LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
“Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic – there is nothing like The Pisces. I have no idea how Broder does it, but I loved every dark and sublime page of it.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika's home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound's easy affection.
Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.
The debut novel by poet and essayist Broder (So Sad Today) is an alternately ribald and poignant fantasy about a relationship between a despondent graduate student and a merman. Lucy, stalled out after years of trying to write a dissertation on Sappho and melting down after her boyfriend breaks up with her, heads out from her desert campus to the beaches of southern California, where she dogsits her sister's affable hound. Despite joining a sex and love addiction support group, whose members Broder depicts with affectionate sarcasm, Lucy hooks up with one wildly unsuitable man after another. Then, sitting on a rock at the beach and feeling borderline suicidal, she meets a sensitive hunk whose only drawback is that he sports a tail instead of legs. Temporarily, at least, they work out their differences, with Lucy transporting him at night to her beach house in a little red wagon. Broder evokes the details of bad sex in wincingly naturalistic detail, and even if the good sex is a little more soft-focus, it makes for a satisfying fantasy. Broder makes her merman a more complex and believable character than most romantic heroes; her novel is a consistently funny and enjoyable ride.
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