cover image Animals Eat Each Other

Animals Eat Each Other

Elle Nash. Dzanc (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-938604-43-0

Nash’s brilliant and visceral debut novel follows a young woman’s increasingly complicated relationship with a young couple. The 19-year-old narrator, unnamed at first, has just finished high school and is working at a RadioShack in Colorado Springs. She has no plans for the future and lives with her largely absent mother, from whom she steals painkillers. One day at work, she meets Matt and Frankie, and the three bond over tattoos and metal music. From there, the relationship progresses quickly: Frankie names the narrator Lilith, and Matt and Lilith begin having sex while Frankie watches. Lilith simultaneously feels a sense of belonging and a sense of disembodiment: “I started to be it, started to be Lilith, whoever she was. Something about me slipped away, a letting go.... I could only see him and Frankie, myself an object to bring them pleasure. Benign neglect, how peonies thrive.” But the same recklessness that draws the three together eventually forges cracks in their shared relationship; Frankie is controlling, and Lilith’s forceful desire fuels the fire: “I wanted to know what it would be like to carry a bad habit all the way through.” Nash writes with psychological precision, capturing Lilith’s volatile shifts between directionless frustration, self-destructiveness, ambivalence, and vulnerable need. This is a complex, impressive exploration of obsession and desire that gives new meaning to the famous quote often attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Everything is about sex, except sex, which is about power.” (Apr.)