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Writers & Lovers: A Novel

Writers & Lovers: A Novel

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Writers & Lovers: A Novel

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (252 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
328 pagine
5 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 3, 2020
ISBN:
9780802148551
Formato:
Libro

Nota del redattore

Editor’s pick…

Wryly funny, heartbreakingly sad, and surprisingly romantic. The protagonist, Casey, is a smart but stuck 30-something who’s waiting tables, drowning in debt, and struggling to write a novel she’s been working on for six years. She has a sharp wit and terrific eye for details, which is put to use in puncturing the social absurdities of wealthy WASPs and broke artists in equal measure.

Descrizione

From Scribd: About the Book

Coming off a sordid love affair and grieving the death of her mother, Casey Peabody is renting a small room and working as a waitress in Harvard Square. While she tries to collect herself and focus on the book she’s been writing for six years, she finds herself falling for two very different men. As her world crumbles around her, she clings to the last years of her 30s and the determination to live the creative life. Without a plan and facing a pile of letters inviting her to weddings and debt collectors, Casey struggles with her concept of herself as an artist and woman.

This instant New York Times bestseller paints the portrait of a woman working to heal relationships and deal with the existential crisis that is becoming her life. Written with Lily King’s signature humor and wit, and appealing to fans of Lauren Groff and Sally Rooney, the book offers a harsh and exhilarating look at the journey to become an artist, to deal with grief, and to move from one phase of life to another.

Featured on several booklists and following in the footsteps of King’s critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Writers & Lovers is another beautiful story with plenty of heart and wisdom.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 3, 2020
ISBN:
9780802148551
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Lily King is the author of the novels The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, Father of the Rain, and Euphoria, which is inspired by the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead. King is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and has twice won both the Maine Fiction Award and the New England Book Award. She lives with her husband and children in Maine.


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Anteprima del libro

Writers & Lovers - Lily King

Hilderbrand

Writers

& Lovers

Also by Lily King

The English Teacher

The Pleasing Hour

Father of the Rain

Euphoria

Writers

& Lovers

A NOVEL

Lily King

Grove Press

New York

Copyright © 2020 by Lily King

Worms, Eggs, Sperm, and Other Thoughts on Writing © 2021 by Lily King

Geese illustrations by Calla King-Clements

Cover design by Kelly Winton

Cover artwork by Paul Wonner

Dutch Still Life with Lemon Tart and Engagement Calendar, 1979.

Collection SFMOMA, Charles H. Land Family Foundation Fund © Estate ofPaul Wonner and William Theophilus Brown, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, should send inquiries to Grove Atlantic, 154 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011 or permissions@groveatlantic.com.

Printed in the United States of America

First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition: March 2020

First Grove Atlantic paperback edition: February 2021

This book was set in 11.5-pt. Bembo by Alpha Design & Composition of Pittsfield, NH

ISBN 978-0-8021-4854-4

eISBN 978-0-8021-4855-1

Grove Press

an imprint of Grove Atlantic

154 West 14th Street

New York, NY 10011

Distributed by Publishers Group West

groveatlantic.com

For my sister, Lisa, with love and gratitude

I have a pact with myself not to think about money in the morning. I’m like a teenager trying not to think about sex. But I’m also trying not to think about sex. Or Luke. Or death. Which means not thinking about my mother, who died on vacation last winter. There are so many things I can’t think about in order to write in the morning.

Adam, my landlord, watches me walk his dog. He leans against his Benz in a suit and sparkling shoes as I come back up the driveway. He’s needy in the morning. Everyone is, I suppose. He enjoys his contrast to me in my sweats and untamed hair.

When the dog and I are closer he says, ‘You’re up early.’

I’m always up early. ‘So are you.’

‘Meeting with the judge at the courthouse at seven sharp.’

Admire me. Admire me. Admire judge and courthouse and seven sharp.

‘Somebody’s gotta do it.’ I don’t like myself around Adam. I don’t think he wants me to. I let the dog yank me a few steps past him toward a squirrel squeezing through some slats at the side of his big house.

‘So,’ he says, unwilling to let me get too far away. ‘How’s the novel?’ He says it like I made the word up myself. He’s still leaning against his car and turning only his head in my direction, as if he likes his pose too much to undo it.

‘It’s all right.’ The bees in my chest stir. A few creep down the inside of my arm. One conversation can destroy my whole morning. ‘I’ve got to get back to it. Short day. Working a double.’

I pull the dog up Adam’s back porch, unhook the leash, nudge him through the door, and drop quickly back down the steps.

‘How many pages you got now?’

‘Couple of hundred, maybe.’ I don’t stop moving. I’m halfway to my room at the side of his garage.

‘You know,’ he says, pushing himself off his car, waiting for my full attention. ‘I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say.’

I sit at my desk and stare at the sentences I wrote before walking the dog. I don’t remember them. I don’t remember putting them down. I’m so tired. I look at the green digits on the clock radio. Less than three hours before I have to dress for my lunch shift.

Adam went to college with my older brother, Caleb—in fact, I think Caleb was a little in love with him back then—and for this he gives me a break in the rent. He shaves off a bit more for walking his dog in the morning. The room used to be a potting shed and still has a loam and rotting leaves smell. There’s just enough space for a twin mattress, desk and chair, and hot plate, and toaster oven in the bathroom. I set the kettle back on the burner for another cup of black tea.

