The Deb Ball Welcomes Sean Ferrell

Every once in a while we like to mix it up here at The Deb Ball and ask a guy to wear the tiara for the day, so please welcome debut author, Sean Ferrell. Doesn’t he look like the tiara-wearing type? To celebrate his debut, we’re giving away a copy of Numb to one lucky commentor. You have until midnight tonight to leave a comment and be entered into the drawing to win your own copy.

SEAN FERRELL is the author of Numb (HarperPerennial, August 2010). His short fiction has appeared in The Cafe Irreal and won the Fulton Prize from The Adirondack review. He lives and works, in no particular order, in New York City. You can find him online at

Numb, a man who feels no pain and has no memory of how he came to be this way, travels to New York City after a short stint in the circus to search for the answers to his past. But when word of his condition spreads–sparked by the attention he attracts from letting people nail his hands to bars for money–he quickly finds himself hounded on all sides by those who would use his unique ability in their own pursuits of fame and fortune.

Welcome Sean. We’re glad to have you with us. It’s actually a bit of a coup to get Sean now, because we heard murmurs the new Debs were going to try and snag him, but we’re faster. Sean’s going to talk about the subject we’ve all covered this week: If you like my book, then you might like….

I am thrilled to have been asked to post to the Debutante Ball. At long last I have a chance to wear this ballgown I’ve had in my closet since 1989. Unfortunately, this thing has about twenty layers and each is puffier than the last. I can barely see my computer.

I was asked to suggest books that you might enjoy if you enjoyed Numb. Making suggestions about what books you might enjoy if you enjoyed my novel feels like a dicey proposition. First, it feels a bit presumptuous. What if you didn’t enjoy Numb, am I inadvertently suggesting books you should be sure to avoid? Am I spreading the blame for my failures? Second, there is a whiff of hubris. Here I come, a wee babe off the press, and I’m placing my book beside works of art. So let me be clear from the outset, any failures are my own, any comparisons non-existent. For me, the real revelation of this list is in thinking about what pieces of fiction meant a great deal to me and informed my writing in general–books that shaped me. The three books I mention below were ones that shook me in some way, and in thinking about what they did, and how they did it, they offered some kind of road map for how to think about writing.

So, without any hubris or sharing of blame, if you like Numb you might also like:

Girl with the Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace

This collection taught me that very serious fiction could also be laugh out loud funny. The depictions of Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak in the story “Little Expressionless Animals” would be worth reading even if they weren’t accompanied by the depth and desperation of the contestant the story is focused on. I devoured this collection. Passages lay details on, baroque, detail after detail so that you can smell the moisture inducing  thickness of the entertainment industry air. I will always miss Mr. Wallace.

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

Quite simply, a perfect book. Short, interconnected stories that are righteously  and movingly tragic, yet still uplifting. The main character should really be dead or in jail or both. Mr. Johnson’s prose–lean, driven, unflinching–gets to the bones of the stories. In the end, reading this collection (some might say novel) is less a reading experience and more an emotional one.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

One of those books I was forced to read in school that I gladly return to again and again. It is the reason teachers assign reading: you never know when one assignment clicks and taps passion. This book, its lost protagonist (victim?), and Camus’ eye for detail express a philosophical view while also engaging the reader.

Thanks again, Sean. And don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win NUMB.

17 Replies to “The Deb Ball Welcomes Sean Ferrell”

  1. Welcome! And, ahem, you look so good in the tiara we 2011 Debs just might invite you back for Part Deux. Your cover art is amazing – it speaks to me “Buy me now and a copy for your sister too.” Did you have any input into the cover? Readers don’t often know that authors don’t always get to say much about cover choice. Off to order a copy, and yes, one for my sister.

    KIM, Deb 2011 (These gown fitting are exhausting!)

  2. As a rejected contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” (hey, the tryouts were really rigorous!) I think I need to read Girl With the Curious Hair. Very funny post – and your book sounds fascinating. Thanks, Sean.

  3. I’m about 1/3 of the way through NUMB and love, love, LOVING it! My book club is reading it as this month’s selection, and Sean (kind soul that he is) will be doing a phone chat with us about it. Can I just say this excites me so much I just peed myself?


  4. Boy, was I into Camus and all of those existential types back in my senior year in high school and first couple years of college (that teen angsty thing in spades). Been hearing great things about your book though, Sean. Ok, mostly links from your twitter feed, but still. I can’t pass up a chance at winning a copy of a book I think I’d really enjoy.

  5. Nice shoes, btw…not many men can pull off four-inch stilettos along with a gown like that. Looking forward to reading Numb, whether via a win here or by “standard-issue purchase.” I’m hearing great things!

  6. I love JESUS’ SON! There aren’t enough words to say how much I love it. So… now I want to read NUMB _even more_ than before. Look what you did, Sean!

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