Parnucklian for Chocolate

Josiah’s mother was impregnated with him during an alien abduction in her freshman year of college by the Keymaster of Gozer, a high-ranking official of the planet Parnuckle. Parnucklians, Josiah’s mother explained to him often, eat nothing but chocolate, and so too, being part-Parnucklian, would Josiah.


Three weeks before his sixteenth birthday, Josiah is allowed to leave the group home he has been living in for two years and move back in with his mother, who is about to marry Johnson Davis. When Josiah, his mother, Johnson Davis, and Johnson Davis’s daughter Bree Davis – a prematurely mature girl with her own history of parental betrayal – attempt to live together as an all – American nuclear family, the mythology underpinning all their lives comes chaotically and absurdly unspooled.


This startling, stylish, hilarious debut novel explores what happens when we realize how crazy our parents are, and how crazy we were to ever believe them. In Parnucklian for Chocolate, B.H. James has made recognizable and relatable the alien lurking at the heart of so much family life.


Praise for Parnucklian for Chocolate:


Parnucklian for Chocolate is a hilarious, ingeniously absurd coming-of-age tale. James’s sentences are delightfully self-conscious and playful, clever but not too clever and entirely original. His characters are often foolish, even pathetic, but they nevertheless manage to deliver a powerful message: that the power of the imagination is the only thing capable of saving lives.”—Amy Hassinger, author of The Priest’s Madonna and Nina: Adolescence


“Like Chauncey Gardiner in Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There, Josiah, the teenage protagonist in B.H. James’ fantastically quirky debut novel, Parnucklian for Chocolate, is a bit of a blank slate. Raised and home-schooled by a pathological mother who tells him his father’s an alien from the planet Parnuckle, Josiah bewilderedly bumbles through psych wards, group homes, and the sexual minefields of contemporary teenagerhood with a jejune artlessness that is simultaneously disturbing and heart-rending. In hypnotically rolling prose skewered throughout with sharp wit and details, James slyly unveils Josiah’s alien and alienated perspective as a wide-eyed mirror to the minor horrors underlying suburban surfaces, a social anthropologist to the kitschy absurdities of contemporary pop culture, and an arbiter for the delusional, science-fictive nature of ‘home’ and ‘family.'”—Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year


B.H. James

Publication Date: March 1, 2013

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-790-1

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NewPages reviews Parnucklian for Chocolate

Courtney McDermott from NewPages comments on B.H. James' "inventive" first novel, Parnucklian for Chocolate.- "In stark, self-conscious language, the author navigates parenting, psychiatric facilities, and what it means to not […]

Booklist reviews Parnucklian For Chocolate

B.H. James' Parnucklian For Chocolate is featured in the latest issue of Booklist.- "A classic naïf, Josiah is reminiscent of Chauncey Gardner in Jerzy Kozinski’s satirical novella, Being There (1970). […]
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