Man, Oh Man

A Novel by Mike Corrao


Two patrons appear in a dim cafe one day. How they've arrived, where they've come from, and why they're there at all, they have no idea. What they do know is that they hate one another.

So they smoke. They tinker. They talk about art. They talk about waiting. They talk about talking. They talk about talking about talking. They talk about the strange messages coming through the radio. They talk about the even stranger guests who arrive, only to disappear a moment later. And as they fall deeper and deeper into this hysteria, what's uncovered might just make these two unlikely protagonists the most human of us all.

Mike Corrao has with Man, Oh Man masterly crafted a humorous yet insightful experiment that'll have you questioning how you've always approached novels.

Read an Excerpt here.

Written by Mike Corrao // Shot by Rob Prochnow



Mike Corrao is the author of Man, Oh Man (Orson's Publishing, 2018) and Gut Text (11:11 Press, 2019). His work has been featured in publications such as Entropy, Always Crashing, and The Portland Review. He lives in Minneapolis where he earned his B.A. in film and English literature at the University of Minnesota. Learn more at

Author photo credit: Rob Prochnow


"Man, Oh Man is the dense cigarette smoke fog that permeates the air of a purgatory for the deeply-intelligent. A truly ontological and metaphysical experience, teeming with dozens upon dozens of happenings and un-happenings. Another way to put this: welcome to your Great American Un-Novel. Man, Oh Man should be added to the list of books that stand the test of time. After this, whatever Corrao writes next, please also add to that list …yes, I’m sure." 

- Mike Kleine, author of Lonely Men Club and Kanley Stubrick


"A bold and innovative debut by a smart young novelist. Man, Oh Man is a crafty experiment of form—it's like nothing I've read before."

- Daniel Abbott, author of The Concrete


"Like Didi and Gogo, Laurel and Hardy or Jake and Elwood – Man and Oh Man wind and unwind; they knit and unknit … and as they do Mike Corrao's Man, Oh Man shifts from sweater to skein and back again. Man, Oh Man puzzles through dialogue and debate, each sentence a cog seeking to be refit into the novel's clockwork mechanism; a gear looking to connect, only to find itself lost in a Goldberg Machine."

- Derek Beaulieu, author of a, A Novel and 2014-2016 Poet Laureate of Calgary


"Mike Corrao’s debut is equally brief and ambitious, playing freely with language and diving into questions of philosophy, art, humanity, and being—while searching deeply into the psyche of that one guy in freshman philosophy class who’s got it all figured out and can’t seem to quit doling out answers. Funny in spots and necessarily grating in others, characters Man and Oh, Man plow through mountains of cold coffee and cigarette ash searching for—well, they’re not sure. It’s witty, smart, and unlike anything I’ve ever read. "

- Brooks Rexroat, author of Thrift Store Coats


"'Do any good novels exist?' is a question feinted in the verbal joust of Man & Oh Man, the bickering ciphers of Mike Corrao's curious debut book. It is a question Corrao cleverly evades answering, either in the book's incessant repartee—for his ciphers, in the tradition of Didi & Gogo, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, and Bouvard & Pecuchet, do not seek answers as much as they seek to make time concrete with their voices—nor in the project of Man, Oh Man itself, because this is a book that is only masquerading as a novel. Much like the book of Flaubert's titular duo, it is a savage critique of knowledge and erudition. But, only in using the form of the novel could an essay of such circularity achieve the goal of embodying the nothingness of culture's inexorability." 

- John Trefry, author of Plats


“Reading Mike Corrao’s Man, Oh Man is like being stuck on the loading screen before the universe begins. Every half-idea, mundane absurdity, and meta-criticism is suspended and floating in a yawning vacuum, so the titular characters can examine, prod, discuss, and break the epistemologies we take for granted. Part Angela Carter, part Beckett, this novel is a fever dream in a Parisian cafe where the other patrons can see your existential phantoms. You look up from your chess game and out the window with a sigh, having long ago forgotten how to make sense of the chaotic outer world, and having long ago stopped caring.” 

- August Smith, author of Bird Lizard House and The Mario Kart 64 Poems


"Man Oh Man is Mr. Show meets Six Characters in Search of an Author—funny, deep, absurd, true, good. Mike Corrao's jangled jive jazz dialogue will hold you as much as the questions the characters ask about life, the world, humanity. Seriously, just read it."

- Adam Van Winkle, editor of Cowboy Jamboree Magazine and author of Abraham Anyhow


"Man, Oh Man is a distorted, contemplative, and refracted look at the nature of storytelling itself. It’s as if two literary critics, over-invested in the authority of Barthes, Derrida, and your other favorite literary theorists, sat down in the cafe of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” and discussed narrative theory all night, humorously enacting both the trivialities of theoretical discourse gone awry, but also the importances and constraints of language, the spiral they fall into both affecting their own positions as subjects to each other, to the narrative they themselves are in, and the narrative they attempt to construct with the language they weave around themselves."

- Janice Lee, Executive Editor of Entropy and author of The Sky Isn't Blue


Man, Oh Man is one of the smartest and funniest books I’ve read this year. It’s a self-conscious satire on intellectualism and the post-modern novel. The author, Mike Corrao, is creative, witty, and original. His literary debut at 22 is as groundbreaking as Bret Easton Ellis’s early success with Less Than Zero.

- Andrew Wilt, author of Age of Agility: The New Tools for Career Success


"Reading this book is like eavesdropping on a fascinating conversation—a conversation you must hear even though you risk being noticed the longer you listen until, suddenly, both participants turn to you and acknowledge your faux pas. At times hilarious, meta, playful, witty, and obnoxious, most threads of the (pseudo-)intellectual debate between Man and Oh Man become what every philosophical discussion becomes if drawn out long enough: bullshit. And whence the bullshit? From the bull in the china shop, of course—the phrase in question at the beginning of the novel and revisited intermittently. You'll find yourself leaning in closer so you can hear what they'll say next." 

- Jason Jordan, editor of decomP magazinE

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