The New Me: A Novel by Halle ButlerThe New Me: A Novel by Halle Butler

The New Me: A Novel

byHalle Butler

Paperback | March 5, 2019

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"A dark comedy of female rage" (Catherine Lacey) and a biting satire of life in the American workforce from a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and Granta Best Young American Novelist
“Masterfully cringe-inducing. . . [makes] the reader squirm and laugh out loud simultaneously.” —Chicago Tribune

I'm still trying to make the dream possible: still might finish my cleaning project, still might sign up for that yoga class, still might, still might. I step into the shower and almost faint, an image of taking the day by the throat and bashing its head against the wall floating in my mind.

Thirty-year-old Millie just can't pull it together. She spends her days working a thankless temp job and her nights alone in her apartment, fixating on all the ways she might change her situation--her job, her attitude, her appearance, her life. Then she watches TV until she falls asleep, and the cycle begins again.

When the possibility of a full-time job offer arises, it seems to bring the better life she's envisioning within reach. But with it also comes the paralyzing realization, lurking just beneath the surface, of how hollow that vision has become.
Halle Butler is the author of Jillian. She has been named a National Book Award Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree and a Granta Best Young American Novelist.
Title:The New Me: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 7.71 × 5 × 0.52 inPublished:March 5, 2019Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143133608

ISBN - 13:9780143133605

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Read from the Book

 chapter 1   It’s winter in Chicago. In the windowless back offices of a designer furniture showroom, women stand in a circle, stuffed into ill‑fitting black jeans, gray jeans, olive jeans, the ass cloth sagging one inch, two, below where the cheeks meet. They don’t notice this on themselves, but they notice it on each other. They wear cheap suede ankle boots and incomprehensible furry vests that flap against them as they talk, pushing their voices out an octave too high, lotioned, soft, gummy hands gestur‑ ing wildly. One of them wears a topknot, another checks her pedometer. Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” plays in the background. They are allowed to choose their own music. They shift between subjects with a rapid ease, words spilling out of their mouths. One of them is explaining something from her real, nonwork life, something about returning something she bought online—the frustration and indignity of the experience.The one in the topknot and a tunic looks down and laughs. “Oh my god you guys look at me I’m such a hipster.” Another smiles, barely containing her disgust, and says “No, you look cute” with her words and “Oh my god shut the fuck up” with her eyes. One of them leans over her immersion‑blended meal, laughs with strain, and says, referring to a chandelier on the showroom floor, “Where I come from you can get a house for twenty thousand.” A glob of green puree hangs from the fuzz on her mohair sweater, right by the boob. No one responds. They start talking about a woman who works down the hall. She used to work here, and they all hate her. Appar‑ ently she really likes chrome and has no friends. One of them slides an open catalog across the table and says, “Isn’t that so trashy?” It’s a chrome coffee table, indistinguishable, to me, from the rest of the wares. The whole scene is a bitter cliché, the expectations and ego barely hidden behind the flimsy presentation of friend‑ liness. My pits are slick, and my face smells like a bagel. I wonder if I should chime in, tell them that I also think the table sucks, but the words catch in my throat. Impossible to join in, even if I wanted to, which I don’t, not really. I’m the new temp, ten days into my assignment here. I’ve been getting better temp assignments lately, and my rep writes to tell me things like “I’m so excited for you, this one has possibility for temp to perm,” but so far perm hasn’t come. I wonder how I would have to behave, how many changes I would have to make, to tip myself over the edge into this endless abyss of perm.     I walk home in the dark, in the snow. My tights sagging. A hole in the side of my shoe. I open my dark apartment and turn on all the lights, like there might be someone who needs to use a room I’m not in. Like I’m expecting company. Like I still share my life. I light a cigarette and open my laptop. I turn on an epi‑ sode of Forensic Files, my favorite of the serialized murder documentaries, to comfort myself. There’s someone in the house! I wish.

