At its core, Code for Failure is a novel about slipping. The narrator slips out of college, slips into a crappy gig, slips into prostitution, slips into statutory rape, and eventually slips into a relationship. Along the way, we’re treated to a funny, sharp story that’s a study in ennui and idleness.
A rather devastating emotional portrait of alienation, ennui and bad decisions, rife with the kinds of casual-sex disasters you would expect when sad small-town middle-aged women clumsily try to seduce beefy 22-year-old gas pumpers.
Excessive drinking, drug use, and sex aren’t usually the best way to redeem yourself after getting kicked out of college. But that’s exactly what the antihero of Ryan W. Bradley’s debut novel attempts to do. After returning to his hometown he gets a job pumping gas, and then a second (less legal) job on the side. He’s hellbent on living his way, like life’s a punk song, even if it means leaving a Shiva-like path of destruction in his wake.
In this autobiographical novel Bradley tackles coming-of-age ennui and nihilistic slackerism through the lens of youthful misbehavior and indiscretion. In his seminal film, Clerks, Kevin Smith pulled the curtain back on convenience store clerks, and now Code for Failure is doing the same for gas station attendants.
*The newly revised and re-designed 2nd edition of Code for Failure features a foreword from Hosho McCreesh, a preface by the author, an all-new chapter, and a suggested playlist.
“Imbued with the vast free-floating sadness and cosmic potential of the American Northwest, this novel charts a zigzag path for its hero from slacker nihilism to some kind of nascent maturity, leaving a trail of naked bodies and spilled gasoline all the way.”
—Paul Di Filippo, author of Roadside Bodhisattva and Fractal Paisleys
“Ryan W. Bradley’s Code for Failure is one of the most incredible novels of resistance to despair, to endurance when the soul has been lost, is wandering but not forgotten, that I have read in a long, long time.”
—Gary Amdahl, author of Visigoth: Stories and I Am Death
“Code for Failure gets at the biggest things by staring ever more closely at the smallest things, and reminds us again what it means to want and want.”
—Kyle Minor, author of In the Devil’s Territory
“Ryan W. Bradley knows so well, and captures so vividly, life unfolding in real time, decisions made and not, love and loss, and the idea that failure is always looming until we are willing to believe in ourselves, take chances and remember that it’s okay to be happy again.”
—Ben Tanzer, author of You Can Make Him Like You
RYAN W BRADLEY has pumped gas, changed oil, painted houses, swept the floor of a mechanic’s shop, worked on a construction crew in the Arctic Circle, fronted a punk band, and managed an independent children’s bookstore. He now splits his time between working for an audiobook publisher and designing book covers. He received his MFA from Pacific University and has been published widely online and in print. He is the author of a story collection, Prize Winners; a novel, Code for Failure; and three poetry collections, Mile Zero, The Waiting Tide, and The Memory of Planets. He also collaborated with David Tomaloff on the poetry collection, You Are Jaguar. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two sons.