I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse.

At nine thirty I get up from the chair and scrub at the sirloin and blackberry stains on my white pleated shirt, iron it dry on the desk, slip it on a hanger, and thread the hook of the hanger through the loop at the top of my backpack. I put on my black work pants and a T-shirt, pull my hair into a ponytail, and slide on the backpack.

I wheel my bike out of the garage backward. It barely fits because of all the crap Adam has in here: old strollers, high chairs, bouncy seats, mattresses, bureaus, skis, skateboards, beach chairs, tiki torches, foosball. His ex-wife’s red minivan takes up the rest of the space. She left it behind along with everything else except the kids when she moved to Hawaii last year.

‘A good car go to waste like that,’ the cleaning lady said one day when she was looking for a hose. Her name is Oli, she’s from Trinidad, and she saves things like the plastic scoops from laundry detergent boxes to send back home. That garage makes Oli crazy.

I ride down Carlton Street, run the red at Beacon, and head up to Comm. Ave. Traffic thunders past. I slide forward, off the bike seat, and wait with a growing pileup of students for the light to change. A few of them admire my ride. It’s an old banana bike I found at a dump in Rhode Island in May. Luke and I fixed it up, put on a new greased-up chain, tightened the brake cables, and shimmied the rusty seat shaft until it slid up to my height. The gearshift is built into the cross bar, which makes it feel more powerful than it is, as if there’s a secret engine somewhere. I like the whole motorcycle feel of it, with the raised vertical handlebars and the long, quilted seat and the tall bar in back I lean against while coasting. I didn’t have a banana bike as a kid, but my best friend did and we used to swap bikes for days at a time. These BU students, they’re too young to have ridden a banana bike. It’s strange, to not be the youngest kind of adult anymore. I’m thirty-one now, and my mother is dead.

The light changes, and I get back on the seat, cross the six lanes of Comm. Ave. and pump up and over the BU Bridge to the Cambridge side of the Charles River. Sometimes I don’t make it to the bridge before cracking. Sometimes it starts on the bridge. But today I’m okay. Today I’m holding it together. I glide down onto the sidewalk on the water side of Memorial Drive. It’s high summer, and the river seems tired. Along its banks a frothy white scum pushes against the reeds. It looks like the white gunk that collected in the corners of Paco’s mother’s mouth by the end of a long day of her incessant complaining in the kitchen. At least I don’t live there anymore. Even Adam’s potting shed is better than that apartment outside Barcelona. I cross at River Street and Western Ave. and veer off the concrete onto the dirt path that runs close to the river’s edge. I’m all right. I’m still all right, until I see the geese.

They’re in their spot near the base of the footbridge, twenty maybe thirty of them, fussing about, torquing their necks and thrusting their beaks into their own feathers or the feathers of others or at the few remaining tufts of grass in the dirt. Their sounds grow louder as I get closer, grunts and mutterings and indignant squawks. They’re used to interruptions on their path and move as little as possible to get out of my way, some pretending to nip at my ankles as I pedal through, a few letting their butt feathers swish through my spokes. Only the hysterical ones bolt for the water, shrieking as if under attack.

I love these geese. They make my chest tight and full and help me believe that things will be all right again, that I will pass through this time as I have passed through other times, that the vast and threatening blank ahead of me is a mere specter, that life is lighter and more playful than I’m giving it credit for. But right on the heels of that feeling, that suspicion that all is not yet lost, comes the urge to tell my mother, tell her that I am okay today, that I have felt something close to happiness, that I might still be capable of feeling happy. She will want to know that. But I can’t tell her. That’s the wall I always slam into on a good morning like this. My mother will be worrying about me, and I can’t tell her that I’m okay.

The geese don’t care that I’m crying again. They’re used to it. They chortle and squall and cover up the sounds I make. A runner approaches and veers up off the path, sensing I don’t see her. The geese thin out by the big boathouse. At the Larz Anderson Bridge, I turn right, up JFK toward Harvard Square.

It’s a purging of sorts, that ride, and usually lasts me a few hours.

Iris is on the third floor of a building owned by a Harvard social club, which began renting out the space a decade ago to pay off nearly a hundred thousand dollars in back taxes. There aren’t many students around in the summer, and they have a separate entrance on the other side of the big brick mansion, but I hear a few of them rehearsing sometimes. They have their own theater where they put on plays in which men dress up as women and their own a cappella group that flashes in and out of the building wearing tuxes day and night.

I lock my bike to the metal post of a parking sign and climb the granite steps and open the big door. Tony, one of the headwaiters, is already halfway up the first flight, his dry cleaning draped over his arm. He gets all the good shifts, so he can afford to have his uniform professionally cleaned. It’s a grand staircase, covered with a greasy beer-stained carpet that must have once been a plush crimson. I let Tony reach the top and circle around to the next set of stairs before I start up. I pass the portraits of the presidents who have been members of the club: Adams, Adams, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. The second flight is narrower. Tony is moving slowly, still only halfway up. I slow even more. The light from the top of the stairs disappears. Gory is coming down.

