A hilarious debut novel about an eclectic group of merchants at a Kansas antique mall who become implicated in the kidnapping of a local beauty pageant star.
The city of Wichita, Kansas, is wracked with panic over the abduction of toddler pageant princess Lindy Bobo. However, the dealers at The Heart of America Antique Mall are too preoccupied by their own neurotic compulsions to take much notice. Postcards, perfume bottles, Barbies, vinyl records, kitschy neon beer signs—they collect and sell it all.
Rather than focus on Lindy, this colorful cast of characters is consumed by another drama: the impending arrival of Mark and Grant from the famed antiques television show Pickin’ Fortunes, who are planning to film an episode at The Heart of America and secretly may be the last best hope of saving the mall from bankruptcy. Yet the mall and the missing beauty queen have more to do with each other than these vendors might think, and before long, the group sets in motion a series of events that lead to surprising revelations about Lindy’s whereabouts. As the mall becomes implicated in her disappearance, will Mark and Grant be scared away from all of the drama or will they arrive in time to save The Heart of America from going under?
Equally comical and suspenseful, Heart of Junk is also a biting commentary on our current Marie Kondo era. It examines why certain objects resonate with us so deeply, rebukes Kondo’s philosophy of wholesale purging, and argues that “junk” can have great value—connecting us not only to our personal pasts but to our shared human history. As author Luke Geddes writes: “A collection was a record of a life lived, maybe not well or happily but at least with attention and passion. It was autobiography made whole.”
Luke Geddes holds a PhD in comparative literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, he now lives Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of the short story collection I am a Magical Teenage Princess and his writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Washington Square Review, The Comics Journal, Electric Literature, and elsewhere.
“Luke Geddes is a master of humor. Heart of Junk deftly explores the loneliness of the human condition through a dazzling spectrum of characters. You will laugh ’til you cry, and cry ’til you laugh. This book is an instant cult classic. Meet your new favorite author.”
—Alissa Nutting, author of Made for Love and Tampa
“This is a sharp and wicked novel, astute in its exploration of the collector’s psyche and the value—both emotional and monetary—of American junk. Luke Geddes puts all of damaged humanity inside a Midwestern antiques mall, and he documents the escalating drama with savage affection.”
—Chris Bachelder, author of National Book Award finalist The Throwback Special
“Luke Geddes slyly transforms our material obsessions into a very funny and surprising page-turner of a novel. I loved getting to know this nutty group of hapless citizens, made possible by Geddes’s shrewd and pitch-perfect writing.”
—Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen
“Luke Geddes has written something truly wonderful with Heart of Junk. His tender portrayal of each uniquely strange character who inhabits the Heart of America Antique Mall is strengthened by such perfect comedic timing. As Geddes digs deeper and deeper into a world most people would ignore, he finds real treasure, something beautiful and life-affirming.”
—Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang and Nothing to See Here
"Geddes’s debut is a surreal, hilarious, but humane reckoning with America today: its consumerism, its culture, its nostalgia, its crap. A must-read for the hoarder in us all."
—Jen Beagin, author of Pretend I'm Dead and Vacuum in the Dark
“[A] rambunctious, oddly touching debut…[Geddes] offers even his most misguided characters the opportunity to bumble towards redemption. This one’s a quirky treat for fans of flyover state humor.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Hilarious and poignant, inviting belly laughs and thoughtful, genuinely moving introspection on how what we collect comes to define us.”
—Booklist (starred review)