The Impediments to Joy

The Impediments to Joy is a mock-epic tale of love wrapped in a coming-of-age story, garnished with philosophy and fart jokes. It is a portrait of adolescence taken on its own terms, yet tempered with adult irony.

Fifteen-year-old Daniel Kenning falls in love with his Homecoming date after fingering her on the floor of his friend’s bedroom. A naïve poet fraught with insecurities, Daniel decides to win her heart by writing a virtuoso sonnet cycle about their night together. What follows is a teenage comedy of errors: Infinite Jest meets a high school production of Romeo and Juliet in which our star-cross’d lover keeps falling off the balcony…

As Daniel struggles to overcome his romanticism, readers are drawn into the world of his precocious friends—flipping through the “Blue Book,” their collective journal full of drug-muddled drawings; taking part in their role-playing sessions and play rehearsals; and tripping out on bottles of Vick’s Formula 44. Readers even make decisions on Daniel’s behalf in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel-within-a-novel, and slip into a Romeo and Juliet/Gulf War dream sequence as the narration segues briefly into comic book format.

Despite its larger-than-life proportions, Daniel’s story is universal: it explores how our early failures on the path from innocence to experience make us who we are and define who we wish to become.

Excerpts of The Impediments to Joy have appeared in the London-based literary journal PEN International and in Contrary, which was recently voted one of Writer’s Digest’s “Top 50 Online Literary Magazines.”