any moralizing framework, Fuccboi turns its attention instead to the inner life of a perceived ‘bad guy.’ What we find there is not a sociopathic manipulator but instead someone so overwhelmed by their own psychic life that clear communication is just hard… Conroe invites us to have sympathy for a narrator who has gone out of his way to make us revile him. This portrayal forces on us the question: If we find Sean morally repugnant, what kind of life would he need to have to improve?”
—Ed Luker, JACOBIN
- “The novel is about something more interesting than sex. It’s an account of a highly specific crack-up, and a largely self-inflicted one, though a few of the usual suspects, among them capitalism and the American healthcare system, share some of the blame…Another title for Fuccboi might have been Burakumin, the term for the outcast children of Japanese hamlets… It’s to this tradition that Fuccboi belongs and in which it succeeds.”—Christian Lorentzen, LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS
“Written like the best, most frenetic conversation you’ve ever had with your BFF, this debut exposes the raw nerves of Millennial masculinity.”
—BOOKLIST, The Best Millennial Novels (So Far)
- On Sale
- Jan 17, 2023
- Page Count
- 352 pages
- Back Bay Books