Ways and Means: A Novel (Hardcover)

Ways and Means: A Novel By Daniel Lefferts Cover Image
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Description


A searing debut novel about a striving finance student, the line between ambition and greed, and the disordered politics of our era

“[An] auspicious debut . . . a wildly entertaining drama of ambition and consequence.” —SAM SACKS, Wall Street Journal

“An absolute riot...Thrilling...Lefferts's wry examination of the societal and economic shifts that led to the once unthinkable hits incredibly close to home.” —CHRIS MURPHY, Vanity Fair

“[A] sexy political thriller.” —CHARLES ARROWSMITH, Washington Post 

Alistair McCabe comes to New York with a plan. Young, handsome, intelligent, and gay, he hopes to escape his Rust Belt poverty and give his mother a better life by pursuing a career in high finance.

But by the spring of 2016, Alistair’s plan has come undone: His fantasy banking job has eluded him, he’s mired in student debt, and in his desperation he’s gone to work for an enigmatic billionaire whose ambitions turn out to be far darker than Alistair could have imagined. By the time Alistair uncovers his employer’s secret, his life is in danger and he’s forced to go on the run.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s paramours, an older couple named Mark and Elijah, must face their own moral and financial dilemmas. Mark, nearing the end of his trust fund, takes a job with his father’s mobile-home empire that forces him to confront the unsavory foundations of his family’s wealth, while Elijah, a failed painter, throws in his lot with an artist-provocateur whose latest project transforms the country’s political chaos into a thing of alluring, amoral beauty.

As the nation hurtles toward a breaking point, Alistair, Mark, and Elijah must band together to save one another and themselves.

Propulsive, exuberant, and profoundly observed, Ways and Means is an indelible, clear-eyed investigation of class and ambition, sex and art, and politics and power in twenty-first century America.

About the Author


Daniel Lefferts was born in upstate New York and now lives in Hudson, New York. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and has taught writing at Columbia and Rutgers. Ways and Means is his first novel.

Praise For…


“[An] auspicious debut . . . Ways and Means grounds its characters in the unsexy practicalities of wealth and acquisition but spins from them a wildly entertaining drama of ambition and consequence . . . Greed, sex, provocation and revenge are all colorfully depicted in Ways and Means . . . [and] is unusual in that it’s a very gay novel that doesn’t make gayness its central identity. [John Lanchester] belongs to a short list of novelists—it includes Adam Haslett, Caleb Crain and Paul Murray, among others—who write convincingly about money. To that small circle we can now add Daniel Lefferts.”
— SAM SACKS, Wall Street Journal

“An absolute riot...Thrilling...Lefferts’s wry examination of the societal and economic shifts that led to the once unthinkable hits incredibly close to home. In Lefferts’s capable hands, [Ways and Means] is an absolute riot.”
— VANITY FAIR, 11 Books We Can’t Stop Thinking About This Month

“[A] sexy political thriller.”
— CHARLES ARROWSMITH, Washington Post

Ways and Means...reaches beyond the swaggering-financier stereotype. Lefferts…carefully renders each character’s relationship with money…[and] Ways and Means reflects how those with the greatest wealth can maneuver with little accountability and what that means for everyone else.”
— BLOOMBERG

“Ambitious and exciting...Lefferts’s nimble sense of scale enables him to convincingly depict the blue-chip firms who rejected Alistair and exploit the housing market, then zoom in for poignant and subtle psychological realism. The results are electrifying.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Starred Review

“An amazing debut novel from a prodigiously gifted young writer. . . . virtuosic storytelling. . . . [a] fascinating, complex, often funny saga of life in our troubled time.”
— NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS

“Taking place in the shadow of the 2016 political upheaval and the disillusionment that follows, Daniel Lefferts’ debut novel puts quintessential millennial striving under the microscope to glorious effect… Alistair McCabe, a gay Rust Belt transplant to NYC, is like so many of us: working for someone shady in order to get out of student debt. But the secrets his billionaire employer is hiding end up being dangerous enough that Alistair himself has to go on the run. His lovers, Mark and Elijah, are struggling with their own jobs and attendant moral compromises.”
— THEM, Most Anticipated of 2024

“What happens when the American Dream fails you almost instantly? Lefferts explores a finance bro who wasn’t while he tackles ambition and drive in a biting expose.”
— DEBUTIFUL, Most Anticipated of 2024

“[A]n astute examination of the complex intersection of money and intimacy...Alistair McCabe, a young gay college student from the Rust Belt, dreams of a career in high finance, a fantasy turned nightmare when he finds himself entangled with an enigmatic billionaire whose nefarious ambition puts Alistair’s life at risk. Lefferts’s debut...traces Alistair’s descent alongside the dissolution of the relationship between his paramours, an artistic couple with their own financial and existential woes.”
— LITERARY HUB, Most Anticipated of 2024