Editorial Reviews

"In just under two hundred pages, Halle Butler made me laugh and cry enough times to feel completely reborn."  —The Paris Review   “If you loved My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, don’t miss this sardonic and grimly relatable new book from Halle Butler.” –Bustle "Masterfully cringe-inducing and unsparingly critical, The New Me extends Butler’s interrogation of those subjects, making the reader squirm and laugh out loud simultaneously . . . Ingenious . . . [Butler's] wit and insight keep the pages turning." —The Chicago Tribune"[The New Me] dives deep into the idea of millennial burnout. . . Many readers will identify with Butler's psychologically astute yet somewhat hopeless inner monologue." –Mind Body Green   “Anyone who has ever felt like their life is going nowhere—and to make it worse, going nowhere in an achingly slow manner—will recognize themselves in Halle Butler's new novel.” –Nylon “A skewering of the 21st-century American dream of self-betterment. Butler has already proven herself a master of writing about work and its discontents.”  —The Millions  "Millie is just the kind of misanthropic, hopeful/doomed thirty-year-old we’ve all known, and/or been, and/or loved, and/or hated. Butler is an essential contemporary voice.”  —LitHub"A brilliant excoriation of the marketers telling us that life offers an unending parade of do-overs. Butler nails the unspoken hierarchies of contemporary office life in this wry and utterly terrifying work." —Vulture   "Few authors capture the acidic angst of downtrodden millennials like Butler, whose heroines, trapped in precarious and soulless work, take comfort in consumption, in cynicism, in ill-fated self-improvement."  —Huffington Post"In The New Me by Halle Butler, Millie goes from her temp job to her home and back again, repeating an unfulfilling cycle every day. The New Me is a sharp, darkly comedic examination of capitalism, millennial life, and how to escape it all."—Bitch Media Wake up, look in the mirror, swear it will all be different today. Sound familiar? Here's that feeling in novel form: Meet Millie, a 30-year-old flailing around in dissatisfaction. A job offer seems to promise reinvention—but, sadly, easy transformations are for caterpillars, not lonely, anxiety-ridden women."—Elle “Even in the midst of Millie’s strained hopefulness, Butler’s incisive prose cuts sharp. Millie is, like us all, nominally an adult in a world that finds little dignity in adulthood.” —Chicago Review of Books“[The New Me] brilliantly captures the anxiety of the era . . . It’s depressing and hilarious, cynical and side-splitting. Butler’s observations of character, dialogue, and social class are barbed and relatable.” —Newcity Lit “The kind of humor found in The New Me is so sharp it cuts.” —Popsugar"This quick-paced novel . . . make[s] you feel things you'd have to wait hundreds of pages to experience in a much longer epic. Meet Millie, who at 30 is keen on reinventing herself. The answer, the millennial believes, may come in the form of a full-time job, but of course, capitalism, feminism and general laugh-out-loud angst all interfere." —amNewYork “A bouncy, profane, highly addictive novel about work, female friendship, and other alienations. Halle Butler’s insane talent shimmers on every page of this deadpan misanthrope’s ode. A must-read!”  —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn “The New Me renders contemporary American life in such vivid, stinging color that certain sentences are liable to give the reader a paper cut. But you’ll want to keep on reading anyway. Halle Butler is terrific, and I loved this book.”  —Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble “A dark comedy of female rage. Halle Butler is a first-rate satirist of the horror show being sold to us as Modern Femininity. She is Thomas Bernhard in a bad mood, showing us the futility of betterment in an increasingly paranoid era of self-improvement. Hilarious.”  —Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Answers   “A bleak and brutal book that exposes a nearly unbearable futility to life in the workforce, not to mention life outside it. Butler’s vision is funny and raw and dark—a cautionary tale, hilarious and intimate, against growing up and making do.”  —Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet “Halle Butler has a way of looking at our twenty-first-century neoliberalist condition that simultaneously exposes its brutality and renders that same brutality absurd, hilarious, fizzy with humor.  She's an incisive, curmudgeonly bard of the uniquely precarious times we live in, and it is crucial that you read her immediately.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine "A sharp and observant writer, who takes to task the tragicomedy of modern capitalism . . . Butler has created a disquieting heroine with an indelible voice." —Publishers Weekly