‘Tony, my man,’ he shouts. ‘How’s it hanging?’

‘Long, loose, and full of juice.’

Gory cackles. The staircase shakes as he comes toward me.

‘You’re late, girl.’

I’m not. It’s what he says to women instead of a greeting. I don’t think he knows my name.

I feel the stair I’m on sink when he passes me.

‘Busy night ahead. One eighty-eight on the books,’ he says over his shoulder. Does he think it’s the afternoon already? ‘And the on-call just called in sick.’

The on-call is Harry, my only friend at Iris. He isn’t sick, though. He’s on his way to Provincetown with the new busboy.

‘Strap on your long iron,’ he says.

‘Never leave home without it,’ I say.

Somehow in my interview he wheedled the golf stuff out of me. He plays croquet, it turned out. Not at garden parties but professionally, competitively. He’s supposedly one of the best croquet players in the country. He opened Iris after a big win.

Below me, he sniffs loudly three times, hacks it up, swallows, gasps, and goes out into the street with all the cash from last night in a pouch with CAMBRIDGE SAVINGS BANK in big letters. Someone has pressed a Post-it to his back that says: ‘Mug Me.’

‘Casey fucking Kasem,’ Dana says when I get to the top of the stairs. ‘No one’s fired you yet?’ She’s bent over Fabiana’s hostess podium, making the seating chart. It’s barely legible and guaranteed to be unfair.

I go down the hall to the bathroom and change into my white shirt and wrangle my hair into the required high tight bun. It makes my head hurt. When I come back, Dana and Tony are moving the tables around, putting the large parties in their sections, making sure everything is to their advantage, the big tables, the regulars, the restaurant’s investors who don’t pay but tip astronomically. I don’t know if they’re friends outside of the building, but they work every shift together like a pair of evil skaters, setting each other up for another dastardly deed, then preening around the room when it comes off. They definitely aren’t lovers. Dana doesn’t like to be touched—she practically broke the new busboy’s arm when she said she had a crick and he reached up to knead her neck with his thumb—and Tony never stops talking about his girlfriend, though he paws at all the male waiters through every shift. They have Gory and Marcus, the manager, completely snowed or at least compromised. Harry and I suspect it’s the drugs that come through Tony’s brother, a dealer who is in and out of jail and who Tony talks about only when he’s wasted, demanding vows of silence as if he’s never told you before. We call Dana and Tony the Twisted Sister and try to stay out of their path.

‘You’ve just taken two tables out of my section,’ Yasmin says.

‘We have two eight-tops,’ Tony says.

‘Well use your own bloody tables. These are mine, you fucks.’ Yasmin was born in Eritrea and raised in Delaware, but she’s read a lot of Martin Amis and Roddy Doyle. Unfortunately she doesn’t stand a chance against the Twisted Sister.

Before I can band with Yasmin, Dana points a finger at me. ‘Go get the flowers, Casey Kasem.’

She and Tony are the headwaiters. You have to do what they say.

Lunch is amateur hour. Lunch is for the new hires and the old workhorses working doubles, working as many hours as management will give them. I’ve waited tables since I was eighteen, so I went from new server to workhorse in six weeks. The money at lunch is crap compared to dinner unless you get a group of lawyers or biotech goons celebrating something with rounds of martinis that loosen the bills from their wallets. The dining room is filled with sunlight, which feels unnatural and changes all the colors. I prefer dusk and the windows slowly blackening, the soft orange light from the gilt sconces that masks the grease stains on the tablecloths and the calcium spots we might have missed on the wineglasses. At lunch we squint in the blue daylight. Customers ask for coffee as soon as they sit down. You can actually hear the music Mia, the lunch bartender, is playing. It’s usually Dave Matthews. Mia is obsessed with Dave Matthews. Gory is often sober and Marcus is mellow, doing whatever he does in his office and leaving us alone. Everything at lunch is backward.

But it’s fast. I get slammed with three deuces and a five-top before the clock in Harvard Yard strikes noon. There isn’t time for thought. You are like a tennis ball knocked from the front of the house to the back over and over until your tables are gone and it’s over and you’re sitting at a calculator adding up your credit card gratuities and tipping out the bartender and the bussers. The door is locked again, Mia is blasting ‘Crash Into Me,’ and after all the tables are broken down, glasses polished, and silverware rolled for tomorrow’s lunch, you have an hour in the Square before you clock back in for dinner.

I go to my bank next to the Coop. There’s a line. Only one teller. LINCOLN LUGG, the brass plate reads. My stepbrothers used to call poop Lincoln Logs. The youngest one used to pull me into the bathroom to show me how long he could make them. Sometimes we all went in there to look. If I ever see a therapist to talk about my childhood and the therapist asks me to remember a happy moment with my father and Ann, I’ll talk about the time we all gathered round to gaze at one of Charlie’s abnormally large Lincoln Logs.

Lincoln Lugg doesn’t like my expression of amusement when I step up to the counter. Some people are like that. They think anyone’s amusement must be at their expense.

I put my wad of cash in front of him. He doesn’t like that, either. You’d think tellers could be happy for you, especially after you’d graduated to dinner shifts and doubles and had $661 to put in your account.