“Compelling . . . In [Ways and Means], the personal, often bodily drama of coming-of-age is inextricable from the inhuman forces of capital.”
— KIRKUS REVIEWS

Ways and Means exists somewhere between realism and wry parody of New York City as it was in the 2010s, with all its randy undergraduates, unhinged financiers, sex parties, and blissfully out-of-touch relatives in the tristate. Lefferts is excellent on real estate, resentment, and reactionary art, but his elegant, observant text is powered not by insider knowledge but by feeling, faith in the work a beautiful sentence can do on you, if you allow.”
— BOMB MAGAZINE

“Lefferts’s writing...carries all the confidence of a prose unruffled by the possibility that the experiences it recounts might prove controversial to the imagined reader.”
— RUMPUS

“Captivating . . . fascinating . . . quietly witty, especially in the dialogue. With its cast of morally gray but profoundly likable characters, this book skewers the worlds of finance and high-profile contemporary art while addressing themes of generational trauma and redemption. . . . Both entertaining and thought-provoking, this book combines the high stakes of a thriller with the deep character studies and vivid descriptions of literary fiction.”
— BOOKBROWSE

"Alistair McCabe, a young gay college student from the Rust Belt, dreams of a career in high finance, a fantasy turned nightmare when he finds himself entangled with an enigmatic billionaire whose nefarious ambition puts Alistair’s life at risk. Lefferts’s debut, an astute examination the complex intersection of money and intimacy, traces Alistair’s descent alongside the dissolution of the relationship between his paramours, an artistic couple with their own financial and existential woes."
— ELECTRIC LITERATURE, 42 Queer Books You Need to Read in 2024

“Alistair McCabe, a young gay college student from the Rust Belt, dreams of a career in high finance, a fantasy turned nightmare when he finds himself entangled with an enigmatic billionaire whose nefarious ambition puts Alistair’s life at risk. Lefferts’s debut, an astute examination [of] the complex intersection of money and intimacy, traces Alistair’s descent alongside the dissolution of the relationship between his paramours, an artistic couple with their own financial and existential woes.”
— ELECTRIC LITERATURE, 65 Queer Books You Need To Read In Summer 2024

“Funny and observant, Ways and Means is a depiction of workers on the brink that anyone can see themselves in.”
— OUR CULTURE

“Deadly serious in ambition, wildly entertaining in execution, Ways and Means is a remarkably accomplished debut that charts the fault lines of class, politics, art, and desire during a period of American crisis. Every line of this gorgeous novel glows with Daniel Lefferts’ intelligence and compassion.”
— ANTHONY MARRA, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury Pictures Presents and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

“A work of enormous wit, humor, and passion that captures life in turbo capitalist America with compassion and grace.”
— GARY SHTEYNGART, New York Times bestselling author of Our Country Friends

Ways and Means is wise, funny, ribald, and suspenseful. Daniel Lefferts moves beautifully through narrative modes, including lavish, obscenely hilarious description, nuanced psychological portraiture, and, when the time is right, propulsive thrillerdom. A love story, a satire, a noir, and a cautionary tale, this novel is a terrific debut.”
— SAM LIPSYTE, author of The Ask and No One Left to Come Looking for You

“Totally absorbing, Ways and Means exhumes and lampoons the repressed erotics at the heart of American capitalism. Lefferts delivers The Great Gatsby for the 21st-century: irreverent, sexy, and sharp. A major event.”
— JESSI JEZEWSKA STEVENS, author of The Exhibition of Persephone Q and The Visitors

“Art, politics, late-stage capitalism, throuples: how is it possible for Ways and Means to cover so much ground, and so effortlessly? Lefferts writes with a satirist’s eye, but never loses his compassion for his characters, or the harrowing world in which they—and we—find ourselves. This is a remarkable debut by a major new talent.”
 
— GRANT GINDER, author of Let's Not Do That Again

Ways and Means is a triumphant debut, a pulsating novel that dives into every crevice of our lives, from high art and higher finance, to the depths of student debt and MAGA politics. Readers will be propelled alongside the quixotic journey of young Alistair McCabe as he attempts to escape each newly unfolding nightmare before it swallows him alive. Captivating, fresh, witty and brilliant, Lefferts is a true, original American voice and this novel is not to be missed.”
— KRISTOPHER JANSMA, author of Why We Came to the City
Product Details
ISBN: 9781419768194
ISBN-10: 1419768190
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 400
Language: English