Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Melissa Broder's The Pisces

...I was not about to learn to love myself here. It was as though they were each in competition with the other to see who could be grossest while simultaneously loving themselves the most. Is that what it meant to love yourself? To be repellent?

I've wanted to read this book since its release and it was just as delightful and as weird as I anticipated.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Hogarth Press, 2018
Copy from the library

It feels like the press about this book centers on the merperson sex and grossout earthiness which is not actually at the center of this read. (And there was far less gross body stuff than I feared; I was thinking it'd be Otessa Moshfegh level.)

I read this in about three hours so I was surprised with the depth Broder evoked: duality, absence, the stories we tell ourselves when the narrative thread of our lives is unclear, obsession, imagination.

Our heroine Lucy should be unlikable -- she doesn't do herself any favors -- but I found her endearing in her own pathetic way. A grad student stalled out after the end of a longterm relationship, Lucy can't help being her own worst enemy. She has court mandated group therapy that she loathes; she tries desperately to be happy with herself by getting back into dating. Perhaps because she doesn't wallow in her self pity, even when she does wallow, we can see the tragedy ahead of her well before she does. I felt for her and that awful pain of life and it's messy obstacles.

Eventually Lucy meets a merman and it's just as magical and mundane as you'd imagine. I suppose this pushes the novel into magical realism territory, but Theo the merman is so otherwise realistic the plight he created really caught me and I can't shake it (I spoil it on GoodReads so if you're curious, you can click there).

How do we fill the empty hunger in us for partnership, feeling valued -- especially when we're supposed to be satisfied without anyone?


  1. I've been on the fence with this book since it came out. You've upped my interest. I'll have to see if I still have a copy of it.

    1. It's so weird but such intriguing. And a surprisingly chilling end. Hope you love it if you do read it!