Previous Books

To the shock of lovers and rivals, indie guitarist Bud Barrett is finally—if tenuously—married, clean, and sober. Now he faces the challenge of staying that way. To avoid repeating the past, Bud needs to confront the ghosts that dwell there. After decades of seeking redemption in the arms of “pervy Florence Nightingales,” Bud finds himself still haunted by his mother’s abandonment, his own array of crimes, and a murder he witnessed as a child. As he revisits his life of grief and reckless excess, all paths lead to his long- estranged father, a man with his own turbulent history and the only one who can connect Bud’s fragments, unlocking the answers that just might save him.

Praise from writers:

Roberge’s writing is both drop-dead gorgeous and mind- bendingly smart. THE COST OF LIVING is an intimate, original, important novel that I’ll be recommending for years to come.
—Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of “Wild” (Oprah’s Book Club selection)

Roberge has birthed a gritty, honest, sweaty, rock ’n’ roller about addiction and the elusive road to redemption. THE COST OF LIVING will make you laugh, cringe, recognize, and keep you turning pages long after midnight.
—Jonathan Evison, bestselling author of “West of Here”

Roberge is the bard of the rough road, singer of the long haul, both lyrical and ferociously realistic. A new Roberge novel is always cause for celebration and THE COST OF LIVING is his best yet.
—Janet Fitch, bestselling author of “White Oleander” (Oprah’s Book Club selection)

Roberge is a great writer whose work should be more widely known.
—Stephen Elliott, founder of The Rumpus

THE COST OF LIVING is as unapologetic about its tenderness as it is about its brutality. Every sentence thrums with fierce eroticism. Roberge’s adrenaline-soaked book is such a thrill ride, you may not even notice that it’s slyly breaking your heart.
—Jillian Lauren, bestselling author of “Some Girls”

Like a great alt-country tune, THE COST OF LIVING is a rhythmic, jangling ride through addiction, lost loves, and busted hands. Roberge possesses a rare and irresistible voice: arresting, sincere, wounded, and cautionary. Nobody’s done a better job showing the dark side of the rock-and-roll dream. Narrator Bud Barrett belongs on the top shelf of literature’s big-hearted lowlifes, alongside Bukowski’s Henry Chinaski and Denis Johnson’s Fuckhead.
—Tyler McMahon, author of “How the Mistakes Were Made”

Roberge is among a handful of contemporary novelists who can elicit truly profound empathy from a reader. THE COST OF LIVING shows him at his best.
—Craig Clevenger, author of “The Contortionist’s Handbook”


Praise from musicians:

THE COST OF LIVING is high–not so much in cash but in damage to the soul. Roberge’s new effort is a journey into the depths of the human condition that we rarely get glimpses of. Few contemporary authors have the experience to tell these tales with any authenticity. Ultimately and painfully, this is a tale of redemption. A must read for all who profess a love for their fellow man at his most unloveable. Roberge joins the short list of brutal truth-tellers of our day. Crafty, heartbreaking, and even fun if you think taking a stoned-out bath in the middle of a drug robbery is funny. I do. This book is going to make one hell of a movie.
—Wayne Kramer

This is a guy who clearly knows his way around a tour bus. And around a massive drug habit. A dark, funny, frightening, and above all authentic book about the toll the rock and roll lifestyle can take.
—Scott Shriner, bass player for Weezer

THE COST OF LIVING brings it all back to life for me—the sounds, the sights, the smells, and the tastes. And it’s not always a pretty ride. I like that Roberge never takes the easy way out. Real bad things happen to real likeable people, and while I would never wish that on anyone I know, it sure makes for a good read.
—Steve Wynn, The Dream Syndicate

Sometimes, if the “cost of living” doesn’t kill you, there’s hope that you just may live long enough for it to make you stronger. In this novel of rock ’n’ roll and the vicious cycle of addiction, recovery and relapse, Roberge nails the soul-sucking twenty-three hours of the day it takes to get to that one hour onstage with the band you love and hate for the same reasons. This darkly funny and surprisingly hopeful, empathic novel is so good I read it twice.
—Billy Pitman, guitar player for Jimmie Vaughan

TriQuarterly Review
LA TIMES/David Ulin
Booked Podcast
Paul Gleason/Caught In The Carousel
Rob recorded a soundtrack for THE COST OF LIVING. You can access it HERE

Publication Date: 04/13/2013
Paperback: 285 pages
Publisher: OV Books (April 16, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1938604296
ISBN-13: 978-1938604294
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From a writer Steve Almond calls “the master of the down and out that just got worse” comes a collection of stories that live vividly in the reader’s memory long after the final page has been turned. Taking place in a world of desperate people who cling to hope, but have few expectations, Roberge introduces us to a motley crew of cripples, drug addicts, former child actors, chimpanzee boxers, exterminators, and assorted criminals. These desperate, boldly original stories are distinguished by a stark prose reminiscent of Denis Johnson or Lorrie Moore, but are, ultimately, all their own—powerful, riveting, deeply felt, and darkly funny.

