Fiction. Melba Zuzzo, erstwhile innocent of the male-heavy hamlet of Dan, a town located in the foothills of ... somewhere? ... finds herself in a rut. In fact she was probably born into this rut, but today, for some reason, she feels suddenly aware of it. Everything is changing, yet nothing is making sense. The people she might rely upon, the habits she should find comforting--everything is off. It's as if life, which has gone by largely unnoticed up to now, has been silently conspiring against her the whole time. In DAN, Joanna Ruocco has created a slapstick parable that brings together the restless undercurrents and unabashed campiness of Thomas Pynchon with the meandering imaginative audacity of Raymond Roussel. Either Dan is a state of mind, beyond the reach of any physical map, or else it sits on every map unnoticed, tucked beneath the big red dot that tells us YOU ARE HERE.
"Ruocco spins unusual shapes out of language, but not because her interests are narrowly linguistic. By reshaping language, she redefines the world it conjures forth. Her fiction so often flirts with the fantastic perhaps because she understands that when language stops operating according to its ordinary rules, it creates an alternate reality, swerving away from what normally counts as 'real.'?"--The Nation
"Ruocco is consistently inventive. She tilts the world as we know it, challenging our senses."--Triquarterly
"Joanna Ruocco's DAN is a tiny novel that packs a massive punch."--Bustle
"Ruocco has given serious thought to how much she can do with language while still preserving a story's integrity... Modernist-style experimentation ain't dead yet. Giddy, intriguing stuff from a writer eager to let words misbehave."--Kirkus
"Ruocco's work is cutting-edge, pushing the established tropes within contemporary fiction, calling her readers to interpret and examine the nuances of seemingly everyday life."--Publishers Weekly
"This outrageously hilarious book is also a warning against how others will happily use our hope, our empathy, and our imaginations against us... even while they are eating our hot pretzels."--Drunken Boat
"This novel is funny and smart but knows how to balance both deftly enough to create a genuine world out of the completely obtuse."--ASKMEN