How to Be Normal

Phil Christman
February 1, 2022

"A probing and provocative collection." —Publishers Weekly

Phil Christman is one of the best cultural critics working today. Or, as a reviewer of his previous book, Midwest Futures, put it, "one of the most underappreciated writers of [his] generation." 

You may also know Phil from his columns in Commonweal and Plough, or his viral essay "What Is It Like To Be A Man?, the latter adapted in his new book, How To Be Normal

Christman’s second book includes essays on "How To Be White," "How to Be Religious," "How To Be Married," and more, in addition to new versions of the above. Find in it also brilliant analyses of middlebrow culture, bad movies, Mark Fisher, Christian fundamentalism, and more. 

With exquisite attention to syntax and prose, the astoundingly well-read Christman pairs a deceptively breezy style with radical openness.  In his witty, original hands, seemingly "normal" subjects are rendered exceptional, and exceptionally.

A former substitute teacher, shelter worker, and home health aide, Phil Christman currently lectures in the English department at University of Michigan. His work has appeared in The Hedgehog ReviewCommonwealThe Christian CenturyThe Outline, and other places. He holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina-Columbia. He is the editor of the Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, a journal sponsored by the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project. He lives in Ann Arbor, MI.

More praise for How to Be Normal: 

One of The Millions' "most anticipated" books of 2022!

"Erudite riffs on race, religion, masculinity, and other contentious subjects." —Kirkus Reviews

"[In] How to Be Normal, Christman presents essays on a variety of topics ranging from race and masculinity to religion and pop culture, all written in the tone of a subversive self-help guide. Engaging a belles-lettristic negative capability, Christman takes on the big subjects while always remembering that the point of criticism is to more fully be a person." —Ed SimonThe Millions

ISBN: 9781953368102| 208 pages|Hardcover|February 1, 2022|$26.00

Digital review copies available on Edelweiss and upon request (please email Anne Trubek at 

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