Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize
New to town and delusionally confident, Slide imagined himself living in a glossy building with doormen and sweeping views of the skyline. Instead he's landed in a creaking, stuffy apartment with two roommates: a loping giant who hardly leaves his room, and a weight-obsessed neurotic who keeps no fewer than forty-seven lamps throughout the house, blazing at all hours.
Unwilling to accept this fate, Slide--a barber with an opaque past--embarks on a quest for the perfect apartment, pinballing through the sprawling, madcap city of Polis and its endless procession of neighborhoods. As he bounces from foldout couch to disaster-relief tent, falling in with some tough types, Slide begins to realize that he's going to have to scratch and claw just to claim a place for himself in this world--let alone a place with in-unit laundry.
An exuberant, fantastical odyssey, Pay As You Go
wonders if what we're searching for is ever really out there. Its pages--surreal, biting, and teeming with life--announce the startling talents of Eskor David Johnson, who knows that all any of us really want is a place to rest our head.