The Great American Novel – The Harvard Lampoon

Down + Out #

| Issue Editor: ECM '15 | Art Editor: ECM '15

The Great American Novel

  EIG '15 , Art: REZ '16

REZ great american novelHey, Nicole. Know it’s been a few years, but I’ve been feeling down lately and could use some feedback on my novel. It’s the only thing getting me through the day! here is the first chapter.


One night while riding the Q, Ethan sits next to a girl reading Infinite Jest: Abridged. He asks what page she’s on. “We need to have sex right now,” she says. They go back to her place: it’s built entirely of fire escapes.

They stare at a constellation that Ethan says is scorpio. “My name is Nicole, by the way,” she says. “Oh, that’s so funny,” Ethan says, “my girlfriend’s name is Nicole.”

“Ex-girlfriend, that is,” he says, “she broke up with me in the middle of Blackwater Xanyon.” Nicole starts to cry, “that’s a really tough raid.” Ethan looks into her eyes, “I told her if she broke up with me one more time, I would quit the fucking guild.”

“My live-in therapist says there’s nothing wrong with me, medically speaking,” Ethan says, “but I know I’m depressed.” She rubs his arm the way girls do. “That’s why I do so many drugs, for the dopamine.” They offer each other cigarettes. Both say yes.

He tells her about his mother’s death and some of the books he’s been reading. “I can’t believe I thought you were such a loser all these years,” she says, “but you’re making, what, three hundred k and writing a novel?”

Reaching for more cigarettes, he makes sure to brush his arm against hers. She says, “sorry,” and he says, “don’t be.”

“Sorry if this is a little forward,” she says, “but I think I love you.” He shrugs, “I don’t think I even know what ‘love’ means.” The moonlight falls across her face in a way that reminds him of the beauty of all things. He yawns and rests his head in her lap, asking her to play with his hair until he falls asleep.