“Seedy characters find themselves in even seedier situations in Roberge’s debut collection. In the title story, a young film student is asked by a corrupt producer of religious memorabilia to kill the producer’s son, left childlike after a botched suicide attempt. “Whatever Happened to Billy Brody?” is about an ex-child star trying to buy some pain pills who gets caught in a meth-lab drug deal gone bad. These stories and others get off to solid starts, but are often undermined by excessive detail meant to be colorful (“a woman whose teeth are going in every direction except for ones you’d expect from teeth”). But “Border Radio,” which begins, “When I was thirteen years old, my father killed a man in front of me,” mercifully bucks this trend, thanks to the detachment and authority of the narrative voice. And the best piece, “The Exterminator,” the story of a pest exterminator, could easily become a larger work. Roberge has the raw talent to approach Bukowski and Dennis Johnson territory; time will tell if he can arrive.”
—Publishers Weekly: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

“WORKING BACKWARDS FROM THE WORST MOMENT OF MY LIFE confirms what everyone should already know: Rob Roberge is one the finest short story writers working today. His vision of life is something like Denis Johnson’s, with Neil Young and Crazyhorse as the soundtrack, provided both dipped their toes into the surreal every now and then just to get some relief from the pressures of the world. A nuanced, violent and, ultimately, deeply felt collection of stories.”
—Tod Goldberg, author of “Living Dead Girl” and “Simplify”

“Rob Roberge is a modern master of the down-and-out-that-just-got-worse. His stories are dark and thrilling. They take hold of the reader like some bad, bracing dope and don’t let go until you feel the full measure of your own humanity. Prose this carefully wrought and true puts him in the tradition of Bukowski, Hammett, and Denis Johnson.”
—Steve Almond, author of “My Life in Heavy Metal,” “Candyfreak,” “The Evil BB Chow” and
“Not that You Asked: Essays”

“Subtly, deftly, Rob Roberge elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary. His surprising, often darkly humorous stories take the reader to places rarely visited by even our boldest writers. The prose is clean and tough and powerful, marking Roberge as a truly fine and formidable talent.”
—James Brown, author of “This River” and “The Los Angeles Diaries”

“These stories make me want to climb right up inside of Rob Roberge’s head and ride around looking out at his weird, dark world. His broken people are riveting and strange but deeply familiar. Beautiful and funny and heartbreaking in one breath — everyone should read this book.”
—Katie Arnoldi, author of “Chemical Pink” and “The Wentworths”

“These fiercely original small works explore the roughest off-road trail of men’s lives, a place where the road to redemption has long ago been left behind, and all that’s left is grief and violent action. Bathed in a prose of sensual texture–the taste of barbed wire, the roar of rusted engines, the scent of blood and dust and madness -Roberge’s collection blooms in the mind long after the last page has been turned.”
—Janet Fitch, author of “White Oleander” and “Paint it Black”
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Red Hen Press; 1st Edition (October 1 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1597091650
ISBN-13: 978-1597091657
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Trailer for the French Edition of Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life (13e Note Editions):


Nick Ray lives in a world where everything is for sale. University Ph.D.s, pig fetuses, bomb shelters, and vending-machine-dispensed live bait, to name just a few. But for the first time in a long time, Nick Ray finally has something to sell.

Determined to be covert about an affair he’s having with a woman already spoken for (by another woman), Nick buys the cheapest computer he can find at a local pawn shop, only to discover that the hard drive contains the names and addresses of dozens of members of the Witness Protection Program.

Partnering with a hulking Russian gangster with the world’s worst fashion sense and a disbarred lawyer who drinks rocket fuel, Nick decides to take advantage of his unique discovery. Yet despite the impressive credentials of this entrepreneurial dream team, Nick soon learns that having something to sell can end up simply making you a valuable commodity to someone else wanting to make a big score …

“Nick Ray, the divorced, alcoholic narrator of screenwriter/rocker Roberge’s zany, intermittently amusing suspense novel, works the night-shift at the historic Lincoln Hotel, a sewage-challenged Long Beach, California, commercial property that survived the 1933 earthquake. “No one with anyone they could count on ended up here,” Nick explains, “there were no mom or dads knocking on the doors of the Lincoln.” Aching to get out of the place, Nick is thrilled when he buys a fossilized computer and discovers that it’s loaded with the current locations of whistle-blowers who were hidden by the government’s witness-protection program-priceless information to thugs looking for revenge and a payoff for Nick to start a new life with his kinky, bisexual lover Tara. With the help of a flashy, gold-toothed Russian criminal and a lawyer-turned-recovering junkie, Nick test-blackmails relocated Frank Carr with surprising success. But greed soon intervenes and the troika gets in over their heads with dangerous felon and Titanic fanatic Harry Fudge, an aging crook Cole’s firm once rescued from a hefty jail sentence. Though the narrative eventually downshifts into an easy, uninspired resolution, this drug-hazed Christmastime romp will please many readers with its dark humor and quick plot twists.”
—Publishers Weekly: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed
Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

