Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: Oct. 19, 2021
Described as a “…collective of love and longing, of disappointment and loss and, ultimately, faith” (William Lychack), John Vanderslice’s new novel, Nous Nous, lays out a dark vision of the awful human consequences a community faces when one man’s small world is shattered. Never especially kind or lovable, Lawrence Baine’s life is radically changed with the birth of his daughter, Paige. She is the one thing that this career middle manager doesn’t hold in cynical disregard. Instead, she inspires a reason for him to be the best possible version of himself. Indeed, for a brief time, Baine sees, through her life, a hopeful vision of the future—until the unthinkable happens: Paige is kidnapped and brutally murdered by those who should have had her best interests at heart.
Across town, Elizabeth Riddle, a recently divorced Episcopal priest, tries to guide the diminished fortunes of her church at the same time as she manages her children’s experience of divorce. Worn down by the effort, she is blind-sided when her own daughter is kidnapped from her school’s playground.
Set in small-town Arkansas, and told through multiple voices, Nous Nous brings together these two damaged lives with all the poignancy—and painful absurdity—of our 21st century lives.
Praise for Nous Nous
“Nous Nous chronicles a crime in slow-motion, an interior thriller written with an unflinching and spare tick-tock from within the minds of those involved. You want to sprint ahead but can’t stand to miss a detail in the experience of each complex character, as each person involved inches slowly toward doom or restoration, or both.”
--Stacey Margaret Jones, author of Mr. Catherine
“Tense, menacing, and tightly constructed, Nous Nous is a deep dive into the complexities of character and the enigma of our moral universe. In precise, immersive prose, John Vanderslice snaps together a wrenching plot that engages and surprises as it moves readers through the perils and consolations of our interdependent lives. Nous Nous is a book you don’t simply read; you live through it.”
--John Fleming, author of Songs for the Deaf
“Nous Nous is both a suspenseful story about a kidnapping and an incisive meditation on what it means to be held hostage: by anger and pain and guilt. With striking generosity and empathy, Vanderslice presents the minds and hearts of complex characters united, and reunited, by tragedy.”
--Michael Kardos, author of Bluff
“If ever a novel sought to reveal the sacred in life... If ever a choir of voices and viewpoints came together with the design to lift hearts and hopes... Then Nous Nous is that collective of love and longing, of disappointment and loss and, ultimately, faith. There's a beautiful dignity and grace to be found in these modest pages, and John Vanderslice is sublime in evoking these modest lives.”
--William Lychack, author of Cargill Falls and The Wasp Eater
John Vanderslice teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas. His stories, essays, poems, and one-act plays have appeared in dozens of literary journals, including Sou’wester, South Carolina Review, Crazyhorse, 1966, Exquisite Corpse, and Seattle Review. His recent books include the historical novel The Last Days of Oscar Wilde (Burlesque Press, 2018) and a linked short story collection called Island Fog (Lavender Ink, 2014).