The Pisces : A Novel by Melissa Broder

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I fell asleep out there every night, tipsy on white wine, under the Venice stars, with my feet tucked under Dominic’s gut, belonging to nothing familiar.

Lucy is stunted, far too many years writing her dissertation about Sappho, the love between her and Jamie coming unbound, but surely he only wanted to put space between them? It’s not a for good break up, right? She does something a little crazy, thus ends up leaving for Venice beach for the summer and ends up housesitting for her sister. Not much is expected of her beyond caring for a diabetic dog, Dominic and attending group therapy to contend with her obsession with love. This group forbids ‘hooking up’, or getting your next ‘fix’ in the form of men, it is better to date yourself, know thyself and to thyself be true. Refuse the urge to fill yourself up with encounters and relationships, it will never be enough, that hungry beast inside of us all can’t be filled by another person. This wisdom falls on deaf ears, in Lucy’s case.

Lucy is having none of it, she has a dark unsettled thing dragging her down, so she decides to date because nothing revives her like the chase. Her encounters are meant to be erotic, but so many end up being ridiculously hilarious. Nothing romantic to see here, just painful prodding and playacting, and for what? That’s her problem, isn’t it? Trying to attain some intense feeling that seems always out of her reach. Playing the role of vixen, so she can feel the hunger and desire of men. Until she falls for a Merman, and things turn bizarre. Surely this will be erotica for other women, for me what worked was the funk in her head space. Even fantasies don’t stay within the bounds we create, run amok, take us down. It’s all about committing and choices in the end.

She meets other love addicts in her meetings, headed up by Dr. Jude. Of course Lucy can see how some of the women deceive themselves about the men they are trying to get over. Like many of us, her insights are spot on when it comes to those other lost losers. Too, it feels more like a ‘misery loves company’ club than support. She scoffs at the idea of self-love, and finds a connection with Claire. Claire’s chaos isn’t a different brand than Lucy’s, though she can point out her every flaw. Both women are reaching for unavailable love, gorging themselves on men, occupying their time with rejection and fleeting sexual encounters rather than examining what is wrong, broken and limping inside of them. Surely their sorrows cannot all be laid at the feet of men.

The funniest moments were Lucy’s liberated sexual encounters, because she isn’t doing it for her. She isn’t really thinking about her own pleasure. It’s just the men running the show. Grin and bear it… sure, but why? I think a lot of women, though not as many as who will admit it, have been there; doing things their partner wanted that did NOT feel good for them for various reasons, at different points in their life. It is cringeworthy and I had a visceral reaction to the bathroom romp as well as to the aftermath. As humourous as the novel is, there is serious dysfunction. You never win love by acting like a lunatic, and going on the attack, not love worth having at any rate. When she falls for Theo (the sexy Merman who seems to only want to pleasure her) she longs to attach herself to him like a barnacle. With Theo pulling her out of the dark pit of her love for Jamie, what will happen when he reaches out again? Jamie is an earthbound man, he is her history,  and he has legs!  Is any of this real, is love really salvation? How do you separate fiction from fact in any love affair? Is it necessary for Lucy to maintain a distance, in order to desire a man? What will Theo demand of her and more importantly what will Lucy demand of herself?

Just what is Theo? Why has he come in her life now? You have to read the story to find out.

Publication Date: May 1, 2018

Crown Publishing

Hogarth

 

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