Plastic: A Novel (Hardcover)

Plastic: A Novel By Scott Guild Cover Image
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For fans of Interior Chinatown and American War, a surreal, hilarious, and sneakily profound debut novel that casts our current climate of gun violence and environmental destruction in a surprising new mold.

"A stunningly brilliant novel. One of those books that will follow you around, into your dreams and your daily life. You have never read anything like it."Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Hero of This Book

Erin is a plastic girl living in a plastic world. Every day she eats a breakfast of boiled chicken, then conveys her articulated body to Tablet Town, where she sells other figurines Smartbodies: wearable tech that allows full, physical immersion in a virtual world, a refuge from real life’s brutal wars, oppressive governmental monitoring, and omnipresent eco-terrorist insurgency. If you cut her, she will not bleed—but she and her fellow figurines can still be cracked or blown apart by gunfire or bombs, or crumble away from nuclear fallout. Erin, who's lost her father, sister, and the love of her life, certainly knows plenty about death.
      An attack at her place of work brings Erin another too-intimate experience, but it also brings her Jacob: a blind figurine whom she comforts in the aftermath, and with whom she feels an almost instant connection. For the first time in years, Erin begins to experience hope—hope that until now she's only gleaned from watching her favorite TV show, the surrealist retro sitcom “Nuclear Family.” Exploring the wild wonders of the virtual reality landscape together, it seems that possibly, slowly, Erin and Jacob may have a chance at healing from their trauma. But then secrets from Erin's family's past begin to invade her carefully constructed reality, and cracks in the facade she's constructed around her life threaten to reveal everything vulnerable beneath.
     Both a crypto-comedic dystopian fantasy and a deadly serious dissection of our own farcical pre-apocalypse, Scott Guild’s debut novel is an achingly beautiful, disarmingly welcoming, and fabulously inventive look at the hollow core of modern American society—and a guide to how we might reanimate all its broken plastic pieces.

About the Author

SCOTT GUILD received his​ MFA from the New Writers Project at the University of Texas at Austin, and his PhD in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He served for years as assistant director of Pen City Writers, a prison writing initiative for incarcerated students. He is currently an assistant professor at Marian University in Indianapolis, where he teaches literature and creative writing. Before his degrees, Scott was the songwriter and lead guitarist for the new wave band New Collisions, which toured with the B-52s and opened for Blondie.

Praise For…


“Call it George Saunders Barbie. . . . The novel’s sustained W.T.F. brazenness deserves applause. . . . Plastic also earns comparisons to works by Tom McCarthy, Kazuo Ishiguro, and even Bertolt Brecht. Its rigorously superficial world manages to raise urgent questions about climate change, political violence, and spirituality with high intelligence.”
—Ryan Chapman, The New York Times Book Review

“Scott Guild has created something fascinating with his debut novel, Plastic. His book is filled with surrealism and dark comedy that makes real people out of plastic characters. They are truly complicated and three-dimensional and the reader can really identify with them. I know I sure did.”
—Doug Gordon, NPR

“With climate change, gun violence, and nuclear fallout, this dystopian comedy looks eerily similar to our world.”
—Beth Golay, NPR

“An epic music/novel project.”
—Brett Milano, The Boston Herald

“A dark and entertaining saga about a postapocalyptic world populated by plastic figurines, dominated by inescapable advertising, in thrall to virtual reality and fearful of increasing acts of eco-terrorism as well as government clampdowns. . . . Plastic is that rarest of publishing experiences.”
—Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times

"A world constructed from strange and wondrous materials. A world that is deeply strange and deeply familiar, with language to matchfunny, broken, sad, and beautiful. Evocative and highly original, Plastic is a captivating debut."
—Charles Yu, National Book Award–winning author of Interior Chinatown

“An immensely fun, engaging novel. . . . Plastic put me in mind of James Morrow or T.C. Boyle, and . . . its gonzo critique of capitalism reminded me of nothing so much as Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. . . . Where Plastic shines is in how it remains focused on humanity—no matter how superficial or hollow circumstances make us—and in its sheer inventive sense of play, even with such stakes.”
Jake Casella Brookins, Chicago Review of Books

“I cannot recommend Plastic enough.”
Nick Spacek,
The Pitch

"I don't know how to describe Scott Guild's Plastic, a stunningly brilliant novel, other than to say it is profound, hilarious, wrenching, bizarre, about an imaginary universe with incalculable complexities that is also somehow our own broken world. It's one of those books that will follow you around, into your dreams and your daily life. You have never read anything like it. Scott Guild is an endlessly inventive and deeply exciting writer, morbid and funny and strange and humane."
—Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Hero of This Book

“Intricately familiar, disturbingly surreal, and playfully interesting. Coming off the summer of Barbie, you might recognize Plastic’s protagonist, Erin. . . . Wonderfully inventive . . . Plastic is a major treat.”
—Sam Franzini,
Our Culture Mag

"Equal parts funny and poignant, this debut is a deft examination of America and our collective humanity. Clever and wildly imaginative, Plastic has heartfelt heft."
—Parini Shroff, author of The Bandit Queens

"Plastic is one of the most strangely tender and tenderly strange books I've ever read. Scott Guild's language is transportive, and his attention to the characters peopling his unique world is deeply moving. This book is the real deal: fresh, utterly its own, full of both humor and pathos, and so utterly human (plastic skin aside)."
—Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother’s Lovers

“In Plastic, the collision of figurines and the apocalypse is timely, coming as it does on the heels of Barbenheimer. It’s a weird, sometimes puzzling and complicated book, to be sure, but an affecting one with way more depth and humanity than its title would let on.”
—Maren Longbella,
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[Plastic] teeters on a tightrope between comedy and incisive commentary. . . . A compelling narrative about a young woman dealing with trauma. . . . Plastic is a book that will stay on my mind.”
Tara Campbell, Washington Independent Review of Books

“Scott Guild . . . has created a literary and sonic universe where his characters have sprung to life, leaping off the page.”
Michael Lello, Highway 81 Revisited

"Few writers are more brilliant, captivating, and hilarious than Scott Guild. He is a visionary—and what he envisions is terrifying, yes, but also full of love, hope, and radiance. Plastic, with its large-hearted characters and riveting storytelling, will certainly turn out to be one of the best novels of the year."
—Deb Olin Unferth, author of Barn 8

"Plastic is a marvel, gimlet-eyed and utterly charming all at once. It’s one of those rare novels that has both big ideas and a big heart. I’m tantalized by its sci-fi grooviness but also moved by the dolls’ interiority, their assessment of their own humanity."
—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Perfume Thief

“Delightfully weird.”
Alison Flood, New Scientist

“Guild’s novel is cinematic. With tones of Black Mirror’s ethical acuity and the quirkiness of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. . . . There remains a tenderness that is at times whimsical in the figurines’ demonstration of how trauma, grief, and disability are still entrenched in the human need for connection.”
—Lillian Liao, Booklist

“Guild shines in his impressions of a speculative world. . . . It’s great fun watching Guild arrange the pieces of this inspired allegory.”
Publishers Weekly

"Guild works the parody and pathos well in this thoughtful entertainment, expertly managing to extract concern and sympathy for the plights of these plastic characters, as human as we are despite their occasionally squeaking leg hinges."
Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593316764
ISBN-10: 0593316762
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: February 13th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English