MadHat Press

Driven by John Skoyles

Driven is a travelogue in which the narrator reviews his life in the course of twenty four hours. A professor at a small college hopes for something different to happen on the last day of the academic year. And it does. When he leaves his home on Cape Cod for Boston where he teaches, he enters a world both real and imaginary. Two of his passengers are his dead parents. The third is the love of his life from years ago. He navigates issues of loss, class, fame and family as he passes familiar landmarks, stops at the same coffee shops, recalls the dance at the dump, the stories of barflies and entrepreneurs, eccentric colleagues and his newfound sobriety. Is it fiction or nonfiction? That depends on whether or not you believe in ghosts.


Driven is a tender account of matters sorting themselves in the autumn of life. It inspires an awakening, which is to live well, to pay attention to every fraught atom of sorrow and joy, and to be grateful. Skoyles shows us the intricate way moment meets memory, as his meditations on his life reveal a sensibility that is all too rare.

—Afaa M. Weaver, author of The Government of Nature and Spirit Boxing

Imagine a book that captures the charm of Grace Paley, the deadpan-ness of Thomas Bernhard, and the anagogical play of Joy Williams. Impossible? No, that’s John Skoyles’ Driven, smashing the barriers between the here and the afterlife, the real and the imaginary, illness and health, youth and old age—all the tidy, unsatisfying categories we’ve constructed to trek through the day. Brilliance!

Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

Someday I will write a book as good as John Skoyles’ Driven, I told myself in a dream. I awoke next to Skoyles in his car, laughing, weeping and marveling at his talent and grace as a writer. I plan to buy many copies of Driven and give them to friends, that they may learn what the human spirit holds and how it travels.

—Pablo Medina, author of Cubop City Blues and The Island Kingdom

John Skoyles’ Driven is a series of evocative miniatures that explore the past, memory, and how we reconcile our ambition—our intimate drives and what drives us.  Skoyles is also well aware of what we can’t control, how we are not always in control, how we are sometimes passengers driven by others.  These stories are gorgeously rendered lyrics, mature in their observations, and breathtakingly sublime in their imagery. Skoyles writes prose odes to loss, impermanence, to saying goodbye, affirming a life well-lived, a life filled with friendship and love.

—Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout and Ka-Ching!

Hilarious and strange, original and enchanting. A cool little masterpiece.

—Tony Hoagland, author of Recent Changes in the Vernacular
and Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God

Paperback
Publisher: Madhat, Inc. (2019)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-941196-78-6

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MadHat Press is the non-profit publishing arm of the annual multimedia e-zine, MadHat (Mad Hatters’ Review), and a production of MadHat, Inc.

MadHat Press seeks to foster the work of writers and poets: explosive, lyrical, passionate, deeply wrought voices that stretch the boundaries of language, narrative and image, vital and enduring literary voices that sing on the page as well as in the mind.

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