Helen DeWitt


His feeling at the time was that the guy who had cleaned up after Hurricane Edna had probably been a completely different kind of guy. The kind of guy who goes out, buys a magazine, takes the magazine home, opens the magazine, looks at the tits of the month, jerks off, closes the magazine, and goes out and sells vacuum cleaners.

This could destroy your reputation.*

Sometimes he would lie there for fifteen minutes worrying about the roll-down blind and twiddling and he would think of the guy and he would think This has got to stop, I’m going to turn over a new leaf. How could he lie there for fifteen minutes worrying about the Goddamn roll-down fucking blind? It was disgusting. So he’d get out the magazine and turn to a pair of tits backed by Miss April and get on with the show. And go out and try to move some product.

You might want to publish under another name.**

Which just goes to show how blinkered we can be by our preconceptions. Because little though he knew it, it was the hours he spent trying to sell vacuum cleaners that were the waste of time, something he would remember with shame and self-loathing for the rest of his life. His well-meant efforts to develop an efficient masturbatory program, likewise, were completely misconceived.


* Senior literary editor ** Senior literary agent *** Mary DeWitt Griffin (the author's mother)

lr cover

Lightning Rods Korean cover

not so much “a book with jokes in it” as that rarer thing, the laughing-so-hard-other-people-on-the-subway-are-starting-to-wonder-if-you-require-psychiatric-attention book.....
Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions

DeWitt’s wickedly smart satire deserves to be a classic.
Rhonda Lieberman, Bookforum

The basic premise for “Lightning Rods” is so audacious that it might be hard to get past its general conceit, but its true brilliance lies in DeWitt’s careful deployment of language so common that we no longer see it. As any million-dollar litigation lawyer or two-cent literary critic will tell you, the devil is in the details.
Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

Helen DeWitt shocks the reader with her intelligence. Lightning Rods . . .is as lucid, methodical, and elegantly argued as a mathematical proof. It is also unremittingly filthy. DeWitt begins with a premise and goes on to think everything thinkable about it. A weird, generous, hilarious marvel."
Teju Cole

"If Henry Ford and Henry Miller were to write a book, this would be the result." Sheila Heti

Andrea Scrima wrote a review for the Rumpus that made me laugh, the whole thing here.

The Whiting Foundation and Slate Magazine dreamed up We Second That!, a celebration of the five best second novels in the last 5 years, in 2013; Dan Kois wrote an appreciation of the monument to bad taste that is Lightning Rods here.


A few options for buying are listed below (Indiebound helps you identify your nearest indie bookstore).

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository




Politics and Prose


Amazon (UK)