‘You can use the ATM for deposits, you know,’ he says, picking up the money by the tips of his fingers. He doesn’t enjoy touching money? Who doesn’t enjoy touching money?

‘I know, but it’s cash and I just—’

‘No one is going to steal the cash once it’s inside the machine.’

‘I just want to make sure it goes into my account and not someone else’s.’

‘We have a strictly regulated systemized protocol. And it’s all recorded on videotape. This, what you are doing right here, is much less secure.’

‘I’m just happy to be depositing this money. Please don’t rain on my picnic. This money is not even going to be able to take a short nap before it is sucked out by federal loan sharks, so just let me enjoy it, okay?’

Lincoln Lugg is counting my money with his lips and does not respond.

I’m in debt. I’m in so much debt that even if Marcus gave me every lunch and dinner shift he had, I could not get out from under it. My loans for college and grad school all went into default when I was in Spain, and when I came back I learned that the penalties, fees, and collection costs had nearly doubled the original amount I owed. All I can do now is manage it, pay the minimums until—and this is the thing—until what? Until when? There’s no answer. That’s part of my looming blank specter.

After my encounter with Lincoln Lugg, I weep on a bench outside the Unitarian church. I do it somewhat discreetly, without noise, but I can no longer stop tears from drizzling down my face when the mood strikes.

I walk to Salvatore’s Foreign Books on Mount Auburn Street. I worked there six years ago, in 1991. After Paris and before Pennsylvania and Albuquerque and Oregon and Spain and Rhode Island. Before Luke. Before my mother went to Chile with four friends and was the one who didn’t come back.

The store seems different. Cleaner. The stacks have been rearranged and they’ve put the register where Ancient Languages used to be, but it’s the same in back where Maria and I used to hang out. I was hired as Maria’s assistant in French literature. I’d just moved back from France that fall and had this idea that even though Maria was American we’d be speaking French the whole time, speaking about Proust and Céline and Duras, who was so popular then, but instead we spoke in English, mostly about sex, which I suppose was French in its way. All I remembered now from eight months of conversation with her is a dream she had about Kitty, her cat, going down on her. Her rough tongue felt so good, she’d said, but the cat kept getting distracted. She’d lick a bit then move on to her paw, and Maria woke herself up screaming, ‘Focus, Kitty, focus!’

But Maria isn’t in back. None of them are, not even Manfred the cynical East German who went into a rage when people asked for Günter Grass, because Günter Grass had been in strong opposition to reunification. We’ve all been replaced by children: a boy in a baseball cap and a girl with hair to her thighs. Because it’s Friday at three, they’re drinking beers, Heinekens, just like we used to do.

Gabriel comes out from storage with another round. He looks the same: silver curls, torso too long for his legs. I had a crush on him. He was so smart, loved his books, dealt with all the foreign publishers on the phone in their own language. He had a dark, dry humor. He’s handing out the bottles. He says something under his breath, and they all laugh. The girl with the hair is looking at him the way I used to.

I wasn’t broke when I worked at Salvatore’s. Or at least I didn’t think I was. My debts were much smaller and Sallie Mae and EdFund and Collection Technology and Citibank and Chase weren’t hassling me yet. I sublet a room in a house on Chauncy Street with friends, eighty dollars a month. We were all trying to be writers, with jobs that got us by. Nia and Abby were working on novels, I was writing stories, and Russell was a poet. Of all of us, I would have bet that Russell would stick with it the longest. Rigid and disciplined, he got up at four thirty every morning, wrote until seven, and ran five miles before he went to work at Widener Library. But he was the first to surrender and go to law school. He’s a tax attorney in Tampa now. Abby was next. Her aunt convinced her to take a realtor’s exam, just on a lark. Later she tried to tell me she was still using her imagination when she walked through the houses and invented a new life for her clients. I saw her last month outside an enormous house with white columns in Brookline. She was leaning into the driver’s window of a black SUV in the driveway and nodding profusely. Nia met a Milton scholar with excellent posture and a trust fund, who handed her novel back after reading fifteen pages, saying first-person female narratives grated on him. She chucked it in the dumpster, married him, and moved to Houston when he got a job at Rice.

I didn’t get it. I didn’t get any of them then. One by one they gave up, moved out, and got replaced by engineers from MIT. A guy with a ponytail and a Spanish accent came into Salvatore’s looking for Barthes’s Sur Racine. We spoke in French. He said he hated English. His French was better than mine—his father was from Algiers. He made me a Catalan fish stew in his room in Central Square. When he kissed me he smelled like Europe. His fellowship ended, and he went home to Barcelona. I went to an MFA program in Pennsylvania, and we wrote each other love letters until I started dating the funny guy in workshop who wrote gloomy two-page stories set in New Hampshire mill towns. After we broke up, I moved to Albuquerque for a while, then ended up in Bend, Oregon, with Caleb and his boyfriend, Phil. A letter from Paco found me there, and we resumed our correspondence. Enclosed in his fifth letter to me was a one-way ticket to Barcelona.

