cover image Nine Island

Nine Island

Jane Alison. Catapult (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-936787-12-8

The narrator of Alison’s (The Love-Artist) wonderful novel, J, lives alone in the paradise of a Miami Beach high-rise condo. J spends most of her days going to the pool, working on translating (or “transmuting”) Ovid’s stories, sitting on her balcony, and watching her neighbors in a building across the way. She’s been contacting some of her various lovers from the past, whom she refers to as “Sir Gold,” “The Devil,” and other monikers—but none of them lead to anything serious. As she contemplates retiring from love for good, she cares for her aging cat, Buster, and a duck stranded on a traffic median. She befriends her enigmatic and troubled neighbors on the floor above her and becomes further and further entangled with them. Maybe it’s due to the oppressive heat or her active imagination, but Ovid and Miami begin to blur: she sees Ovid’s girls (as the narrator refers to them) in the trees, people who transform, and symbols everywhere. J faces a certain ennui: she is alone, she lacks a mate, yet her inner life is a vivid struggle to find happiness, to connect with the world outside her apartment. Yet how can she live without pleasure? With echoes of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy and Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, the Sea, Alison has forged a haunting and emotionally precise portrait, a beautiful reminder that solitude does not equal loneliness. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Sept.)