Last Acts: A Novel
Named a MOST ANTICIPATED book of 2024 by Nylon and The Millions
Following a near-death experience, an entrepreneurial father-and-son duo wreak havoc and fend off bankruptcy in this unflinching portrayal of the absurdities of American life.
“Hilarious, exceptional.” —Dan Chaon, The New York Times Book Review • “Honest, highwire, virtuosic writing that summons up the world with all its charms and hazards.” —George Saunders
Even though his firearms store is failing, things are looking up for David Rizzo. His son, Nick, has just recovered after a near-fatal overdose, which means one thing: Rizzo can use Nick’s resurrection to create the most compelling television commercial for a gun emporium that the world has ever seen. After all, this is America, Rizzo tells himself. Surely anything is possible. But the relationship between father and son is fragile, mired in mutual disappointment. And when the pair embarks on their scheme to avoid bankruptcy, a high stakes crash of hijinks, hope, and disaster ensues.
Featuring a cast of unforgettable characters, this razor-sharp social satire lays bare both the gun and opioid crises. Fans of Don DeLillo and Stephen Markley will be thrilled by this smart, inventive debut.
Praise for Last Acts: A Novel
"A magnificent sentence writer, with a gift for pulling poetry out of an American vernacular that recalls the early work of George Saunders… While many novelists are struggling to figure out how best to address the state of the nation — centerless, ridiculous and terrifying, doomed yet trivial, dire yet unheroic — Sammartino seems to have cracked the code.”—Dan Chaon, The New York Times Book Review
“A wholly American novel about salvation.”—Matthew Minicucci, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Raucous, irreverent... Last Acts pays tribute to gallows humorists like Sam Lipsyte, Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Tropper, and Jonathan Franzen."—Max Gray, Chicago Review of Books
"The events of this satirical début novel are catalyzed by a nearly fatal opioid overdose suffered by the estranged son of a gun-store proprietor. Together, the father and son embark on a journey across the Arizona desert.”–The New Yorker
"There is so much grim humor in Sammartino's debut novel, such a keen eye for the details of rage and heartbreak, such empathy for humiliation, that we enjoy the ride, wincing and laughing along the way... In Rizzo, we have a uniquely contemporary loser for the ages."—Claude Peck, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"What a taut, energetic, tender, and wholly original debut novel Alexander Sammartino has written. He knows something deep about the dark heart of America that somehow doesn’t stop him from writing about it with genuine, goofy love."—George Saunders, author of Liberation Day
"Sammartino’s promising debut offers keen insights into gun violence, drug addiction, and capitalism along with a skewering satire of social media... A sobering tale full of heart.”—Booklist
"Acerbic... [Last Acts] satisfies on multiple levels."—Publisher's Weekly
"Last Acts announces a brilliant new voice. Sammartino is precise, funny and will break your heart all at once. Not to be missed."—Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Chain-Gang All-Stars
"It's hard to believe Last Acts is a first novel. Sammartino's brilliance and originality shine out from every page of this masterful debut."—Jenny Offill, author of Weather
"An astonishing baller of a book so pitch perfect in voice (Tony Soprano meets Samuel Beckett) I predict it'll be the sleeper hit of the year... Yes it's a send up of American masculinity circling the drain. Or is it? This funny as hell tale moved me to the core. Unputdownable."—Mary Karr, author of Lit and Tropic of Squalor
"A sad, hilarious father-son redemption story that touches every American third rail: guns, drugs, religion... Spot-on about the dark societal carnival we’re all doing our best to survive.”—Jonathan Dee, author of Sugar Street
"Last Acts is an astonishingly strong debut, big hearted and hilarious... Rizzo is a singular and great American character: a tender-but-obtuse father, a confidence man with no confidence, a charismatic loser with a voice you can’t help but love."—Dana Spiotta, author of Wayward