cover image Housemates


Emma Copley Eisenberg. Hogarth, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-24223-0

Two queer artists explore pastoral Pennsylvania in the sumptuous if rambling latest from Eisenberg (The Third Rainbow Girl). Things kick off when Bernie Abbott, a barista and photographer, moves into a house in Philadelphia with four roommates including Leah McCausland, a media studies PhD candidate who is nonbinary. She befriends Leah and is turned on by the sounds of her sexual escapades through a shared wall. When Bernie learns her old professor, the late photographer Daniel Dunn, has bequeathed her his old cameras, plates, and negatives, she wants to reject the offer—Dunn was accused of sexual assault—but Leah changes her mind: “He’s dead.... The slate is wiped blank.” Then Leah receives a grant from her program and enlists Bernie’s collaboration on a vaguely sketched project (“I just want to drive around and look at things and I’d write things down and you’d photograph them”). Bernie’s mission to pick up Dunn’s belongings at his home in rural Mifflin County gives the pair a destination. En route, they encounter rebellious cigarette-smoking Amish teens outside a country buffet and smarmy men lurking around their motel, and their partnership becomes not just creative but romantic. The story starts at a crawl, but once Eisenberg revs the engine, she reaches luminous heights. Readers will count themselves lucky to go along for the ride. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (May)