Life is everywhere A novel

Lucy Ives, 1980-

Book - 2022

"Everything that happened was repetition. But it was repetition with a difference. So she dragged along in a spiral, trusting to this form. Manhattan, 2014. It's an unseasonably warm Thursday in November and Erin Adamo is locked out of her apartment. Her husband has just left her and meanwhile her keys are in her coat, which she abandoned at her parents' apartment when she exited mid-dinner after her father-once again-lost control. Erin takes refuge in the library of the universit...y where she is a grad student. Her bag contains two manuscripts she's written, along with a monograph by a faculty member who's recently become embroiled in a bizarre scandal. Erin isn't sure what she's doing, but a small, mostly unconscious part of her knows: within these documents is a key she's needed all along. With unflinching precision, Life Is Everywhere captures emotional events that hover fitfully at the borders of visibility and intelligibility, showing how the past lives on, often secretly and at the expense of the present. It's about one person on one evening, reckoning with heartbreak-a story which, to be fully told, unexpectedly requires many others, from the history of botulism to an enigmatic surrealist prank. Multifarious, mischievous, and deeply humane, Ives's latest masterpiece rejoices in what a novel, and a self, can carry"--

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1st Floor FICTION/Ives Lucy Checked In
Psychological fiction
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press [2022]
Physical Description
452 pages ; 21 cm
Main Author
Lucy Ives, 1980- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Erin Adamo is a 30-year-old PhD candidate pursuing a degree in literature. She's also on the brink of divorce. Erin and Ben got married in their early twenties; now Ben resents Erin for being "difficult to live with," and she resents his drinking. One night, Erin locks herself out of their apartment. Instead of calling someone, she heads to the university library. Inside her bag are three pivotal texts which make up the latter chunk of the book: drafts of a novella and a novel, both written by Erin, and portions of a nonfiction work on Charlie LeGouffre, a nineteenth-century Parisian poet, written by a mid-scandal professor at her university. This pastiche novel boldly explores what drives the creative mind: genius, vanity, grief, love, and mental chaos. Ives (Loudermilk, 2019) is a brilliant, one-of-a-kind maestro, leading this complex orchestra with great aplomb. Inhabiting the voices of two fictional writers in addition to her own, she showcases a level of research and specificity uncommon in such entertaining fiction.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Ives (Cosmogeny) offers a discursive and funny Nabokovian story of academic stultification. Erin Adamo is a graduate student in New York City, where a recent scandal involving a relationship between one of her peers and faculty member Roger Herbsweet has rocked her school's department. Meanwhile, Erin's husband has just left her. After she accidentally locks herself out of her apartment, she takes refuge in the library. In her bag are three manuscripts--two short novels, authored by herself, and Herbsweet's profile of the enigmatic Démocrite Charlus LeGouffre, an imagined 19th-century French novelist and child of a Parisian courtesan, each of which Ives presents in their entirety before cutting back to Erin and her terrible night in the library, which, prompted by Herbsweet's text, sends her into a fit of mania. Holding together these layers are the theme of recursion and a hint of mystery. Erin's second novel, about the end of a marriage, presages the end of her own ("She had not known, and yet she had," Erin wrote of her protagonist). Meanwhile, in Herbsweet's pages, Ives nails the stuffy remove of academic diction, almost to the point of pain. Brave readers will enjoy piecing together the puzzle. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A story about writing stories--and related phenomena--from the author of Cosmogony (2021) and Loudermilk (2019). At some point during the latter half of his reign, Byzantine emperor Leo VI banned the production of blood sausage. "This edict," an omniscient--or maybe "omniscient"--narrator tells us, "is thought to be the earliest written evidence of an outbreak of botulism." Several pages later, we are introduced to Faith Ewer, a university professor who avails herself of Botox injections and has, thanks to a departmental scandal, been roped into co-teaching a class with Isobel Childe, a colleague she despises. Doctoral candidate Erin Adamo makes her first appearance--unnamed--on Page 33, and it takes a while to realize that she is not only the protagonist of this text, but also the author of several of its precariously connected parts. Erin's early invisibility makes sense when we realize that she is a woman in the process of falling apart and--through reading and writing--re-creating herself. Erin has a history of trauma that makes her connection to reality rather tenuous, and the discovery that her husband, Ben, has been prodigiously unfaithful is one more emotional blow than she can easily absorb. Late in the text, there's a rejection letter from an agent who doesn't feel like she can sell Erin's novel or novella--both of which are part of Ives' novel. "As observant and unique and refreshingly strange as these narratives are, they are still difficult for the reader to connect to on an emotional level, in part because the protagonists' troubling lack of agency is never fully explained." Erin herself understands that readers want protagonists who overcome conflict. Her protagonists do not, and neither does she. This is to say that the agent's critique of Erin's work--and Erin's own critique of her work--is a critique of Ives' work. To invoke the word metanarrative doesn't really begin to describe what the author is doing here--at least in part because readers might reasonably debate what the "narrative" is. Ives has created a novel in which the main character finds release, if not catharsis, in a novella written by another author who is also Ives' creation. Erin decides to read the novella after reading a scholarly article about the novella which refers to a monograph about the novella's author that Erin has also read. All of these documents--the novella, the article, the monograph--have, of course, been composed by Ives. This work is a commentary on itself, which should feel claustrophobic, but, by the end, readers might come away with the sense that Erin may have escaped this enchanted circle. Not the kind of resolution most readers crave, perhaps, but it's something. A novel--in the loosest sense of the term--for people who love footnotes. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.