cover image Loudermilk: Or, the Real Poet; Or, the Origin of the World

Loudermilk: Or, the Real Poet; Or, the Origin of the World

Lucy Ives. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-59376-390-9

In Ives’s clever novel (after Impossible Views of the World), it is 2003 and the title character is a brashly self-absorbed walking “boxer-briefs commercial” who concocts a brilliant plan for how to extend his college years of sleeping with hot coeds, with the added bonus of free money: graduate school. Specifically, the MFA in poetry program at the Seminars in Writing, obviously modeled after the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The only problem is that Loudermilk is—to put it kindly—a literal-minded idiot. Enter Harry Rego. Somewhat of an agoraphobe and a former child prodigy who enrolled in college at 15, Harry discovers his surprising penchant for poetry, which Loudermilk submits as his own. The poems get him into the Seminars and garner him praise from his professors and classmates, among them the haughty Anton Beans, an “emerging conceptual lyricist” who cannot believe he is being upstaged by someone as crass as Loudermilk. Harry’s growing resentment of Loudermilk, combined with Anton’s dogged attempts to unveil him, propels the novel to its final confrontation and reveal—settled by, of course, poetry. The nuanced subversion of tropes and full-throttle self-indulgence of Ives’s writing lend a manic glee to this slyly funny and deeply intelligent novel. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (May)