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I Fear My Pain Interests You (Paperback)
A punky, raw novel of millenial disaffection, trauma and 1960s cinema
Margot is the child of renowned musicians and the product of a particularly punky upbringing. Burnt-out from the burden of expectation and the bad end of the worst relationship yet, she leaves New York and heads to to the Pacific Northwest. She’s seeking to escape both the eyes of the world and the echoing voice of that last bad man. But a chance encounter with a dubious doctor in a graveyard, and the discovery of a dozen old film reels, opens the door to a study of both the peculiarities of her body and the absurdities of her famous family.
A literary take on cinema du corps, Stephanie LaCava’s new novel is an audaciously sexy and moving exploration of culture and connections, bodies and breakdowns.
About the Author
Stephanie LaCava is a writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Harper's, Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Vogue, and Interview. Her debut novel, The Superrationals, was published by Semiotext(e) in 2020.
"A sharp critical vision lurches into focus: of culture as commodity, of suffering as currency, and of the female body as this agon's generalized battleground."
—Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder
"Elegant ... [I Fear My Pain Interests You] is seeded with references to jazz music and to body-horror French arthouse film, and these frame LaCava's attempt to do something transformative with violence and suffering."
—Daisy Hildyard, Guardian
"A visceral, exorcism-like exploration of a body blunted to pain and a mind moulded by generational trauma, lust, and dysfunction ... sensual, slippery and stylish."
—Anna Cafolla, The Face
"I Fear My Pain Interests You is meticulously constructed, with each part supporting and supported by the others. Controlled self-awareness like this in novels makes me pay close attention, enriching my experience."
—Tao Lin, The New York Times
"LaCava's book animates its story with something of Patricia Highsmith's sociopathology and Clarice Lispector’s macabre glamor."
—JC Holburn, XRAY
"Stephanie LaCava's exploration of the cracks and fault lines in human identity is so sharp it nearly bleeds."
"A smart, sharply observed critique of literary tropes and the art world"
"A slippery, stylish book"
"Stephanie LaCava’s new novel is a destabilizing read—like coming across a sudden anagram in a sentence. The book’s strikingly true-to-life characters are similarly jarring: constantly misunderstood and misunderstanding and fiercely protective of fortresses of self-delusion (though LaCava resists moralization at every turn)."
"The cool girl book of the year"
—Jordan Richman, 032c
"The hard, clipped, and cool voice that speaks from within Stephanie LaCava's I Fear My Pain Interests You will live in my head for a long time. Here is a novel that seems to shrug off the pain of being young and adrift in the world, while secretly, it draws you into the dark recesses of loneliness and disillusionment. I fear her book will destroy you."
"I can’t wait to be lured into another of LaCava’s stylized settings, this time an exploration of 1960s cinema and bodily absurdities."
"I haven't read a book in a while that just pulled me in, and you're so immersed in the characters and in the world. It's quite a slice of life."
—Kaia Gerber, Vanity Fair
"The daughter of punk rockstars, with a jeweled cigarette case full of pills and a bloody face, flees to Montana for a quieter life - only to uncover her congenital inability to feel pain, which puts her at risk of one man's desire and ambition, in this absurdist novel about fame and bodies."
—Nylon, September 2022's Must Read Book Releases
"It's the liquid flush of the voice undulating beneath the veneer of the book's punky mask that drew me in."
—Adele Bertei, The Brooklyn Rail
"Whether it's [Margot's] pain or her detachment that fascinates us, I Fear My Pain Interests You examines issues of power, how it is or is not inherited, what the consequences of being defined by others are, and the ways pain shapes us."
—Ilana Masad, BOMB
"Understated and elegant, LaCava's writing inspires both dread and longing; her characters, nearly all of them direct to the point of cruelty, also seem unable to say anything that would lead to real emotional connection. The horrors of this book build so subtly that their apex seems both unfathomable and inevitable, like a deep fear that finally comes to pass."
—Corinne Segal, Lit Hub, 22 Novels You Need to Read this Fall
"Nonlinear in format and stark in its use of language, this brief but impactful novel is going to stay with me for a while. I Fear My Pain Interests You is a stark and singularly unforgettable read."
—David Vogel, Buzzfeed
"LaCava approaches her second novel, I Fear My Pain Interests You, as the next logical step beyond our obsession with a sad–girl world. The kind of dissociative feminism she skewers is a well–documented media phenomenon. Rather than further suggesting distance and aloofness like the cool–girl trope, LaCava inverts this concept to lift Margot away from the trappings of commodification."
—Caitlin Quinlan, The Cut
"[I Fear My Pain Interests You] considers what it means to be a woman in the world, as well as pain, sex, fear, corporeal or otherwise, and maybe even love as well."
—Grace Linden, The Chicago Review of Books
"Like a lyric from a cherished song or a fragment from a beloved poem, I Fear My Pain Interests You hints at all the most compelling themes - hurting, intrigue, dominance, submission, lust, and dysfunction."
—Emily Dinsdale, AnOther
"Stunning ... I Fear My Pain Interests You is slim but satisfying, with LaCava as our talented chef who won't let us forget whose bones we're gnawing on."
—Jessa Crispin, The Times
"Sinister, revolting - and uncannily elegant."
—Cal Revely-Calder, Telegraph
—David Terrien, ArtReview
"A quality of distance - from sensation and experience, from self and others - manifests most effectively when characters are talking; no one writes dialogue quite like LaCava."
—Gideon Jacobs, Bookforum
"[I Fear My Pain Interests You] sets up inheritances - of privilege, or trauma - as stages for exploring the masochistic relationships between self-awareness and pain."
—Jessica Loudis, Times Literary Supplement
"Depressed, isolated, and deprived of her own creative outlet, Margot's plight is tragic, but not without its own perverse sense of comedy: no pain, no fame."
"A cool, cutthroat razor of a novel."
—Philippa Snow, The New Republic
"It destroyed me, in a good way."
"Alluring and melancholy."