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Smedley’s Secret Guide to World Literature

PFP | 2016 | 

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Why is everyone angry with Jonathan? Suspended from school a week before Memorial Day, the savvy and cyber-sexed fifteen-year old is charged by his poet-father to write a history of literature in the age of Twitter. Jonathan absconds to Manhattan to care for his high-living godfather, who recently had a stroke, but the siren song of the city keeps him distracted. When he meets the worldly Beatriz, his life threatens to take a sharp turn. Speaking directly to the obsessions of our present, Smedley’s Secret Guide reminds us that no one knows how anything will turn out until it happens. As someone once said, our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately.

In Melnyczuk’s wonderful new novel, Jonathan Wainwright immediately charms the reader with his brilliant literary observations and insights, but what really steals the heart is that it comes on a wave of adolescent angst we all recognize–hormones and family problems and pop culture fuel this difficult journey while great and sometimes forgotten literary voices educate and shine light on his young and vulnerable heart. At one point he muses: the things they don’t teach you in school would fill a book. And so they do: this book.

Jiill McCorkle

In this enchanting, very funny journey, Melnyczuk brings his extraordinary writing skills and his visionary understanding of human nature to bear on a story which is as hilarious as it is high-spirited. In the tradition of  Stephen Dedalus, Holden Caulfield and Harry Potter, this story is a beguiling demonstration of what rebellion can achieve. Read it!

Susan Cheever


I’m lucky to be alive. Standing in the principal’s office in Cambridge last week, listening to the charges against me, I could feel Dad’s blood pressure blow through the roof. This was not a good moment to be tipping the family boat. Mainly because it had already capsized. The ever-clueless Dr. Post droned on about my “crimes against humanity.” I wanted to ask if…