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Cover of The Atmospherians by Alex McElroy
May 2021
Atria Books

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The Atmospherians

A Novel
Alex McElroy

A “dazzling” (Bryan Washington, author of "Lot") and brilliantly satirical debut novel for fans of "Women Talking" and "Red Clocks" about two best friends — a disgraced influencer and a struggling actor — who form The Atmosphere, a cult designed to reform problematic men.

Sasha Marcus was once the epitome of contemporary success: an internet sensation, social media darling and a creator of a high profile wellness brand for women. But a confrontation with an abusive troll has taken a horrifying turn, and now she’s at rock bottom: canceled and doxxed online, fired from her waitress job and fortressed in her apartment while men’s rights protestors rage outside. All that once glittered now condemns.

Sasha confides in her oldest childhood friend, Dyson — a failed actor with a history of body issues — who hatches a plan for Sasha to restore her reputation by becoming the face of his new business venture, The Atmosphere: a rehabilitation community for men. Based in an abandoned summer camp and billed as a workshop for job training, it is actually a rigorous program designed to rid men of their toxic masculinity and heal them physically, emotionally and socially. Sasha has little choice but to accept. But what horrors await her as the resident female leader of a crew of washed up, desperate men? And what exactly does Dyson want?

Explosive and wickedly funny, this “'Fight Club' for the millennial generation” (Mat Johnson, author of "Pym") peers straight into the dark heart of wellness and woke-ness, self-mythology and self-awareness, by asking what happens when we become addicted to the performance of ourselves.


Alex McElroy received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing degree from Arizona State University in 2015.

Praise for this book

“McElroy’s impressive debut novel lands a well-crafted jab at toxic masculinity and attempts to control it … rich prose and haunting images, using a finely honed satirical lens. This notable debut makes hay with the miasma of contemporary culture.”

Publishers Weekly

"McElroy’s debut is as uncomfortable as it is thought-provoking. It takes on toxic masculinity, eating disorders, influencer culture, and the violence inherent in power dynamics without dragging or overreaching. Edgy, addictive, gruesome and smart."

Kirkus (Starred review)