Set in the 1980's, Dirty One follows a pack of adolescent characters who live in the acid-drenched, suburban town known as Leominster, Massachusetts—the plastics capital of America, as well as the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed. In the story, "From Kissing," a sixth-grader named Butch has his first homosexual tongue kiss during a monster truck show and, after a bout of the flu, he is convinced he has somehow contracted AIDS. With "Curls and Curls," nine-year-old Lee hates his kinky, brown head of hair and is seemingly possessed with magic, casting spells to unfurl his evil tresses. In "A Snow Day," eleven-year-old Cassidy longs to be the next mega-watt, teen pop star, but is forced to deal with her crazy classmates, her gay father, and her dog that continually vomits in the driveway. "Do It" follows a tween named Denise as she seeks her first sexual experience with a boyfriend who can never remain erect. Denise strives for high school greatness while her gay best friend is crowned king of all local paper routes. These selections join five more, constructing the remarkable world of Dirty One.
"Dirty One is a searing, single-sitting read. Michael Graves employs a masterfully minimalist prose style that gives each of these stories the razor-sharp edge of brutal, unapologetic poetry."
—Christopher Rice, New York Times Best-selling author of The Moonlit Earth
"Dirty One is wild, heartbroken, funny, and fresh. Michael Graves writes like the heir to George Saunders and A.M. Homes, but he breaks them down, turns them inside out, and makes them all his own."
—Paul Lisicky, author of Lawn Boy, Famous Builder, and The Burning House
"Dirty One has all the snap and crackle of pop culture, but with the dark wisdom of something much deeper. With a voice both glossy and gritty, both sissified and sharp as steel, Michael Graves sounds like no one but himself."
—Michael Lowenthal, author of The Same Embrace, Avoidance, and Charity Girl
"The beauty of Michael Graves' Dirty One is an American beauty, one where the discarded, the marginalized, and the rejected are the most important things—where the Dirty One is, when we look at him honestly, through Graves' clear and clearing prose, beneath all those curls and curls, the Handsome One."
—Brian Bouldrey, author of Love, the Magician and Honorable Bandit: A Walk Across Corsica