Tetched is an offbeat coming-of-age novel written in an edgy, minimalist style. In it, a biracial narrator tells a story of growing up in rural America and later escaping to a new life in a city.
Early on, the boy witnesses his father's struggles with idealism, alcoholism and a faltering art career. The boy's mother tries to comfort him with Confucian wisdom learned during her childhood in China, but her statements do little to further his understanding. Helpless siblings, quirky neighbors and rigid schoolteachers only deepen the situation. Undaunted, the boy reports on the wackiness around him with clarity, grace and humor.
As the narrator leaves his childhood home for college, he travels (mostly by thumb) in search of companionship, but finds nothing that lasts. Eventually, he settles in a city and begins to build a life.
But his early troubles stay with him, causing his own obsessive/compulsive behavior. After a series of frustrating, half-comic encounters, he meets Ms. Right and plans to fashion an enduring relationship with her.
In spare, sharp prose measured into vivid scenes, Rutkowski evokes the internal conflicts that accompany a difficult childhood and its unpredictable, often absurd aftermath.
Reviews and Accolades
"...one of the most original writers in America today...the world will
look different to you. "
"Thaddeus Rutkowski writes with wit, poignancy, irony, sensuality, spareness
"What Thaddeus Rutkowski shares with the reader comes from a country
not far from the land of Mary Gaitskill; yet his voice is like none other.
It's a man's voice, both profound and crazed, arising from beginnings
so brutal they make a razor strap seem easy to endure."
"Rutkowski evokes skillfully the internal conflicts that accompany a
thorny childhood and its volatile, often absurd aftermath."
"He might be one of the more singular writers on the scene today.a gifted
performer of both his prose and his poems, he has a consistent and recognizable
voice.Rutkowski has, like Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist, achieved
command of his style and successfully navigated the shoals of autobiographical
"A vibrant story of self- discovery and learning what it means to become
a well-adjusted adult."
"Rutkowski's novel has the depth and complexity required to engage the
reader utterly in a seamless, forward-moving narrative. His paragraphs
are written like film script scenes, with implied fade-in and fade-out,
which are in turn composed of sentences that are tiny, no-frills portraits.
There are moments of hilarity and beauty throughout the book, bright glimmers
of the underside of bleak despair."
".one of the funniest, and most disconcerting, novels I've read in a
long time. Rutkowski is brilliant at creating absurd but somehow believable
"Reading Rutkowski is like opening a matrioshka doll, playing with the
parts, then putting her back together.What makes TETCHED remarkable to
me is the emotionally cool tone of the "fractals" of text. It is not cool-for-coolness'-sake.
The unsafe terrain of home is inherently charged, and could become melodramatic
in the telling. But the language here has an organic humor akin to the
self-experimentation of its narrator, more curiosity than wit, more let's-see-what-happens
than let-me-tell-you-what-happened. Instead of hearing a confession, we
get to experience the snapshots of memory from a simultaneously detached
and internal place.
About the Author
Thaddeus Rutkowski grew up in central Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Cornell University and The Johns Hopkins University. His first novel, Roughhouse (Kaya Press), was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award.
His work has been anthologized in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images and The Naughty Bits: Reviews from Nerve.com. His writing has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Artful Dodge, CutBank, Fiction, Global City Review, The Laurel Review, Pleiades and The New York Times.
He has taught at the Asian American Writers' Workshop, the Hudson Valley
Writers' Center, Pace University and the Writer's Voice, and has been
a resident at Yaddo, MacDowell and other colonies. He has won the weekly
poetry slam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and was selected to read in the
New York Poets Live festival at the former home of East German president
Erich Honecker in Berlin.