The Misshapes: Coming for Your Ereader

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I cowrote an awesome book with Stu Sherman under a pseudonym, “Alex Flynn,” called The Misshapes for Polis Books which is available for your ereader of choice on Tuesday April 29th. It is the first in a trilogy!

It is a book about teenage superheroes with powers that suck. Our hero, Sarah, is trying to get into the Hero Academy of her dreams … but is she good enough? I feel like it’s a mix of Rushmore, Gilmore Girls, and The Tick. It’s funny and it’s a YA book and it’s the first in a trilogy. I love Sarah and all the Misshapes and I can promise that you’ll fall in love with Sarah’s crush Freedom Boy (the greatest Hero of all, who takes her on a flying date) and Sarah’s badass brother Johnny, who can turn water into alcohol (which is kind of a chronic illness if you think about it too hard) and makes handmade red t-shirts that say “this is not a red shirt.” The results should be weird and funny, I think.


We have an official, single-serving website over here at The Misshapes where you can check out the first couple of chapters and order it in a variety of places.

Say hi on Goodreads.

Follow us on Facebook and you can win a t-shirt for being casually brilliant, which you are!

If you’re in New York, you can come to our book release party on Wednesday, April 30th at Housing Works with so many killer readers and you can also win a t-shirt.

Here are links to its Amazon page, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo!

Feel free to share, read, and let the world know! Any bit helps and its super appreciated. And if you don’t have an ereader, don’t worry…

You are the best,

Elisabeth (ie, one half of ALEX FLYNN)

Fun News About a Book You Can Read!


I’m excited to announce that Polis Books, a new ebook venture headed up by the estimable Jason Pinter, will be publishing THE MISSHAPES, the first in a series written by Alex Flynn*. It’ll be available for all ereaders come the holiday season.

It's the first in a new fantasy series about a teenage girl living in a town where superheroes are commonplace, already haunted by her lineage as the daughter of an infamous supervillain, and branded an outcast, or Misshape, a moniker given to those whose powers are considered third-rate, and must determine her own destiny when a malevolent force threatens everything she holds dear. Or: it’s a new MG/YA series about teenage superheroes with shitty powers living in a weird parallel western Massachusetts, getting into punk rock, hating the man, and it’s really influenced by Flynn’s love of Gilmore Girls, Rushmore, and The Tick.

More to come, especially about Misshapes Internet Presence. There may be a Pinterest page, so far.

*Alex Flynn is an ex-CIA agent who divides his time between Los Angeles and an island in Maine. Or, perhaps, a pseudonym for me + Stu Sherman. I’ll never tell! Art by Georg Pedersen. Also: Alex Flynn totally wants to literarily party with you, FYI.

The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?
— LOL: James Salter, in a pretty self-congratulatory and gorgeously correct paragraph in the very beautiful Light Years.


I have read some books! Many books, in fact. Let’s go through some of them quickly.

I do not know if Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements is good or not, since I listened to the audiobook and it was read by a stentorian older man (when you needed John Slattery from Mad Men) who tended to lapse into all the voices of the female characters in a manner that suggested a Kid in the Hall dressing up as a woman. This meant that it sounded like the narrator was making fun of every woman in the book, and so I wasn’t able to enjoy it the way it was meant, I suspect, but it’s still pretty obvious that Shipstead is a very good writer with a winning voice and a talent for sentences.

The audiobook is a weird sort of reckoning for books. Women make better audiobook readers; Laura Lippman books read by the amazing Linda Emond really work for me, for example.

