Acts of Service
A “bold and unflinchingly sexy” (Vogue) debut novel about a young woman who follows her desires into a world of pleasure, decadence, and privilege, unraveling everything she thought she knew about sex . . . and herself.
“One of the most entertaining books about sex I’ve ever read . . . The perfect read for fans of Raven Leilani and Ottessa Moshfegh, this is a book that will have people talking.”—BuzzFeed
“A sex masterpiece.”—The Guardian
A Kaia Gerber Book Club Pick • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New Yorker and The Hollywood Reporter
“Anytime I want, I can forsake this dinner party and jump into real life.”—Eve Babitz
Eve has an adoring girlfriend, an impulsive streak, and a secret fear that she’s wasting her brief youth with just one person. So one evening she posts some nudes online. This is how Eve meets Olivia, and through Olivia the charismatic Nathan. Despite her better instincts, the three soon begin a relationship—one that disturbs Eve as much as it enthralls her.
As each act of their complicated, three-way affair unfolds across a cold and glittering New York, Eve is forced to confront the questions that most consume her: What do we bring to sex? What does it reveal of ourselves, and one another? And how do we reconcile what we want with what we think we should want?
In the way only great fiction can, Acts of Service takes between its teeth the contradictions written all over our ideas of sex and sexuality. At once juicy and intellectually challenging, sacred and profane, Lillian Fishman’s riveting debut is bold, unabashed, and required reading of the most pleasurable sort.
Fishman's alluring if punctilious debut poses questions about sex, sexuality, and power via the story of a young woman's exploration of desire. Eve, 27, a bisexual waitress living in New York City who had previously chosen to sleep exclusively with women, posts some nudes on an online message board without her girlfriend's knowledge. When a woman named Olivia messages her and asks her to meet up, Eve does, and she is soon embroiled in a torrid affair with the upper-class Olivia and Nathan, a tall, hetero, 30-something investment banker Olivia was already sleeping with, who gets off (and gets them off) on erotic passages from his book collection. Eve begins to question the power dynamics of the threesome after she learns that Olivia works for Nathan; she also wonders about the politics of her heterosexual lust: "So I'm supposed to think I can't damage myself, that things don't hurt me, if I choose them, if I see them clearly? Isn't that just the deepest submission to power?" The prose is smooth and smart, and the sex scenes elicit maximum titillation, but the result, which conforms to contemporary sub-dom lifestyle dynamics as the narrator explores her conflicting desires, ultimately feels more tame than transgressive. Fishman has a great deal of talent, though this feels a lot like 50 Shades of Grey for the Ivy League set.