Book cover
The Pisces
Melissa Broder

This book was recommended effusively by an author I admire, Lulu Miller. So it went on my list. Broder is an exquisite writer, and I love a first-person narrative that goes deep, so it’s no surprise I loved this. It’s a book that will challenge you, or at least it challenged me. First, the protagonist, Lucy, is deeply unlikable from the start. She’s judgemental, self-absorbed, and dare I say it, kind of a bitch. But Broder handles her character deftly, and quickly you can’t help but root for her. It’s also a very sexually explicit book, which is not something I’m used to. I don’t think its sexual like a romance novel (although admittedly I’ve never read one). The sex talk is frank, crass, and almost constant, but it is never titillating. Broder uses sex as a mechanism to explore distance and closeness, self-love and desperation, and even suicidal ideation. In her hands, all the dicks and clits and butt-stuff reveal character at a subconscious level. It is very effective.

I won’t spoil it but there’s a passage near the end where Lucy’s talking to the palm trees that I found deeply redemptive and moving. And of course, I came away feeling like I understand our bitchy hero a little better, and I just want the best for her, whatever that may be.

I should add the book is a little mad, in the very best way. It’s a darkly humorous, dangerous, fast, engrossing, moving story. And again, exquisitely written. I want to recommend it to my daughters. I only hope it won’t make them feel too awkward to get that recommendation from prudish old dad. Yikes.