cover image My First Book

My First Book

Honor Levy. Penguin Press, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-65653-2

The stories in Levy’s crackling debut collection gleefully mix high and low culture and brim with youthful wisdom. The characters in “Love Story” are sketched with terms from ancient history and the internet: “He was in his fall of Rome era. She was serving sixth and final mass extinction realness. His face was a marble statue. Her face was an anime waifu.” In “Z Was for Zoomer,” which is framed as a glossary of Gen Z slang (“Fail” means “to mess up big time... to get hurt, to fall, to break, to destroy”), Levy expresses nostalgia for a time before the niche humor of memes (“We even make memes about this, our failure to understand anything but memes”). “Pillow Angels” chronicles the exploits of four high school best friends in Los Angeles who get nose jobs, use cocaine, and turn a bathroom into a “Roman vomitorium.” Some of the cultural descriptions feel perfunctory, but Levy shines when capturing her characters’ existential dread, as in “Written by Sad Girl in the Third Person”: “She wants a cigarette or an agent... or peace in the Middle East... or to be no one or to be someone.” Levy announces herself as an astute interpreter of Zoomer culture. Agents: Abbie Walters and Mollie Glick, CAA. (May)