We are pleased to welcome former Portland (now Brooklyn) resident Alex McElroy reading from their debut novel The Atmospherians, in conversation with Chelsea Bieker, Genevieve Hudson, and Kimberly King Parsons. The Atmospherians follows two best friends—Sasha and Dyson—who start a cult to reform problematic men. Sasha Marcus was once the epitome of contemporary success: an internet sensation, social media darling, and creator of a popular women’s wellness brand. But a confrontation with an online troll has taken a horrifying turn, and now she’s at rock bottom, fortressed in her apartment while men’s rights protestors rage outside. All that once glittered now condemns.
Sasha’s oldest childhood friend, Dyson—a failed actor with a history of body issues—hatches a plan for Sasha to restore her reputation by becoming the face of his new business venture, The Atmosphere: a rehabilitation community for men. Billed as a workshop for job training, it is actually a rigorous program designed to rid men of their toxic masculinity. Sasha reluctantly accepts, but what horrors await her as the resident female leader of a crew of washed up, desperate men? And what exactly does Dyson want? Explosive and wickedly funny, this “Fight Club for the millennial generation” (Mat Johnson, author of Pym) peers straight into the dark heart of wellness and woke-ness, asking: what happens when we become addicted to the performance of ourselves?
McElroy says "The book was inspired by the public reckoning masculinity went through after the publication of Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, the #MeToo movement at large, and the continued conversations around misogynist aggressions and toxic masculinity. Furthermore, I wrote the novel while also coming to terms with my non-binary gender identity. This personal growth informed many of the themes in the book. Though I aimed to write a novel examining whether men could be saved from their masculine conditioning, the book I produced aims for so