cover image Life Is Everywhere

Life Is Everywhere

Lucy Ives. Graywolf, $18 trade paper (472p) ISBN 978-1-64445-204-2

Ives (Cosmogeny) offers a discursive and funny Nabokovian story of academic stultification. Erin Adamo is a graduate student in New York City, where a recent scandal involving a relationship between one of her peers and faculty member Roger Herbsweet has rocked her school’s department. Meanwhile, Erin’s husband has just left her. After she accidentally locks herself out of her apartment, she takes refuge in the library. In her bag are three manuscripts—two short novels, authored by herself, and Herbsweet’s profile of the enigmatic Démocrite Charlus LeGouffre, an imagined 19th-century French novelist and child of a Parisian courtesan, each of which Ives presents in their entirety before cutting back to Erin and her terrible night in the library, which, prompted by Herbsweet’s text, sends her into a fit of mania. Holding together these layers are the theme of recursion and a hint of mystery. Erin’s second novel, about the end of a marriage, presages the end of her own (“She had not known, and yet she had,” Erin wrote of her protagonist). Meanwhile, in Herbsweet’s pages, Ives nails the stuffy remove of academic diction, almost to the point of pain. Brave readers will enjoy piecing together the puzzle. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Oct.)