Best Copy AVAILABLE
A True Crime Memoir
WINNER OF THE 2023 AWP Award Series Sue William Silverman Prize
for Creative Nonfiction
THE Early Praise
"A compulsive descent into darkness, a fearless portrait of the invincibility of our fragile hearts. Nicorvo leaves it all on the page...a bravura performance.”
— Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
"An unflappable, unrelenting examination of abuse and violence, Best Copy Available holds nothing back. Nicorvo is fearless as he confronts the past, and fearless as he steps into his future.”
— Ann Hood, New York Times bestselling author
of Comfort: A Journey Through Grief
"The (true) story unfolding in Best Copy Available is almost unrelentingly bleak but that relentlessness also makes it difficult to put down. The voice is jagged, dangerous, compelling and, above all, appropriate."
— Geoff Dyer, author of The Last Days Of Roger Federer
In winter of 1984, Sharon Nicorvo was violently raped delivering pizza to the barracks at Fort Monmouth Army Base in New Jersey. Meanwhile, her son Jay, seven years old, was being subjected to repeated, and secret, sexual abuses at the hands of a babysitter. Best Copy Available: A True Crime Memoir delves into these devastating events. Thirty years later, in receiving a photocopy of the criminal investigation report generated out of that brutal Jersey night, Nicorvo finds a primer to better understand certain assumptions. About class and race. Sex and violence. Crime and punishment. Low and high culture. Sanity, madness and masculinity. And the facsimile nature of the truth.
As various American men—some real, some imagined, all prone to violence—move in and then out of their hardscrabble lives, mother and son spend decades avoiding and ultimately confronting what happened to them in that formative year, 1984. Going from the Jersey Shore to the Gulf Coast of Florida before culminating in the Midwest, Best Copy Available tells a ranging American story, by turns harrowing and hilarious, of how the love of a single mother helped end an awful cycle of abuse and abandonment.
Most ambitiously, Best Copy Available lends voice to an alternative version of American boyhood, manhood and fatherhood. One where the sons of deadbeat dads can grow up to be stay-at-home dads, and where our boys and men may come to realize that the most courageous show of strength, these days, is not the determined use of force. It’s knowing when and how to ask for help.