The Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy

Parents, Lovers, and Other Wayward Deities (A Memoir)

  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781468309263
  • 256 Pages
  • Overlook Books
  • Adult


An Amazon Book of the Month, February 2014

From the author of the cult classic Winkie, an extraordinarily honest, shockingly funny memoir of a man torn between isolation and connection

In shimmering prose that weaves among intimate confessions, deadpan asides, and piercing observations on the fear and turmoil that defined the long decade after 9/11, Clifford Chase tells the stories that have shaped his adulthood.
There are his aging parents, whose disagreements sharpen as their health declines; and his beloved brother, lost tragically to AIDS; and his long-term boyfriend—always present, but always kept at a distance.
There is also the revelatory, joyful music of the B-52s, Chase’s sexual confusion in his twenties, and more recently, the mysterious appearance in his luggage of weird objects from Iran the year his mother died.
In the midst of all this is Chase’s singular voice—incisive, wry, confiding, by turns cool or emotional, always engaging.
The way this book is written—in pitch-perfect fragments—is crucial to Chase’s deeper message: that we experience and remember in short bursts of insight, terror, comedy, and love. As ambitious in its form as it is in its radical candor, The Tooth Fairy is the rare memoir that can truly claim to rethink the genre.


Praise for The Tooth Fairy

Resonant . . . Haunting . . . Tender and sympathetic . . . Chase still feels the pain of losing lovers, his parents and his older brother, but in writing about them here he lovingly caresses their memories . . . Chase builds his searching memoir out of torn-up letters, snippets of conversations, accounts of dreams, quotes from journals and observations from his daily life. The effects are candidconfessional and . . . always original.” The New York Times Book Review

“Chase capably combines these scraps of observation into a clear story while resisting the urge to rationalize and overexploit. In the process, he avoids writing the tidy tales of self-redemption that so many memoirs are. So many memoirs strive to simplify lives. The chief virtue of The Tooth Fairy is how well it complicates them.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

The tension of the pieces of this life feel more like something Anne Carson would do under the same circumstances, if she were, say, a gay man reaching middle age, with a dog and a boyfriend, trying to survive late capitalism and despair. He is elliptical, but his book is not purposeless . . . When I say the fragmented style of The Tooth Fairy is an exercise in aesthetics, it is not to accuse it of being some decorative thing—aesthetics can make us knowable to ourselves, and thus to others, can make something out of one’s old grief and despair that has the feeling of that ancient divine gift, the blessing.” Slate 

“Chase is an appealing narrator of his own life—humble, candid, funny and always interrogating the choices he’s made . . . With his fragmented prose style, Chase has produced a powerful meditation on memory itself.” —Newsday

“With complete candor and insight Cliff maps the phases of his personal evolution throughout The Tooth Fairy, using fragmentary bursts of text, the format, he says, of rawest honesty.” —The Henry Review
I’m wild about The Tooth Fairy, a riveting and deeply moving creation. Clifford Chase transforms sex and grief into exquisitely tuned sentences, whose wit and concision magically neutralize loss. Line after line, he feeds the reader a concentrated opiate of insight, hilarious as stand-up comedy, and as glittering as an imagist poem.” —Wayne Koestenbaum, author of My 1980s and Other Essays

Each sentence stands like a tooth in a mouth, perfect on its own . . . Full of emotional punches.” —HTML Giant
Groundbreaking . . . Touching . . . The grander life portrait emerging from the puzzle pieces is breathtaking and often heartrendingly poignant.” —Booklist 
“Clifford Chase’s memory has sent him a series of telegrams—precise and tender observations that call to mind the ‘I remember’s’ of Joe Brainard. They’re sad and they’re funny, and they tell a brave and moving story of loss, survival, and belated understanding.” —Caleb Crain, author of Necessary Errors

Chase is something of a photographer when it comes to imagery, choosing exactly the right thing to capture and the best words to do so . . . It is Chase’s honesty and sharp observations that make this memoir more than just a successful experiment with form. It is sure to inspire writers to tell their stories in new and imaginative ways.” —Lamba Literary
“Partly a documentary of [Chase’s] life, partly a meditation on living . . . [A] candid and insightful memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Clifford Chase reinvents the memoir—thrillingly—with these stanzas in meditation, excruciation, and exultation. His profound self-scrutiny, aphoristic elegance, lyrical gifts, and cracked hilarity unlock ‘crucial but shrouded’ moments of personal and collective history, and are a tonic. Read this book out loud. Believe in it.” —Lisa Cohen, author of All We Know: Three Lives

Fascinating . . . Artful and dotted with bits of wry humor . . . So many memoirs strive to simplify lives. The chief virtue of The Tooth Fairy is how well it complicates them.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Consummate storyteller Clifford Chase delivers a funny, strange and ultimately heartwarming recollection of a contemporary gay life. With a detached wit reminiscent of David Sedaris, these short linked fragments should make for the perfect book on the go.” —Next 

Any aphorism of praise I could write about The Tooth Fairy would be trumped by your opening to a random page of it right now and reading the first few lines you put your finger on. Like Montaigne, Clifford Chase is an endlessly curious, incisive, poignant chronicler of human nature, especially the one most local to him, his own.” —Matthew Sharpe, author of The Sleeping Father
“In sweeping text as fluid and vivid as thought, Clifford Chase brings all his questions, loves, and losses to life in this wonderful demonstration that, for the self-aware, the funny, painful business of coming-of-age is a never-ending process.” —Kit Reed, author of The Story Until Now