Lungfish A novel

Meghan Gilliss

Book - 2022

"Tuck is slow to understand the circumstances that have driven her family to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine, the former home of her deceased grandmother where she once spent her childhood summers. Squatting there now, she must care for her spirited young daughter and scrape together enough money to leave before winter arrives-or before they are found out. Relying on the island for sustenance and answers-bladderwrack, rosehips, tenacious little green crabs; smells held by the d...amp walls of the house, field guides and religious texts, a failed invention left behind by her missing father-Tuck lives moment-by-moment through the absurdity, beauty, paranoia, and hunger that shoots through her life, as her husband struggles to detox. Exquisitely written and formally daring, Lungfish tells the story of a woman grappling through the lies she has been told-and those she has told herself-to arrive at the truth of who she is and where she must go. Meghan Gilliss's debut is a novel about addiction, doubt, marriage, motherhood, and learning to see in the dark" --

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FICTION/Gilliss Meghan
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Gilliss Meghan (NEW SHELF) Due Oct 13, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Published
New York, NY : Catapult 2022.
Edition
First catapult edition
Language
English
Physical Description
306 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
1646220919
9781646220915
Main Author
Meghan Gilliss (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Circumstances have pushed Tuck, Paul, and their daughter, Agnes, to the point of mere existence. Wrung dry by hunger, they live on a remote island in the Gulf of Maine, squatters in a house passed down to Tuck's father by her grandmother. Compounding matters is Paul's recovery from drug addiction and his insensitivity to his young family's needs. Tuck's traumatic childhood—abandoned by their parents, Tuck and her brother stitched together odd jobs to make ends meet—also casts a long shadow over her present circumstances. Narrated by Tuck, Gilliss' debut novel paints an aching picture of life at the fringes of American society, capturing a pain that is nearly tearing the family apart. The hallucinatory and poetic prose, including gorgeous descriptions of the island's natural beauty, feels right for a woman who is consumed with hunger not only for food but also for a semblance of normalcy and love. "Elsewhere in the world, lungfish survive droughts by coating themselves in mud and sinking deep into sleep," Tuck points out. Survival strategies for humans are a lot more complicated. When society has passed you by, when you have to boil kelp for sustenance, every lived moment is a lesson in how to stay alive. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

From Pushcart and Glimmer Train nominee Gilliss, this debut features a couple driven by debts from the husband's addiction to hide away on a deserted island off the coast of Maine, where they live illegally while trying to scrape together enough money to depart before the winter snows—or maybe the police—arrive. With the husband attempting to detox, the story is essentially the wife's, following her as she tends to their daughter, forages for berries and mussels, and struggles with the vast emptiness within and without. Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Gilliss debuts with a pungent and riveting story set on a tiny, isolated Maine island. After Tuck's grandmother dies, the family's island house is left to her father, but he's been missing ever since Tuck was in high school. Tuck's family desperately needs a change from their "strange, failed home" in Pittsburgh, so she surreptitiously moves to the island with her husband, Paul, and her young daughter, Agnes. Once they arrive, Paul, who is addicted to kratom, an opioid herbal extract, goes through an excruciating detox. When he's mobile, money disappears; when he isn't, there isn't enough food or gas, and the mainland is only accessible by boat. In memorable sequences, Tuck and Agnes forage for sustenance, stretching their diets over the summer to accommodate little more than seaweed and mussels (when Tuck throws a starfish back in the water, Agnes screams in hunger). Tuck also makes a bit of money by designing and printing comical bumper stickers, which she sells on the mainland. As she puts off telling the pesky executor about her father's long-ago disappearance, she wonders if the family could make a go of it through the winter. Gilliss shines with a lyrical style and bold, fragmented structure, as Tuck's frequent meditations on lungfish, which can go without food for three years and survive in "the hardest place, the intertidal zone," contrast with her own predicament. Indeed, Tuck's resilience makes her an indelible creation. Out of a tangible sense of desperation, Gilliss produces a triumph. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Gilliss debuts with a pungent and riveting story set on a tiny, isolated Maine island. After Tuck's grandmother dies, the family's island house is left to her father, but he's been missing ever since Tuck was in high school. Tuck's family desperately needs a change from their "strange, failed home" in Pittsburgh, so she surreptitiously moves to the island with her husband, Paul, and her young daughter, Agnes. Once they arrive, Paul, who is addicted to kratom, an opioid herbal extract, goes through an excruciating detox. When he's mobile, money disappears; when he isn't, there isn't enough food or gas, and the mainland is only accessible by boat. In memorable sequences, Tuck and Agnes forage for sustenance, stretching their diets over the summer to accommodate little more than seaweed and mussels (when Tuck throws a starfish back in the water, Agnes screams in hunger). Tuck also makes a bit of money by designing and printing comical bumper stickers, which she sells on the mainland. As she puts off telling the pesky executor about her father's long-ago disappearance, she wonders if the family could make a go of it through the winter. Gilliss shines with a lyrical style and bold, fragmented structure, as Tuck's frequent meditations on lungfish, which can go without food for three years and survive in "the hardest place, the intertidal zone," contrast with her own predicament. Indeed, Tuck's resilience makes her an indelible creation. Out of a tangible sense of desperation, Gilliss produces a triumph. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Squatting in the former home of her deceased grandmother on an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine, Tuck, along with her spirited young daughter, relies on the island for sustenance and answers, living moment-by-moment through the absurdity, beauty, paranoia and hunger that shoots through her life.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Tuck is slow to understand the circumstances that have driven her family to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine, the former home of her deceased grandmother where she once spent her childhood summers. Squatting there now, she must care for her spirited young daughter and scrape together enough money to leave before winter arrives--or before they are found out. Relying on the island for sustenance and answers--bladderwrack, rosehips, tenacious little green crabs; smells held by the damp walls of the house, field guides and religious texts, a failed invention left behind by her missing father--Tuck lives moment-by-moment through the absurdity, beauty, paranoia, and hunger that shoots through her life, as her husband struggles to detox"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize"Lungfish is a force of nature—a deeply felt marvel of a book that navigates grief, parenthood, and the mysteries of family with unrelenting power and precision. Here is a story about the islands we build and carry with us. Here is storytelling at its best." —Paul Yoon, author of Snow Hunters and Run Me to Earth Tuck is slow to understand the circumstances that have driven her family to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine, the former home of her deceased grandmother where she once spent her childhood summers. Squatting there now, she must care for her spirited young daughter and scrape together enough money to leave before winter arrives—or before they are found out.Relying on the island for sustenance and answers—bladderwrack, rosehips, tenacious little green crabs; smells held by the damp walls of the house, field guides and religious texts, a failed invention left behind by her missing father—Tuck lives moment-by-moment through the absurdity, beauty, paranoia, and hunger that shoots through her life, as her husband struggles to detox.Exquisitely written and formally daring, Lungfish tells the story of a woman grappling through the lies she has been told—and those she has told herself—to arrive at the truth of who she is and where she must go. Meghan Gilliss’s debut is a brilliant and heartbreaking novel about addiction, doubt, marriage, motherhood, and learning to see in the dark.