As many of his contemporaries in both fiction and nonfiction have attempted to unfurl the intermingled roots and expressions of “toxic masculinity,” Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School stands apart. At its core, the novel examines how white men turn emotion (often, rage) into language. Adam, who readers met as a poet in Lerner’s first novel, is reintroduced as a younger man, a Kansas high school debate state champion. Through Adam, his therapist parents and a school outcast, Lerner analyzes male fury and how rhetoric can help it metastasize.
Buy now: The Topeka School