The Book of Bunk
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The Book of Bunk (2010)
A novel by Glen Hirshberg




Paul Dent, penniless and recently orphaned, hops a train in deepest Dust Bowl Oklahoma in the Spring of 1936, and winds up attached to the Federal Writers’ Project, one of the least understood, shortest-lived, and most impossibly ambitious government undertakings in the history of the country. He is assigned to capture the essence of the mountain towns of eastern North Carolina for a series of travel books no one believes will ever be published. There, among writers and cheats, arsonists and Reconstructionists, blind and deaf children and disease-ridden Senators, Paul will meet the love of his life and her lover, witness the awakening of one great novelist and the possible resurrection of another, discover more than one America that could have been, and confront the truth about his relationship with his unpredictable, brilliant, and Machiavellian older brother.

There are echoes here of Laurel and Hardy, Bonnie and Clyde, Powell and Loy, Cain and Abel. It’s a book of bunk, in other words. A collection of lies. A creation myth about a vanished country that may or may not have existed, and the very real, conflicted nation that has sprung from it.

The Book of Bunk is the latest unclassifiable explosion of storytelling from Glen Hirshberg, the Shirley Jackson and International Horror Guild Award winning author of American Morons, The Two Sams, and The Snowman’s Children.


The Book of Bunk will be released in the following editions:

400 numbered hardcovers, fully bound in cloth with foil stamping to the spine and front board, and signed by Hirshberg

15 lettered, traycased hardcovers, book and traycase completely hand made using the finest materials, and signed by Hirshberg, $300


“This brilliant and moving novel about family, betrayal, imagination, love and identity establishes Glen Hirshberg among our most profound and necessary writers — a novelist of the old school, a master.”
— Peter Straub

The Book of Bunk is a ribald, tender, generous and mesmerizing river of American storytelling. You can swim in the smart, lush detail of the 1930’s, and the streams of vivid people in crises both tragic and picaresque. But the dueling Dent brothers are so passionate and dimensional that their hurtling momentum sweeps you away. The Book of Bunk is an amazing ride and a wonderful read.”
Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love

“Glen Hirshberg’s The Book of Bunk is a miracle of narrative diversity and drive: Stories begetting stories begetting other stories yet that, after several hundred pages, confabulate a lyrical history. It’s as if Woody Guthrie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had co-authored a 90,000-word folk song about an obscure WPA project.”
— Lucius Shepard

“In The Book of Bunk, Glen Hirshberg takes us on a journey through Depression-era, small town America that is, in turns, whimsical and tragic, romantic and true. Hirshberg has an eye for the details of the 1930s that will put readers in mind of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, while the riveting sibling rivalry that plays out between the brothers Dent is nothing short of biblical. Bunk County is a place where many of us already live, if only we could admit it.”
— Sharon Pomerantz, author of Rich Boy

The Book of Bunk is anything but, by turns powerful, sad, ecstatic, and, above all, a clear sign that the uniquely American novel is alive and well. I loved it.”
— Jeff Vandermeer, author of Finch



“Glen Hirshberg’s stories are haunting, absolutely, but not only because of the content — the stories themselves haunt, they stick around, they linger.”
— Aimee Bender

“His characters hold the long coil of human life in their hands and examine how the commonplace can spiral into a shimmering half-truth.”
— Tod Goldberg, Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review