Last month I went to a Q&A in Albany by Denis Johnson, which was awesome. He talked about his new book: made some jokes about being “Graham Greene,” said it was set in Uganda. He talked about growing up in Japan (he was an army brat) and how he was part of a “bad boys club” in elementary school where they said they’d protect kids if they gave them their lunch money or something, and how seeing Moby Dick, the Gregory Peck version, in the theatre knocked him on his ass and his first short story was called “The Whale” and was a straight ripoff. I expected him to be scary and intimidating, and he was a joker with a great smile, the sort of smile that you knew he used a lot to get out of trouble in his reckless youth. It carved deep parentheses into his face. You could believe in that smile. (Oh, god, I just had a thought: druggy Jesus’ Son Denis Johnson = Freaks and Geeks’ Daniel Desarrio. WHOA.) I read Train Dreams. It was good, but I really love Denis Johnson’s book of journalism, Seek, where he mostly goes to war zones because “that’s where I could go and get my foot in the door.” One essay is about waiting to meet Charles Taylor.

After a year or so of lugging it around, I finally read Moby Dick! That book is weird, long, homoerotic, hilarious, totally boring with whale minuta that isn’t even factually accurate, and filled with thrills and insights that will give you chills. I want to have it on my bedside table and read a bit of it every day like it’s The Bible. It’s a masterpiece. I love you, Herman Melville, and I want to disappear inside that book. I may go to Melville’s house this weekend, in fact.

The last book I read recently that got me in the heart was Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. You HAVE to read this book. It’s amazing. It has real insights about the human experience and human character; it’s a fabulous tribute to the glory of New York City. The white horse, Athansor, is a creature I wish I could meet. I really want to thrust this book out to everyone I know and make them read it. I have not felt this passionate or evangelical about a book in awhile. So it was kind of crazy reading this back to back with Moby Dick, which is also fabulous. READ IT. SO GOOD. (Winter’s Tale will be a movie come next year -probably Oscar bait - and you should probably read it NOW so the images in your head are YOUR images, not movie images.)

I am currently slogging my way through Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie and it is taking forever, he is a bore in this case. Can you believe it? I wish he didn’t write it in the third person, it just feels so disingenuous.

Surprisingly, I am less sure than this guy on Slate that independent bookstores are killing literacy.


A gentleman named Farhad Manjoo just posted a proudly contrarian article on Slate explaining why independent bookstores are not only irrelevent but maybe even harmful. I work at an independent bookstore, so that’s an argument I’d be very very curious to see made well. Honestly, I know the failings of small booksellers as well as anyone, and it’d be good to see them articulated. But that’s not what this essay was. Let’s look at it. All of it. In detail.

I’ll be interjecting my thoughts into the text of the essay itself. I know that’s a pretty ungenerous way to go about it, but as you’ll see, Mr. Manjoo is kind of an asshat, so I’m not feeling generous.

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I liked this response. The Slate piece was infuriating and contrarian, of course, for the sake of hits and talking. Ugh.

In my experience, bookstores are such a wonderful, crucial hub of community in a neighborhood. Even when it’s the boonies and your only option is Barnes and Noble. There’s still a sense of discovery to the place. Secondly, who would trust an online review of something, if that’s the only thing available? You really don’t want people’s taste to be reduced to algorithms and other people’s slipshod, unedited opinions with a lack of rhetorical rigor.

For example, I did time approving and rolling through Tripadvisor reviews, and it’s painfully obvious that somebody has to care enough about their experience with whatever to “community review” something, and that biases become very, very clear when you’re dealing with online community reviews (from Yelp to Amazon), and who knows if that actually results in the truth.

My favorite one was an epic tale of a woman who went to an all-inclusive resort for her son’s wedding, her ipod was stolen at some point, and she went to ask for help and stayed in the lobby, announcing the theft every 15 minutes. She ends this story by talking about how she made a fuss and then her hungover-from-his-bachelor party son disinvited her to the wedding. Obviously, there’s a lot of subtext here, and what that has to do with the experience that the resort supplies… well, that’s different. Was it the resort that sucked? Or was the lady crazy? And what was her relationship with her one and only son? He disinvited her from his destination wedding! Clearly, it could’ve gone both ways. And frankly, that’s not fair to the resort, in this case.