I poke around in the Ancient Greek section. That’s the next language I want to learn. Around the corner, in Italian, the only other customer sits cross-legged on the floor with a small boy, reading him Cuore. Her voice is low and beautiful. I started speaking a little Italian in Barcelona with my friend Giulia. I come to the long wall of French literature, divided by publishers: rows of red-on-ivory Gallimards, blue-on-white Éditions de Minuit, dime-store-like Livres de Poche, and then the extravagant Pléiades, set apart in their

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252 valutazioni / 29 Recensioni
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  • (3/5)
    Great story; I love how it was given. Good job writer! If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top
  • (5/5)
    Lily King pulled off the big reveal. The creative process of a writer is opened up in Lily's character, Casey. Lily opens our eyes to the gut-wrenching drive and sacrifice it takes to dig out the story buried deep inside a writer to allow characters to live on the page in full view. Then she shows the ego destroying process of finishing and selling Casey's book, that huge chunk of her soul, her years of work, devotion and agony.

    Casey, Lily's sympathetic protagonist, lives the near poverty level life of a waitress to be able to parcel out time in her day to write. Sometimes the poverty part of the equation causes Casey intense anxiety, which means her life plan has backfired on her. When she is so tense, there is no writing, no progress.

    Then there are the lovers. A relationship makes Casey waste a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in an eight-week stay in a writers' colony, a place where she could have dug in, spent day after day writing, and not have had to worry about providing herself with food and shelter. Instead, a man blinds her with an illusion of love that keeps her away from her book, gives her a false sense of a future with him and deprives her of the benefits she could have found co-mingling with the more serious writers. When he leaves the retreat before her, another writer breaks the news--he is married.

    Casey returns to her ex-potting shed efficiency hovel and to her hectic treadmill life of writing and waitressing. It is at the restaurant where she meets a widower and his two small boys. She falls for the kids, even as she realizes the father is a famous writer that she has decided is self-absorbed and maybe more hype than substance. But he is a great Dad. And lonely Casey is drawn to families.

    On the other hand, she has also met an odd young teacher, Silas, also a writer--at the writers' group led by the widower dad. Casey is in a quandary. Who is right for her, the undependable Silas or the split personality good Father/self-obsessed Writer? She is drawn to undependable Silas but needs the instant family, especially the mother-starved little boys who court her more effectively than their father.

    Which lover is the choice that will feed her soul and yet allow her to keep writing? Because, of course, the writing is primary. Casey has rarely known happiness. Once it came from her mother. Now it comes from writing. Men have so far turned out to have been sources of pain and distraction. Which of these two will give her the measure of love she needs, yet not be a hindrance to her writing life?

    Casey lives a loved-starved life--even with two lovers. Her mother died suddenly while in South America. Her father is a lousy human being and his present wife is utterly devoid of compassion. The two of them show up in the midst of Casey's shift in a busy restaurant to pressure her into handing over to the bejeweled stepmother the only significant material gift Casey's mother could have bequeathed to her daughter. Casey stands up to them and keeps the simple sapphire and diamond she and her mom had named the Sky and the Stars. As thoughtful and supportive as ever, they leave her an 11% tip and mercifully leave.

    With a usual author humility Casey doesn't see herself as capable of much beyond putting words on paper. And this is despite the advanced degrees that were financed by the student loans which are drowning her. She can't see herself trying to work an ordinary job like her writer friends who have abandoned writing for a more comfortable life. She doesn't see beyond part-time work because it would stifle her creativity. Yet all her choices are beginning to stifle the spark of creativity anyway--and give her anxiety attacks besides! Casey is truly suffering for her art.

    This is the book I have been waiting for. I go through a book every two or three days. My eyestrain is epic and my FitBit hemorrhages over my sleep patterns, but reading keeps me from obsessing, like Casey, over debts that threaten to make me homeless. And of how to pull together the book(s) I have been writing, lo, these 21 years. Had I been as diligent and as unencumbered as Casy, perhaps I would be published. No excuses, now. Lily points out that Casey is the kind of writer I must become if I will ever get these books launched before I hit the nursing home. Meanwhile, I read, as Stephen King has encouraged.

    I want to read Good Books. I look for a story with intricate plot development along the way. Strong, believable characters are a prime requirement. I need words that paint pictures, description that defines people and places. I need a book with heart, not just a pivot point for an author's imagination. (Unless the imagination is fantastic!) I want to be drawn in and most importantly, NOT to know what happens next. I want to be dragged along with plot and emotion that holds me close right until the end. I want rollercoasters! I want total immersion.

    Anyone reading for anything but pure entertainment knows that rare is the book, even more rare the author, who can produce more than two or three of my probably unrealistic requirements per book. But I keep reading. Many books are interesting. Many are fun. They keep me going until I find something so grippingly wonderful that I have to call friends to tell them, "I mean it. You HAVE to read this book!"

    Writers and Lovers is one of these highly recommended books. Meet Casey and her men. Especially those precious boys. Meet the friends and co-workers who support her and those who put obstacles in her way. Watch Casey find her way. Casey is the fighter--and the writer--that I aspire to be when I put on my big girl pants and start to write with intent. Just the way Casey does...without the lovers.

    And I mean it. You HAVE to read this book!

