Cosmogony

Stories

by Lucy Ives

List Price: $16.95
Paperback | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | 240 pages | ISBN 9781593765996

On Sale 03/09/2021

An energetic, witty collection of stories in which supernatural events meet the anomalies of everyday life: deception, infidelity, lost cats, cute memes, amateur pornography, and more.

A woman walks onto a tennis court. A woman has a conversation with a friend’s husband in a supermarket. A woman sees a painting at the home of an art collector. A woman goes on a run. A woman takes videos of a cat in a bodega. A woman answers a Craigslist ad to write erotic diaries for money.

Cosmogony takes accounts of so-called normal life and mines them for inconsistencies, cruelties, and delights. Incorporating a virtuosic range of styles and genres (Wikipedia entry, phone call, math equation, encounters with the supernatural, philosophies of time travel), these stories reveal how the narratives we tell ourselves and believe are inevitably constructed, offering a glimpse of the structures that underlie and apparently determine human existence–and which we ignore at our own peril.

This clever satire of writing programs exhibits, with persuasive bitterness, the damage wreaked by the idea that literature is competition.

 
The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice
1/7

Hilarious . . . A riotous success. Equal parts campus novel, buddy comedy and meditation on art-making under late capitalism, the novel is a hugely funny portrait of an egomaniac and his nebbish best friend.

 
The Washington Post
2/7

"Ives is either puncturing a myth about Iowa or advancing it; either option makes her book an indulgence . . . Ives’s interests point toward the philosophical, even the mystical. Loudermilk is not just funny; it becomes a layered exploration of the creative process . . . Ives approaches the students themselves with canny tenderness, and their work (which the novel excerpts, delightfully) with grave respect. Her own language is prickly and odd, with a distracted quality, as if she were trying to narrate while another voice is murmuring in her ear.

 
The New Yorker
3/7

In a literary critical flourish, [Ives] combines elements of libertine novels, realist novels, social novels, inherited wealth lit, postmodern novels, period pieces, poetry, satire, and revenge plots . . . A funny and cutting novel whose critiques of inherited wealth and its effects on culture in the aughts will keep being true until a full redistribution of wealth, beginning with reparations, occurs.

 
The Nation
4/7

"Readers expecting yet another referendum on the MFA will be pleasantly surprised to discover a much stranger and more ambitious book. In Loudermilk, Ives has taken a subject notoriously difficult to make interesting--the difficulty of writing itself--and narrativized it into an elaborate plot peopled by avatars of the types Sontag enumerated decades ago.

 
The Believer
5/7

Perfectly executed . . . Ives manages to subvert all expectations, and offers up one of the slyest, smartest looks at what it means to be a writer I’ve read; her every sentence sings, and they’re songs I’ll return to again and again.

 
NYLON
6/7

The nuanced subversion of tropes and full-throttle self-indulgence of Ives’s writing lend a manic glee to this slyly funny and deeply intelligent novel.

 
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
7/7

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