© Ben Dolnick



A stunning novel of friendship, guilt, and madness: two friends, torn apart by a terrible secret, and the dark adventure that neither of them could have ever conceived. It’s been ten years since the “incident,” and Adam has long since decided he’s better off without his former best friend, Thomas. Adam is working as a tutor, sleeping with the mother of a student, spending lonely nights looking up his ex-girlfriend on Facebook, and pretending that he has some more meaningful plan for an adult life. But when he receives an email from Thomas’s mother begging for his help, he finds himself drawn back into his old friend’s world, and into the past he’s tried so desperately to forget. As Adam embarks upon a magnificently strange and unlikely journey, Ben Dolnick unspools a tale of spiritual reckoning, of search and escape, of longing and reaching for redemption—a tale of near hallucinatory power.

Reviews Next

"Dolnick has retained his strengths—his sensitive gauge for emotional states and his empathy—but his writing is more taut, more piquant, not only observant but wry in its depiction of human fallibility. The result is a lively, often funny book about being young and smart and confused, fumbling through life in a middle-class American sort of way . . . . Dolnick narrates with a deft comic touch . . . . In this slim, surprisingly haunting book, Dolnick reminds us that part of being a healthy and functional human is a willingness to act a little bit selfish, a little cruel in our ability to walk away from the pain of others.”
— Adelle Waldman , The New York Times Book Review
“Terrific, seemingly effortless . . . . Dolnick's prose has abundant charm, humor, and intelligence, a knack for vivid details and stunning metaphors, and so many richly imagined characters that it calls to mind an updated Fitzgerald.”
— Village Voice
“Gripping . . . . [AT THE BOTTOM OF EVERYTHING] shines as an examination of the ephemeral foundations of youth and friendship . . . . Dolnick perfectly captures the unstoppable inertia of kids growing apart...”
“An engrossing, often wrenching novel about the limits of love and friendship, not to mention self-knowledge. Dolnick writes with wisdom, humor, and real grace.”
— Sam Lipsyte , author of Home Land and The Fun Parts
“Dolnick writes with the assurance and wisdom of an author twice his age. At the Bottom of Everything turns a story about a childhood friendship into a moving exploration of the deepest questions life offers. This book does something more important than depict the ‘way we live now.’ It asks whether the way we live now is really ‘living’ at all.”
— Victor LaValle , author of The Devil in Silver
“A remarkable story about the enduring nature of childhood friendship and the burdens that such a friendship can impose on a person regardless of age or will. It’s a clear-eyed, unwavering look into the nature of guilt and the ways in which a split-second decision can change the lives of people forever. I found myself both breathlessly racing to the end of the book and also terrified to turn the final pages. It is one of those stories that will remain in my mind and heart for a long, long time.”
— Matthew Dicks , author of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
"...[a] deeply felt and elegantly expressed tale. Adam’s time on the sub-continent takes on a level of impressionistic weirdness that brings Murakami–The Wind Up Bird Chronicles in particular–to mind. It’s surprisingly resonant, and yes, sensitive, generous and warmhearted."
— Brooklyn Based
"I had to get to the end and all I could think was, 'Our Father who art in Heaven, please don’t let me die before page 239.' I worried about a heart attack, a blood vessel bursting, an airplane engine randomly falling through the sky and crashing down onto the spot where I sat holding At the Bottom of Everything in my hands. As you can see, I’m still here. Thanks to two cups of coffee and a series of tooth-rattling sentences, I made it through to the satisfying end. And I am a better man, a richer reader, for doing so."
— David Abrams , author of Fobbit
"Without being the least bit derivative, “At the Bottom of Everything” is slightly reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s cult classic of 20 years ago, “The Secret History”... it is Adam’s quietly devastating struggles with his own morality and anxiety that steal the book again and again, and mark it as a first-rate literary work."
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch