by Kerry Howley
Knopf Publishing Group
A wild, humane, and hilarious meditation on post-privacy America--from the acclaimed author of Thrown
Who are you? You are data about data. You are a map of connections--a culmination of everything you have ever posted, searched, emailed, liked, and followed. In this groundbreaking work of narrative nonfiction, Kerry Howley investigates the curious implications of living in the age of the indelible. Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs tells the true story of intelligence specialist Reality Winner, a lone young woman who stuffs a state secret under her skirt and trusts the wrong people to help. After printing five pages of dangerous information she was never supposed to see, Winner finds herself at the mercy of forces more invasive than she could have possibly imagined.
Following Winner's unlikely journey from rural Texas to a federal courtroom, Howley maps a hidden world, drawing in John Walker Lindh, Lady Gaga, Edward Snowden, a rescue dog named Outlaw Babyface Nelson, and a mother who will do whatever it takes to get her daughter out of jail. Howley's subjects face a challenge new to history: they are imprisoned by their past selves, trapped for as long as the Internet endures. A soap opera set in the deep state, Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs is a free fall into a world where everything is recorded and nothing is sacred, from a singular writer unafraid to ask essential questions about the strangeness of modern life.
"Kerry Howley been scary good at making art. But this one here, it's a gut check, chin check, pancreas check for writers and humans. How the f**k did you make this?" -- Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"I love this book because I can't quite describe what it is. It bristles with the precise kind of strangeness that we live in but cannot name. Howley is one of the very best nonfiction writers working today and she is in peak form here. I'm jealous of her prose." -- Chris Hayes, bestselling author of A Colony in a Nation
"Bottoms Up And The Devil Laughs is the book Joan Didion would have produced if Didion chose to delve into the motivations, circumstances, passions, absurdities and persecutions of 'national security' whistleblowers and other people on the margins of the War on Terror. Howley chronicles a widespread, insidious social derangement, but never for a moment treats her characters as anything other than fully realized human beings... Still, the heart of the book is the story of Reality Winner, and I doubt anyone will ever tell it better than Howley does." -- Spencer Ackerman, author of Reign of Terror
About the Author:
Kerry Howley is a feature writer at New York magazine and the author of Thrown, a New York Times Editors' Choice and pick for best-of-the-year lists in Time, Salon, Slate, and many other venues. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, Best American Sportswriting, The New York Times Magazine, and Harper's. A Lannan Foundation Fellow, she holds an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was a professor at the celebrated Nonfiction Writing Program until joining New York. She lives in Los Angeles.