“…people fell in love to find something in themselves that they’d had all along.”
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published: 6th June, 2017
Rate: 3 ⭐⭐⭐
An urgent, propulsive novel about a woman learning to negotiate her ailment and its various aftereffects via the simulacrum of a perfect romantic relationship
In Catherine Lacey’s ambitious second novel we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the “Girlfriend Experiment,” the brainchild of an eccentric actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship—even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles. Mary is hired as the “Emotional Girlfriend”—certainly better than the “Anger Girlfriend” or the “Maternal Girlfriend”—and is pulled into Kurt’s ego-driven and messy attempt at human connection.
Told in her signature spiraling prose, The Answers is full of the singular yet universal insights readers have come to expect from Lacey. It is a gorgeous hybrid of the plot- and the idea-driven novel that will leave you reeling.
Disclaimer: I got a copy of the book from the publisher for review but all thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own.
“Feelings are a kind of energy, a kind of matter. They cannot be created or destroyed.”
The Answers by Catherine Lacey sounded interesting when I read the blurb, but in as much as I liked the book, there are some parts that made no sense to me. The premise of the book is quite unique, well, it was at the time I was reading it (3 years ago) We have The Girlfriend Experiment – The Emotional Girlfriend, a Maternal Girlfriend, an Anger Girlfriend, a Mundanity Girlfriend, and an Intimacy Girlfriend. All these women have their debts and difficulties which led them to sign up for this experiment to earn some money.
Catherine Lacey’s prose is beautiful. I loved her writing so much and it’s the one thing that stood out for me. The Answers is heavily plot driven as we follow along Mary, our protagonist, who is the Emotional Girlfriend. Mary is so aloof, borderline annoying that she really made the book boring. The book tries to show how fleeting love is, which is depicted in both a heartbreaking and provocative.
There’s is so much unnecessary information in this book, and it was so confusing that I ended up struggling to finish it. There is a lot of introspection in this book, with the answers asked, but it felt overwhelming.
I didn’t hate The Answers but I didn’t like it either.