A previously unpublished novel of the reflections of a deeply scarred and reclusive woman, from the cult icon Katherine Dunn, the author of Geek Love.
Sally Gunnar has withdrawn from the world.
She spends her days alone at home, reading drugstore mysteries, polishing the doorknobs, waxing the floors. Her only companions are a vase of goldfish, a garden toad, and the door-to-door salesman who sells her cleaning supplies once a month. She broods over her deepest regrets: her blighted romances with self-important men, her lifelong struggle to feel at home in her own body, and her wayward early twenties, when she was a fish out of water among a group of eccentric, privileged young people at a liberal arts college. There was Sam, an unabashed collector of other people’s stories; Carlotta, a troubled free spirit; and Rennel, a self-obsessed philosophy student. Self-deprecating and sardonic, Sally recounts their misadventures, up to the tragedy that tore them apart.
Colorful, crass, and profound, Toad is Katherine Dunn’s ode to her time as a student at Reed College in the late 1960s. It is filled with the same mordant observations about the darkest aspects of human nature that made Geek Love a cult classic and Dunn a misfit hero. Daring and bizarre, Toad demonstrates her genius for black humor and her ecstatic celebration of the grotesque. Fifty-some years after it was written, Toad is a timely story about the ravages of womanhood and a powerful addition to the canon of feminist fiction.