“Ever wonder what dark schemes and dreams occupy the dead time of overnight desk jockeys at fleabag hotels? Alcoholic sad sack Nick Ray can provide some insights. He’s sleepwalking through life at a flop in Long Beach, drinking rocket fuel with his junkie friends, and pretending to be a few moves away from finding love and happiness. Fat chance. As he says at the outset of this atmospheric shaggy-dog story, “Nick Ray will let you down.” But he’ll do it in an entertaining fashion. When he’s not fulfilling his lesbian girlfriend’s freaky sexual fantasies, Nick is buying up government-surplus computers full of names from the federal-witness relocation program. He figures selling the info back to the witnesses will be plenty lucrative. But a Russian gangster acquaintance and Nick’s addict-attorney friend (who, naturally, is undergoing maggot therapy for an arm infection) want to sell to the bad guys instead. Much chaos could ensue, but it mostly doesn’t. Like a Kevin Smith film, this novel’s seedy charms come simply from spying on colorful losers figuring out new ways to lose.”
–Booklist: Frank Sennett Copyright © American Library Association. All rights

“Roberge stages even the most brutal scenes for nervous laughs, and he has a knack for impeccably grotty details of the demimonde: one of Nick’s companions is a disbarred lawyer known as Maggot Arm Joe, thanks to his unorthodox treatment for an IV-drug abscess. Best of all is Nick’s studiously masochistic girl friend, Tara, who believes that ”you can get through life with just two lines: ‘I don’t know and You’re talking to the wrong guy/gal.’”
–The New York Times (Sunday Review Section)

“Extremely fast moving and often funny and sad at the same time, this book is so plausible that it feels like something I saw on the news not read in a book.”
–Crime Spree Magazine

“Roberge’s book is not easy to shake off, that’s for sure. The grime of these lives still remains in our minds long after the last page has been read.”

“Holy God! Strap in and get ready for a mind flush. Roberge gives us the rotting tail of the counterculture in postmodern apocalypse. Kesey and Burroughs meet Leonard Palahniuk — and get stomped. I need a fix. More, now!”
–Tim Dorsey

“Gritty, funky, addictive, and written with eloquent ruthlessness, as all the good ones are.”
–Kinky Friedman

“MORE THAN THEY COULD CHEW is sick and funny and impossible to put down. Roberge marches us into his grimy world of tragic losers and he keeps us there, eyes wide open, with his perverse humor and twisted wit. Once these people get a hold of you, there’s no turning back.”
–Katie Arnoldi, author of “Chemical Pink”

“There are only a few great practitioners of noir working today — Scott Phillips, Daniel Woodrell, Victor Gischler — but you can add Rob Roberge to their ranks. MORE THAN THEY COULD CHEW is as bitterly violent and bitterly funny as they come and Roberge is a breath of dirty fresh air.”
–Tod Goldberg, author of “Fake, Liar, Cheat” & “Living Dead Girl”

“Call it kink-noir. Call it beer-soaked black humor. Call it whatever you want. But buy this book.”
– Rachel Resnick, author of “Go West, Young Fucked up Chick”
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 1 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060742801
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Or support you indies: Powell’s Books
DRIVE is the one of the great basketball novels of all time, a dark, funny, compassionate story from a writer who has been called “the laureate of any marginalized demographic, a professor of the articulately disenfranchised.” It’ll draw you into what it means to be alive.

“A seriously talented writer, Roberge is an explorer of the everyday. Chicken franchises. Florida. The micro-politics of sex. That’s where this book lives. So do I. So do you. My advice–spend the money, buy the book, take the ride.”
–François Camoin, Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award & The AWP Award

“I picked up DRIVE and I didn’t put it down. The people in this book are sharp and damaged and they won’t let you go even when you’ve finished reading.”
–Katie Arnoldi, author of “Chemical Pink”

“What we need are more stories that back us into corners. We need books that show teeth, and Roberge has given us one in DRIVE.”
–Darrell Spencer, Winner of the Drue Heinz Award & The Flannery O’Connor Award

“DRIVE lets you know that the world isn’t always as simple as winning and losing, it’s sometimes just enough to survive. Drive cements Rob Roberge’s place as the voice of the underbelly.”
–Tod Goldberg, author of “Fake, Liar, Cheat” & “Living Dead Girl”
Hardcover/Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Hollyridge Press (2011/Reprint August 31, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984310045
ISBN-13: 978-0984310043
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Or support you indies: Powell’s Books

From what I understand I’m enormously popular in France:

La Tête à l’envers, les Pieds au Mur/
Working Backwards From The Worst Moment of My Life
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: 13e Note Editions (June 2012)
ISBN: 978-2-36374-039-7
Language: Français


Panne sèche/More Than They Could Chew
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Gallimard (August 31 2006)
Language: Français