    KL
  • (5/5)
    Wise and beautiful. My first Lily King, and it won’t be my last.
  • (5/5)
    5/5 stars. Beautifully written story about a down on her luck writer passionate about her craft but adrift and anxiety-ridden following her mother’s sudden death, while facing crippling student debt and a badly timed love triangle with two very different men. This book was an unadulterated pleasure to read, even when experiencing some cringe-worthy and questionable decisions by the lead character. When you can’t put the book down at 4:30am, and you’ve made 19 annotations in your e-reader (vs your 4-5 usual highlights), you know the book is good. This one was under my radar but I’m so glad I read it. One of my favorite books of 2020 so far.
  • (5/5)
    Thank you for writing this book. A joy to read.
  • (5/5)
    Loved this intimate story so dearly. Couldn’t put it down
  • (5/5)
    Remarkable. Made me want to write!
    I want to read everything she wrote.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book for so many reasons. Am going to send it to my nephew, who is an aspiring writer, and just lost his father. I wasn't ready for it to end. I seldom read a book twice, but will go back and read this one for the writing, the wisdom,all that I love about books.
  • (5/5)
    This is the 2nd book that I read by Lily King. I enjoyed Euphoria and thought this was excellent as well. As the title implies it deals with the process of writing and also dealing with love relationships. Casey Peabody is a 31 year old struggling writer living in Cambridge. She works as a waitress in a high end Boston restaurant, lives in a one room place, struggles with massive student loan debt, and the deals with the recent sudden death of her mother. King also throws in a troubled upbringing, male relationships, health issues, and dealing with her 6 years of trying to finish her first novel. I found the story engaging from the start. King is an excellent writer and although 1st person narratives can be tricky, this one not only gets into Casey's head but does a good job of letting us get to know the other characters in the book. King did throw some real tough stuff at Casey that I thought was a little over the top but she did a good job of resolving things in a positive way but didn't do it in an easy cliche manner. If you like good writing this book really is a salute to writers and the writing process. At 320 pages it is an easy read and a good way to make it through your shelter in place. I will definitely check out more books by King.
  • (5/5)
    I just finished this purely masterful novel. The pacing, the sensitivity, the passions of the different characters, the gritty down-and-out quality of it, and the glorious ending lit up my heart. Books that touch me like this novel are exactly why I read, and they’re what I’m constantly searching for in novels of all forms and style. It’s a very intelligent book, that’s set in 1997, and centered on writers, some who have found some success, and those who are struggling. Our main character, Casey Peabody, is 31 and rightly feels that life has been cruelly tossing her around for too many years. While growing up, she had a troubled relationship with her father, who forced her into being a child golf prodigy. After taking on $75,000 in debts to get her M.F.A., she finds herself being constantly hounded by creditors. Her long love relationship ended, and her mother unexpectedly died during a trip in Chile. Casey was suffering, but doing her best to deal with it herself. To most people Casey is a waitress at Iris, an upscale restaurant on Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Those who are closer to her know that she had been struggling to finish her manuscript, Love and the Revolution, for six years. As the story develops, she is involved with two men: Oscar, an older novelist of some stature, who’s raising two young boys himself; and Silas, a struggling writer much closer to her own age. She has a good relationship with Oscar’s boys, and Oscar is a sweet man who shows her real affection and offers her much in life. With Silas, there is a burning passion, but then he will be out of touch for days. After a while, she finishes her manuscript—and with great excitement sends it out to publishers—only to start a bitter collection of rejection letters. Eventually she gets an agent and interest in her work starts to grow. Meanwhile, her waitressing career seems to end, she chooses between Oscar and Silas, and finds an interesting teaching job. That’s enough, I’m not going to reveal everything. Casey’s passion for her writing is intense, and though her progress seemed difficult many times, completing and successfully revising her book is a wild mix of emotions. I loved how King writes about maneuvering the writing/publishing world. Write about writing and bookselling and you’re already halfway there to getting your in so many bookstores. I love all the side stories and the full cast of characters. There is no tedious misdirection in the book, people appear, situations change, she doubts so much, and love/passion/companionship/lust possess and confuse her... often all at the very same time. King doesn’t combined all these elements using some tricky plot device, they all come at Casey, just in the way life comes at most of the rest of us. I’ll leave you with author Elizabeth Strout’s spot on review of the book—“Gorgeous.”
  • (5/5)
    I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.This is the story of Casey, who is living in a converted potting shed, working as a waitress, struggling with student debt, grieving for her mother, and writing a novel. It is beautifully written and I enjoyed every page of it. Casey was an excellent character - even in her grief and panic attacks she persevered at her job and with her writing - and I enjoyed the passages about her dates with Silas and Oscar. I was afraid it would be one of those novels which ends abruptly with everything up in the air, but the ending was the best bit.Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    I don't like it when artists use their art to expound upon art. For example, movies that are about the film industry. Hollywood gushes over them but for me, some of those inside subtleties are totally lost on me. Like La La Land -- I can't be the only person who left the movie theater wondering what was the big deal about this film. Similarly, I don't like books that are about authors trying to write a book. It feels a little self-absorbed and the 'woe is me' seems self-pitying. But I found Writers & Lovers to be exceptional. Casey's efforts and sacrifice to create her first novel were tangible. It was painful to see how she struggled for YEARS to eke out a living while trying to write her book. It was heroic and epic, like Frodo carrying that huge burden all the way to Mordor, and I felt her anguish and her set backs and her struggle with the temptation to throw in the towel and take a day job in an office.Highly, highly recommend this book!
