Saturday, June 2, 2018

*Review* Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives

Genre: Mystery
Published: August 1, 2017
Pages: 304

A witty, urbane, and sometimes shocking debut novel, set in a hallowed New York museum, in which a co-worker's disappearance and a mysterious map change a life forever.

Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan's renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with "a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist" is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt's current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world's water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that's making the rounds, and her mother--the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro--wants to have lunch. It's almost more than she can overanalyze.

But the appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella--a dogged expert in American graphics and fluidomanie (don't ask)--on an all-consuming research mission. As she teases out the links between a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum's colorful early benefactors, she discovers the unbearable secret that Paul's been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life. 

Pulsing with neurotic humor and dagger-sharp prose, Impossible Views of the World is a dazzling debut novel about how to make it through your early thirties with your brain and heart intact.

I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read Program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review. 

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I was so intrigued by the blurb that I used points to guarantee my copy. Unfortunately, the narration style just did not work for me and I kind of regret that I didn't DNF this book. I could have saved myself several hours of slogging through a book that I was not enjoying, but apparently I'm a masochist or I just take the phrase "finish what you start" too much to heart with everything. 

The main character reminded me a little bit of myself during my teen years, when I thought it was fun to use big words that I knew most of my friends wouldn't be familiar with (this was the same phase when I was doing things like reading War & Peace so I could brag about having read it. Seriously, it was the height of intellectual snobbery from a child who grew up in the Midwest). But at the same time, I often didn't understand the slang this woman was using, which is perplexing because we are basically the same age. This story is not timeless, it has several specific dates and a timeline that indicates that this woman and I would have attended high school at the same time. The only explanation for this discrepancy is that maybe New Yorker's use extra slang that my Midwestern upbringing didn't prepare me for, but I have a hard time accepting that myself. 

Another issue I had with the book is that Stella, the main character, seemed to overshare, a lot. There was a whole lot of information about her personal relationships that just didn't seem relevant to the story, at least not what I was expecting from the story based on the blurb. 

Ultimately, there were just a lot of elements that didn't click for me, so I give this book 1.8765748 stars. - Katie 

Lucy Ives was born in New York City and received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University. She is the author of ANAMNESIS (Slope Editions, 2009), NINETIES (Tea Party Republicans Press, 2013; Little A, 2015), ORANGE ROSES (Ahsahta Press, 2013), THE WORLDKILLERS (SplitLevel Texts, 2014), THE HERMIT (Song Cave, 2016), and the forthcoming IMPOSSIBLE VIEWS OF THE WORLD (Penguin Press, 2017). For five years an editor of Triple Canopy, Ives continues to live in New York and currently teaches at the Pratt Institute.

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