“The Book of Formation is about the deformation and reformation of not just the three main personalities in this book, but the idea of personality, in general. This modern-day Kaspar Hauser story is told in as a series of interviews (the interview being the form we have created for the worship of personality) in a sincere and surprising attempt to come to terms with the pain of having a body, and the unnecessary burden of being oneself; and with the discomforts of being famous, loved, despised, and just an anonymous member of the audience. 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 of Formation.” —SHEILA HETI, author of How Should a Person Be? 

 

“Sickness, celebrity, a dismayingly plausible quasi-religious movement—The 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 Extra Lives

 

“Ambitious… strikingly intelligent.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Hypnotic, genre-bending… Question(s) the nature of faith, entertainment, celebrities, and ultimately, the way we tell our own stories.” —INTERVIEW MAGAZINE

“It’s astonishingly well done. I was gripped… This is due to Simonini’s impressive handling of his form… clearly he is an expert in the spoken word and oral storytelling.” —THE INDEPENDENT

“Ross Simonini’s The Book of Formation deftly interrogates how we become who we are… original and thought-provoking debut.” —ARKANSAS INTERNATIONAL

I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

“Simonini is a deductor.  His truth is therefore adjacent to the truth we pretend to know.   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

“A debut reminiscent of modern art—often unsettling, not always easy or beautiful, but rewarding to the reader willing to grapple with its questions.” —KIRKUS REVIEW

I highly enjoyed The Book of Formation over 2-3 days. I was stimulated by and interested in the narrator's thoughts, strategies, and insights on journalism, interviewing, and human interaction generally, his heightened attention toward social minutiae and the meaningful nuances of voice. I liked Masha's tone and language, which I found funny ("And then I told her that the turn's face was the worst face I had ever seen") and fun and poetic; his description of moving p around and passing it to another reminded me of Terence McKenna talking about visual language, how on ayahuasca one can emit a purple substance through the mouth. The games Masha described excited me and made me want to incorporate more games into my life: "And then I was only allowed to sit on a pillow and not move any part except for my eyes, which could go back and forth as long as my head didn't move." Sometimes when p was discussed, I thought of it as "the psychedelic experience," and it worked. Charting reminded me of the fertility awareness method of contraception I've been learning about recently, where women chart their temperature, vaginal sensation, and discharge to know when they are fertile or not, among other self-knowledge. The alternation of expository, narrative parts and interviews was satisfying. I found myself looking forward to each exposition, and also each new interview. The story was engrossing. I liked gradually realizing what Mull's personality was, having it dawn on me incrementally. The mentions of atypical foods—soaked acorns, ghee, goat colostrum, beet kvass, fermented lemon, organs—as well as gravity boots, bentonite-chlorella mask, intermittent fasting, and the Miwok—got my attention and helped make the world of the novel a place I felt glad to inhabit. I recommend Ross' novel and look forward to his next. - TAO LIN