  • (4/5)
    As you would expect from the title, this novel is about the writing and love life of the main character, Casey, a 31 year old waitress in Boston. She struggles with low pay, overwhelming loan debt, doubt regarding the novel she's writing, and grief over the death of her mother. Her waitressing job at a high end Boston restaurant both tires her out and gives her relationships. She meets a fellow aspiring author at a book reading and is almost immediately smitten. Then she meets an author whom she has admired when she serves him and his sons at her restaurant, and he courts her. As she navigates the two relationships while still trying to get her book recognized, she grapples with what's actually important to her. Having been a waitress, and having lived in Boston without enough money, the narrative and dialog rang absolutely true. Casey is someone I have known and will look forward to meeting some day.
  • (5/5)
    Casey Peabody has always wanted to be a writer. At 31, she finds herself waiting tables, living in a run-down garage and with several debt collectors on her heels. For six years she has worked on her novel but somehow it does not work out, too high the pressure from real life. When her mother died a couple of months before, she not only lost her confidant, but constantly feels the big hole this loss left behind in her. Then she meets Oscar, a successful writer and widowed father of two, who seems to be the way out of her misery: a lovely home, stable relationship, two adorable boys, a life without worries. But it does not feel right, especially since there is Silas, too, quite the opposite of Oscar. When Casey is fired from the restaurant and her landlord tells her that the house is to be sold, the anxiety that has accompanied her for years becomes unbearable.Raise your hand is you never dreamt of writing a novel. Isn’t that what we as avid readers long for? To intrigue others with what is lurking within ourselves and, of course, to be praised and complimented for our artistic capacities. Well, that’s just one side of being a writer, many more authors will actually have to face a life just like Casey: never to know if you can make the ends meet, frustrated because the writing does not move on, the words do not come, taking on any job just to survive and organising the writing around working hours. Lily King has painted quite a realistic picture of a novelist’s situation in “Writers & Lovers”. Yet, that’s by far not all the novel has to offer.Her protagonist belongs to the generation who struggles to grow-up. They have been promised so much, they were full of energy in their twenties, but now, hitting 30, they have to make a decision: giving up their dreams for a conservative and boring but secure life just like the one their parents lead or going on with a precarious living that feels totally inadequate. No matter how they decide, it could be the wrong choice and the fear of not picking the right thing paralyses them, an overwhelming anxiety takes over control making them incapable of moving on or doing anything at all. They are stuck in a never-ending rat race which covers all areas of their life. Casey is the perfect example of her generation, highly educated, intelligent, good at dealing with people but nevertheless full of doubts about herself and frustrated by the constant setbacks. I totally adored the novel, it is somehow a coming-of-age at a later age novel. The characters are authentically represented, the emotional states are wonderfully conveyed and thus easy to follow. Even though there is quite some melancholy in it, I did not feel saddened since it also provides a lot of hope just never to give up since all could turn out well in the end.
  • (4/5)
    As the title implies, Lily King’s Writers and Lovers has two major themes, the writing life and the romantic life of its heroine, Camila ‘Casey’ Peabody. As a thirty-one year old waitress who is troubled by the death of her mother, a sour relationship with her father, and thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt, Casey finds that only one thing keeps her going, and that’s the novel she’s been working on for the past six years. Will the novel ever get published? Will she ever find a nice apartment in overpriced Cambridge, Massachusetts? And which of her two desirable suitors should she choose? These questions and others form the bulk of the novel, but I found that I was most interested in the observations about writing than in the standard issue romantic-comedy plot points. This novel has some good moments, but in general I didn’t feel it lived up to its advance billing.
  • (5/5)
    I usually read a few noted reviews of a book after I finish it, but before I do that I just wanted to record how much I enjoyed King's latest novel. Maybe it was because of the current containment mandate, but I ripped through this book in just a few days and loved the emotions it gave me. Casey, our protagonist, is a bright 31 year old struggling in life for many reasons, college debt, boyfriend heartbreaks, and the loss of her mother. She waitresses in a high end restaurant in Boston and the reader gets a great feel for that life. It reminded me of Sweet bitter in that respect. We hear about Casey's two loves before the present time of the novel and then experience two more boyfriends that are at times competing both in her heart and as chapters in the novel. Both are writers, one is established and fairly famous, the other struggling along like her. Meanwhile through it all we see her stability waver, the bees under her skin, she calls them as she tries to juggle all this while always trying to write the famous American novel. This one about Cuba and a young girls decision about love and the revolution. Casey becomes a compelling character and as we root for her we get more invested in the story. Highly recommend this novel and look forward to exploring Euphoria, her earlier one that I missed. Some lines:Nia met a Milton scholar with excellent posture and a trust fund, who handed her novel back after reading fifteen pages, saying first-person female narratives grated on him. She chucked it in the dumpster, married