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The Nenoquich

Published by McNally Editions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

An unsung masterpiece squatting in the ashes of the sixties, The Nenoquich is the diary of a seducer hammering on the walls of his own loneliness.

One day, eavesdropping on a phone call, Harold Raab, a writer with nothing to write, hears his roommate refer intriguingly to a woman Harold has never met. Curiosity leads to obsession and to an affair with the married Charlotte Cobin, all of which Harold faithfully records in the notebook that becomes his deeper obsession. As the relationship with Charlotte complicates and darkens, Harold’s poisons emerge. He’s discovered a subject he can write about, but now reveals himself as someone whose intelligence, wit, and sexual delirium mask a terror of human connection. Adrift in the ruins of 1970s Berkeley, he is—like the dark hero of a nineteenth century romance—disastrously unprepared for actual love, and even for life.

Originally published in 1982 under the title False Match, and long out of print, The Nenoquich is an unsparing, painful, and often very funny story of fading illusions. It captures a generation at sea, and a seducer out of his depth. This edition includes a new preface by the author.

About The Author

Henry Bean’s screenplays include Internal Affairs, Deep Cover, and Basic Instinct 2. He wrote and directed the films The Believer and Noise, and collaborated with Chantal Akerman on several of her films. He has written for K Street (HBO) and The OA (Netflix). He has published short fiction in McSweeney’s, Black Clock, and other places. The Nenoquich remains his only novel.

Product Details

  • Publisher: McNally Editions (July 18, 2023)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781946022639

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Raves and Reviews

“This debut, or better say rebut, is our first masterpiece this decade—and it was written in 1982 . . . Some readers will recognize the slant of the pen’s I from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea (1938) or J. M. G. Le Clezio’s The Interrogation (1963) . . . [A] ruthlessly brilliant novel . . . It is a gift—a literary phenomenon of the first order . . . Bean’s sentences approach the speed of light without any loss of iridescent precision.”

– Vincenzo Barney, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Bean writes erotic scenes with a frankness and gusto uncommon in literary fiction today . . . A chronicle of sex and death in youth and a portrait of the baby boom generation at a turning point — between political radicalism and the path of temptation, fulfillment and disappointment that came to define it."

– Christian Lorentzen, New York Times

“Screenwriter Bean’s marvelous novel, first published in 1982 as False Match, is about a nenoquich—the ancient Mexican word for a lifelong loser, born under a bad sign. It’s 1970, and wannabe writer Harold Raab, 26, is on the skids . . . His life acquires meaning when he meets the married Charlotte Cobin . . . Tension develops not only through Harold’s heartache and confusion, but in the fact that as his life crumbles, he finally has something to write about. Rediscovered, this stands as one of the great novels of adulthood’s losing battles.”

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The recent reissue of Bean’s novel, The Nenoquich, makes one wish he had kept writing books . . . It’s mordant, dark, and funny, written with an eye for the telling detail, through which an entire personality unfurls itself before our eyes, fully formed. It is disturbing and unsettling in the way of great writing. It even has a plot . . . It’s a disturbing enough premise, somewhere at the nexus of Highsmith, Nabokov, and Sentimental Education, but the grimness of it is leavened by Harold’s charm. He’s funny and beguiling . . . The book is remarkable.”

– Christopher Carroll, Harper's

“A profound and disturbing riff on the solipsistic confusion between art and life; at the same time an exacting portrait of a moment when a counterculture’s illusions are being laid bare. I’ve never been able to pick it up without being swept again, by its unique descriptive velocity and attitude, to the cataclysm of its finish. There’s something of Charles Willeford here, and something of Ingmar Bergman, and maybe a kind of Berkeley version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Under any title, a masterwork.”

– Jonathan Lethem

"I don’t know if I’ve ever read a novel that so consistently got things right: often, things you never thought mattered, never thought of at all, things that matter only because Henry Bean has singled them out and made lives turn around them . . . A terrific novel, the best fiction I've read in 1982."

– Greil Marcus, California

“Revolutionary . . . While looking back to a tradition inaugurated by Goethe’s Werther, Bean composed a novel that anticipated a problem that would soon vex Gen X—the idea that allowing yourself to admit love for anyone or anything is itself a kind of selling out to capitalism and the bourgeoisie. The ending is a sign that the author was always destined for Hollywood.”

– Marco Roth, Tablet Magazine

"Such a dark and devious first novel, so steeped in a man's manipulation of another life, so full of the self-loathing that is unloving loving - and yet so strong, so close to the new human nature . . . Erotic, hard, even mean, [The Nenoquich] is adult reading. The redeeming social virtues are in manner and meaning.”

– Art Seidelbaum, Los Angeles Times

“There's a Nabokovian cunning in this first novelist’s careful portrayal of his creepy protagonist, Harold Raab, a dropout from the 1960s who can only connect with the world around him through the exercise of fantasy . . . Its steely concentration and understated emotional force make [The Nenoquich] a thoroughly successful experiment.”

– Bruce Allen, Chicago Tribune Sun

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