Lewis Chopik has at last graduated from Columbia University. Having been dumped by his girlfriend and in flight from the pressures exerted by his ambitious professor father, Lewis returns to Wichita in search of respite at the home of his New-Ager mother, Abby. But when Abby picks Lewis up from the airport, she reveals that she’s starting a storm-chasing business and then passes Lewis a graduation gift of $5000 in cash, which turns out to be the proceeds of a feminist Ponzi scheme called The Birthday Party. Lewis soon learns that his mother is also indulging in a polyamorous lifestyle. One of her boyfriends, a chemist and professor of “futures studies,” lives in a tent in the yard and has a drug lab in the basement. Another unexpected arrival is Seth, Lewis’s charismatic yet troubling bipolar younger brother. Seth is back home to unveil the new tattoo emblazoned on his chest that reads: In Loving Memory of Seth Chopik. Things begin to resemble the land of Oz more than Wichita when Lewis, while minding Seth, joins Abby in the Flint Hills on a storm-chase with her first client.
Thad Ziolkowski is the author of Our Son the Arson, a collection of poems, and a memoir, On a Wave, which was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award in 2003. In 2008, he was awarded a fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Bookforum, Artforum, Travel & Leisure and Index. He directs the Writing Program at Pratt Institute. Wichita is his first novel.