him, and moved to Houston when he got a job at Rice.I’m both the sad person and the person wanting to comfort the sad person. And then I feel sad for that person who has so much compassion because she’s clearly been through the same thing, too. And the cycle keeps repeating. It’s like when you go into a dressing room with a three-paneled mirror and you line them up just right to see the long narrowing hallway of yourselves diminishing into infinity. It feels like that, like I’m sad for an infinite number of my selves.when I stood on the porch of my cabin the first morning I remembered my mother’s fawn-colored jacket with the white wool cuffs and collar and the smell of her wintergreen Life Savers in the left zip pocket. I heard her say my name, my old name, Camila, that only she called me. I felt the slippery seat in her blue Mustang, cold through my tights.I told him the things that were coming back to me about my mother when I was little: her lemon smell and her gardening gloves with the rubber bumps and her small square toes that cracked when she walked barefoot. Her tortoiseshell headbands that were salty at the tips if you sucked on them.My body aches from my throat to my groin. I want him to slide his fingers into my bathing suit and make all the heaviness and misery go away. I feel like a hag in a fairy tale, waiting to be made young and supple again.The air smells like a cocktail party from the seventies, aftershave and martini onions.
  • (4/5)
    Here’s a positive about a pandemic. I was able to sit down and read this book in one day. That’s a perfect setting for a book I enjoy. Casey is trying to writer a novel, but she’s stuck living in an “apartment” that used to be a potting shed. She is a waitress in an upscale restaurant near Harvard University. She’s moved a lot in her 31 years including Spain. Her mother has recently died, and this has thrown her for a loop. She and her mother were very close. She’s basically estranged from her father. And then two romantic interests come into her life and she struggles who is the better choice. I love the descriptions of the people with whom she works at the restaurant. It opened my eyes to the people serving me my food actually have a life beyond me. And then I’m always a sucker for a book with a good ending. She picked the right guy. She’s figured out what really matters in life!
  • (4/5)
    "Writers and Lovers" has its title in the right order: the book is primarily about the craft of writing. The torment of writing; the delight of writing. The aversion to writing; the all-consuming desire to write. The guilt of not having written, the need for discipline in order to keep writing. The abrupt departure of the muse. It’s only fitting that the novel is well written. Some sentences are so finely crafted that they hit the reader like a bolt from the blue.Young Casey is working as restaurant wait staff in Boston, dealing with bereavement, post-traumatic stress, health scares, heartbreak, and debt. Debt—from student loans, of course—may be causing Casey the most anxiety of all; she calls it her “looming blank specter.” An unfinished novel, six years in progress, is calling to Casey over the din of angry diners and debt collectors. She’s clinging to the impractical dream of life as an artist and always wants to call her mother, forgetting that her mother died months ago. As the novel progresses, she’s torn between two different men, both of whom are also writers.Readers will root for Casey to reach the next stage of her life, with good career, stable finances, good health, a healthy relationship, or, at the very least, a good, published, profitable novel.I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher and was encouraged to submit an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    Writers & Lovers feels like Lily King reached into my brain, pulled out some of my favorite things, some of my memories, wrapped them all up in her gorgeous prose and presented this amazing gift to me. Casey Peabody is 31, waits tables at a high-end restaurant in Cambridge while trying to finish the novel she’s been working on for six years. Casey has a lot of problems--debt collectors, a recently broken heart, some physical ailments and she is still grieving her mother’s sudden death the previous year. With all that, somehow King still manages to write a book full of funny and hopeful moments. The story falters at points (the end...ugh), but King’s writing wins the day with such simple yet incredibly thoughtful and emotional moments. (“I don’t write because I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse.” Sigh.) Writers & Lovers hit me with a lot of personal connections--Boston, restaurants, books, writing--but kept me with everything it became. A definite TBR for readers of Emma Straub, David Nicholls, Meg Wolitzer, etc.I received an ARC through Edelweiss+
  • (3/5)
    I had a very hard time getting into it, took me at least 100 pages... then the story and pace get better. Did not wow me but good read
  • (5/5)
    An absolutely wonderful book. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, but I was hooked from the first page.
  • (5/5)
    It is a beautiful story and heartfelt! Loved the writing!!
  • (5/5)
    I really liked how the story unfolds and how our main character—Casey, is a strong woman. Despite all the negativity she encountered, she’s resilient and eager to pursue her dream.
  • (5/5)
    Wow I feel like I've visited my twenties. Her grief and brokenness are so real. I love this. She is a great writer. I will be reading her again. She really got it though. I wonder what she's lived thru. Pitch perfect. Kaye
  • (3/5)
    The story is very beautifully written but as someone else put in the reviews, I also thought it was very dull. Something about the story didn’t allow me me to sink into the book!
  • (5/5)
    So beautifully written. The story is interesting, characters are quirky and well developed but what made it a five star read for me is the beautiful writing. Will definitely be buying an actual book to reread and focus on the language.
  • (5/5)
    Loved it...beautiful writing and very easy to fall into the story
  • (5/5)
    Absolutely beautiful. Loved the writing, plot and rooted for Casey the whole time.
  • (3/5)
    Very ho-hum for me, a quick read, kind of a Cinderella story about a woman struggling to write and make a life for herself. I can see how it would appeal to people who like to read about writers. It wasn't badly written per se but for me kind of dull. Nice Boston/Cambridge local color if you like that kind of thing.