Neon Green

It’s the summer of 1994 in suburban Chicago: Forrest Gump is in theaters, teens are reeling from the death of Kurt Cobain, and you can enter a sweepstakes for a spaceship from Jupiter to land in your backyard.

Welcome to Margaret Wappler’s slightly altered 90s. Everything’s pretty much the way you remember it, except for the aliens.


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“Funny, sad, weird, timely: in Neon Green, Wappler mixes up her own distinct cocktail of these into a substantive and affecting debut.” — Aimee Bender

“Part historical novel, part alternative history, Neon Green captures the suburban-American experience at the cusp of the Internet Age, and asks its readers to consider what unites–and what threatens–a family. Strange yet accessible, goofy yet also, somehow, heartbreaking, this is a debut to be reckoned with.” Edan Lepucki

“Deeply moving, unsentimentally nostalgic, surreal, and hilarious, Wappler’s alternate 1990s unravels the curiosities and sufferings that reveal our character and transform our souls.” J. Ryan Stradal

Neon Green is a time capsule: it captures a moment, a slice of recent history, a feeling, a way of life. Wappler writes with humor, warmth, and intelligence. Filled with jewel-like sentences and insights that add up to a rewarding and deeply affecting novel.”  Charles Yu

Neon Green is an extraordinary, inventive literary triumph. Evoking the imaginative pleasures of Lydia Davis, Aimee Bender, and Don DeLillo, Neon Green depicts family life, environmentalism, marriage, illness, and spaceships with ingenuity and sophistication.”Joe Meno

When a flying saucer lands in the Allens’ backyard, family patriarch and environmental activist Ernest is up in arms. According to the company facilitating the visits, the spaceship is 100 percent non-toxic, but as Ernest’s panic increases, so do his questions: What are the effects of longterm exposure to the saucer and why is it really here?

The family starts logging the spaceship’s daily fits and starts but it doesn’t get them any closer to figuring out the spaceship’s comically erratic behavior. Ernest’s wife Cynthia and their children, Alison and Gabe, are less concerned with the saucer, and more worried about their father’s growing paranoia (not to mention their mundane, suburban existences). Set before the arrival of the internet, Neon Green will stun, unnerve, and charm readers with its loving depiction of a suburban family living on the cusp of the future.

Read an excerpt at Joyland

A recording of an early excerpt of “Neon Green” from New American Writing: Ann Beattie and Margaret Wappler at the Hammer Museum


Los Angeles Times
Chicago Magazine
Electric Lit
Lit Reactor
The Rumpus
Las Vegas Weekly
The Stranger
Vol. 1 Brooklyn
Publishers Weekly
Angel City Review
Girls at Library for Lonny
Sleepless Editor
Chicago Review of Books
Call Your Girlfriend podcast (Episode 58)
All the Books! podcast (Episode 62)
NPR’s Bullseye (podcast appearance)
LA Review of Books Radio Hour (podcast appearance)
Other Ppl with Brad Listi (podcast appearance)
The People (podcast appearance)