NAMED A TOP 10 NOVEL OF 2017 BY THE WALL STREET JOURNAL AND VOGUE, A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY ESQUIRE, HUFFINGTON POST, POP SUGAR, ELECTRIC LITERATURE AND KIRKUS, AND A 2017 NPR GREAT READ. ONE OF DWIGHT GARNER'S TOP BOOKS OF 2017 IN THE NEW YORK TIMES.
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE AND A FINALIST FOR THE CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS FICTION AWARD.
"Like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, [The Answers] is also a novel about a subjugated woman, in this case not to a totalitarian theocracy but to subtler forces its heroine is only beginning to understand and fears she is complicit with." --Dwight Garner, New York Times
Mary Parsons is broke. Dead broke, really: between an onslaught of medical bills and a mountain of credit card debt, she has been pushed to the brink. Hounded by bill collectors and still plagued by the painful and bizarre symptoms that doctors couldn’t diagnose, Mary seeks relief from a holistic treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia—PAKing, for short. Miraculously, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive. Like so many young adults trying to make ends meet in New York City, Mary scours Craigslist and bulletin boards for a second job, and eventually lands an interview for a high-paying gig that’s even stranger than her symptoms or the New Agey PAKing.
Mary’s new job title is Emotional Girlfriend in the “Girlfriend Experiment”—the brainchild of a wealthy and infamous actor, Kurt Sky, who has hired a team of biotech researchers to solve the problem of how to build and maintain the perfect romantic relationship, casting himself as the experiment’s only constant. Around Kurt, several women orbit as his girlfriends with specific functions. There’s a Maternal Girlfriend who folds his laundry, an Anger Girlfriend who fights with him, a Mundanity Girlfriend who just hangs around his loft, and a whole team of girlfriends to take care of Intimacy. With so little to lose, Mary falls headfirst into Kurt’s messy, ego-driven simulacrum of human connection.
Told in Catherine Lacey’s signature spiraling, hypnotic prose, The Answers is both a mesmerizing dive into the depths of one woman’s psyche and a critical look at the conventions and institutions that infiltrate our most personal, private moments. As Mary struggles to understand herself—her body, her city, the trials of her past, the uncertainty of her future—the reader must confront the impossible questions that fuel Catherine Lacey’s work: How do you measure love? Can you truly know someone else? Do we even know ourselves? And listen for Lacey’s uncanny answers.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Mary Parsons, the heroine of Catherine Lacey’s strange and engrossing novel is like an untethered balloon. Drifting through her menial job and jostled by painful memories and debilitating physical ailments, Mary latches onto an extremely suspect, very lucrative work opportunity involving an A-list actor. The Answers is a page-turning story that captures that uncomfortable feeling of sleepwalking through life—and the sharp sting of solitude and disconnection.
In Lacey's (Nobody Is Ever Missing) remarkable novel, Mary has "spent a year suffering undiagnosable illnesses" when she finds a strange treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, which immediately helps. The problem is Mary's broke, so she answers a high-paying Craigslist ad and soon ends up participating in berfamous actor Kurt Sky's so-called Girlfriend Experiment. The goal of the experiment is to find out whether a perfect relationship can be achieved if each of many girlfriends serves a single role for Kurt. As the Emotional Girlfriend, Mary is to listen "to Kurt talk while remaining fully engaged by asking questions," to send texts to him, and to eventually cry in front of him. She is told "sexual intimacy will not be expected of the Emotional Girlfriend" since Kurt has the Intimacy Team for that purpose. While Kurt becomes more and more intrigued by the "totally unpretentious" Mary in his attempt to find out "How to best love?", the truth of the experiment comes to light. The novel examines the unreliability of our own bodies and emotions (at one point, the experiment's sensors mistakenly register Mary's feeling of obligation as a feeling of love), as well as our detachment from others that dark gap between what someone does and what someone actually means to do. Mary is trying to trust her body through Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, while Kurt's Anger Girlfriend, Ashley, one of the best characters in the novel, only trusts her anger: her hate is "gleeful and all-consuming and an unlikely companion through her days." Lacey displays an exceptional ability to articulate the elusiveness of knowing others, as well as the desire to find meaning and trust within.
She understands human nature
I loved this book, I had no clue where it was going and truly at the end I was still kind of like WOW OK, it kind of just leaves you just like that and it’s over. Sometimes that’s annoying! But with this it felt correct per the web of a story she wove. Its hard to really describe what I just read, other than that as a person who believes in the other and that feelings / existence / love are all kind of levels of energy that we can sale into if we steer the boat correctly, I love this book very much. It’s probably, mostly about loneliness.
Thx by a dhthuxxgyzrx