An energetic, witty collection of stories in which supernatural events meet the anomalies of everyday life: deception, infidelity, lost cats, cute memes, amateur pornography, and more.
A woman walks onto a tennis court. A woman has a conversation with a friend’s husband in a supermarket. A woman sees a painting at the home of an art collector. A woman goes on a run. A woman takes videos of a cat in a bodega. A woman answers a Craigslist ad to write erotic diaries for money.
Cosmogony takes accounts of so-called normal life and mines them for inconsistencies, cruelties, and delights. Incorporating a virtuosic range of styles and genres (Wikipedia entry, phone call, math equation, encounters with the supernatural, philosophies of time travel), these stories reveal how the narratives we tell ourselves and believe are inevitably constructed, offering a glimpse of the structures that underlie and apparently determine human existence–and which we ignore at our own peril.
"There is perhaps no author better able to confront the acute absurdities of our reality than Lucy Ives, who veritably tackles the derangements of our era with glee, clarity, and brilliance. In this story collection, Ives touches on the mundane—from memes to porn to errand-running—offering up a version of life that is all the more authentic for its wholly surreal elements (time travel; living underwater). But then, this is what Ives does best: By offering up a kaleidoscope rather than a microscope through which to view our world, she presents us with something more glittery and beautiful and endlessly faceted than we could see if we were looking at it with our own eyes." —Kristin Iversen, Refinery29, One of the Best New Books of the Year
"Ives grapples with information overload while exploring her characters’ deeply personal interiority in this inventive collection. Here, Mallarmé meets Craigslist, as a young translator takes a job writing the diaries of erotic online models in 'A Throw of the Dice' ... . The fascinating, dialogue-heavy 'Scary Sites' surfs between many topics, from Saturday Night Live to violence in literature, to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s 'Perfect Smoky Eye.' The structurally ingenious 'Guy' takes the form of a casual stroll through Wikipedia’s hodgepodge of entries on Guy Fawkes and the Napoleonic Wars before settling into a startlingly intimate portrait of an affair. Through juxtaposition and collage, these stories illuminate the trickier fringes of life right now." —Publisher's Weekly
"In this collection of short stories, Ives time travels, hallucinates, and performs magic to speak about the mystical qualities of the mundane. The stories all meander into something unexpected before exploding in truth and keen observations of human nature...Ives has the rare ability to boomerang reality totally out of whack before calling it home in an even purer form." —Booklist
"Cosmogony, [Ives's] debut short story collection, takes on daily absurdities and the subtle supernatural, playing with format as she weaves in Wikipedia entries, text messages, and science equations." —Arianna Rebolini, Buzzfeed, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year
"Ives—this is a compliment—is a real literary weirdo, and her stories are strange without ever performing their strangeness. . . . Each one is emotionally precise in the extreme. Often, I was moved without knowing what had moved me—a rare feeling in art as in life, and an absolute treat. . . . I'd move to her weird cosmos any day." —Lily Meyer, NPR
“Lucy Ives writes prose with the poetry inherent in her words, making the natural unnatural and the monotone fascinating, filtering and projecting the reality through the eyes of a poet . . . When Ives writes about art, biographical or historical information finds its place gracefully within the fiction without being mere footnotes. Her reflections provide the basis of a delicate understanding of art criticism in relation to creative writing.” —Cigdem Asatekin, The Brooklyn Rail
"Ives takes a playful approach to her subject and, along the way, reveals how thin the fictions governing our world truly are." —Cornelia Channing, New York Magazine
“A series of impossibly clever riffs on familiar features of modern life . . . from a mind that just won’t stop.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Rare and fearless, Cosmogony's high-wire formal playfulness forges a circuit of human connection blinking at unlikely nodes. Even in moments of alienation and hurt, Ives's characters find themselves inextricably tethered to each other through philosophy, systems that fail them, art and love and searching. The puzzle pieces of this collection notch together, assembling a picture of the mysterious intelligence of coincidence and the sad, funny faces with which we meet it." —Tracy O'Neill, author of Quotients and The Hopeful
"I recommend Lucy Ives’s inventive collection of complex, deadpan, analytical, interrelated, controlledly wandering stories about divorce, lies, fear, parents, memes, the internet, art, artists, information, and literature." —Tao Lin, author of Trip and Taipei
Date: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Soft Skull Press