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The Answers

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3.28  ·  Rating details ·  3,347 ratings  ·  486 reviews
An urgent, propulsive novel about a woman learning to negotiate her ailment and its various aftereffects via the simulacrum of a perfect romantic relationship

In Catherine Lacey’s ambitious second novel we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief fro
...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Drw I think it is too depressing for any but the most mature of teens to read. Doesn't portray life, love, or existence with much hope

Community Reviews

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3.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,347 ratings  ·  486 reviews


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Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
I understand cerebral, I understand provocative. I also understand too much plot that turns into an unpalatable stew of bizarre characters who appear and disappear, unexplained motivations, a protagonist who is only tangentially involved in her own life. Just no. Too many ingredients. Whatever appeal and flavor they held on their own is lost. As was whatever grand theme about life, love and personhood some would like to say this was about.
Kasa Cotugno
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio, dnf
Life is too short for this.
Jessica Sullivan
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I loved this book. I knew from the opening page that I would. Sometimes you find writers who seem to get you or speak to you on a level that just makes sense, and that's how I feel about Catherine Lacey. The Answers is my ideal kind of novel: quirky, witty, intellectually stimulating and deeply character-driven—yet there's still an actual plot carrying it forward.

Is it possible to achieve a prolonged state of limerence—the physiological and psychological stage of a body as it falls in love?
...more
Creager
Feb 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
The Answers is chock full of sublime prose amidst unethical love. (view spoiler) ...more
Blair
30-year-old Mary is broke and sick. Though nobody has been able to diagnose her illness, she is weak, underweight, and beset by constant, chronic pain. She's recently discovered a method that, miraculously, seems to help, makes her feel almost normal again – an esoteric form of treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, or 'PAKing' – but it's prohibitively expensive. Mary is also on the run from her past, having fled her fervently religious parents, who brought her up in near-total isolation ...more
Lucille
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nevermind the answers, I couldn’t figure out the fucking QUESTIONS.
Lauren
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: realism, slipstream
Basically, if you took Jennifer Egan's Look at Me, gave it a handful of Valium, infused it with a dumbed-down version of Super Sad True Love Story, and inexplicably crossed it over with an entirely unrelated memoir about being raised entirely separate from society and then a second entirely unrelated memoir about an experience with alternative medicine, you would have The Answers.

There are flashes of intellectual shine here--the Egany parts--and there's a good enough short story about a mysterio
...more
Estee
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Does everybody who read this book love it except for me? wow.

I thought this book would be interesting, it sounds interesting, it has the promise of being interesting...yet when I was reading it, I couldn't get into it. I felt like the story was boring and confusing. I almost gave up at 40% but I figured that the book might grow on me. So I stuck it out.

What did I learn? Life is too short to read books you don't enjoy.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: http://www.elle.com/culture/books/g29...
I am going to repost the publisher summary of this novel because I am having a hard time explaining it:
"In Catherine Lacey’s ambitious second novel we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours
...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine Lacey is my kind of writer. Or I'm her kind of reader. Either way, it's a love affair. The Answers asks some of the most interesting questions - the kind of questions only the best fiction can pose. A plot summary is not particularly useful with this book - the loose plot is just what happens while Lacey dissects themes of love (who we love, how we love, why we love), loneliness, female identity and art. It's so smart and so weird and so beautiful.
Figgy
Review to come.

There was some really great writing in this one, but it was somewhat overwhelmed by all the introspection, unnecessary information about characters who don't even seem to factor into the story, and various plot lines that are never resolved.
Theresa
One of the weirdest novels I've ever read, and yet I couldn't put it down. The plot of "The Answers" is too difficult to summarize in review form, but I was deeply intrigued by the raw, emotionally aloof voice of the protagonist, Mary. What a kooky little woman. I liked her, and yet I wanted to shake her and scream in her face, "what the hell are you doing?" Catherine Lacey can definitely write, but I don't think this book will be for everyone. Very odd and introspective. Also, "The Answers" mig ...more
Oryx
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I'm just going to leave this here, leave it to settle, let the five stars mull, see if they continue to crackle.

It really is almost flawless.

4.347
Book Riot Community
In Catherine Lacey’s second novel, a woman with a mysterious illness pays for her questionable medical treatment by participating in a famous actor’s “girlfriend experiment.” Essentially, he pays different women to perform various roles for him: there’s the Emotional Girlfriend, the Maternal Girlfriend, the Anger Girlfriend. The book, which reads like the lovechild of Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood, is a little uneven; chapter to chapter, Lacey seems unsure of what kind of book she wants it ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Edit: Here's my interview with Catherine for Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/feature...

“How sad our respective nothings had seemed at first, the cool absence in a bed, the dinners with a book. Then, even sadder, those nothings became preferable. The simplicity of being alone won out over the complexity of being together.”

“She did miss the comfort of his life drifting beside hers. She missed his nothing. It had felt like something.”
Katherine Lika
Books like The Answers are hard to review. When I turned the last page, I was tingling from the prose, but as time went by I realized there were quite a few aspects that never felt cohesive in hindsight.

I never felt close Mary, the protagonist, but her questions and quiet epiphanies were so well spun that I couldn't get enough of her. It was the quick and random point of view changes that became alarming as the book began it's second act. These moments were so half baked -- the choice was just
...more
Edward  Goetz
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, literature
A very thought provoking book. It's not easy to summarize. The important thing is to go with and ponder the questions Ms. Lacey poses.
Douglas Lord
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing and cerebral, this is a story about identity, who we are, and who we choose to be. It stars the young Mary Parsons (née Junia Stone) who leaves her mom-n-pop religious cult with the help of a guardian angel aunt. She ran from a father who planned to raise her “in a state of complete purity, to protect me from the terrible world, and my life would prove his point.” But you can’t make someone else’s life your little pet project, now can you Dr. Moreau? Or…can you? Junia changes to Mary, ...more
Drew
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full of the same potent prose as Lacey's debut, this one feels much more muddied. Perhaps it is because it started as two separate stories that merged into a novel (you can feel that at the outset) and perhaps it is because things largely go unresolved. There is a restlessness to this novel that makes it, at times, difficult to read - as though you can see the author working through things right there on the page, not always successfully.

Still, the ideas powering this are inspired. I could've r
...more
Nicole
Aug 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book but couldn't. I'm surprised I got through the whole thing, but hate quitting on books and read it in only a few sittings anyways. This is probably because of a lack of any depth to the characters or setting.

So many problems, but my biggest critique is the narration style - if you can call it that. It sloppily bounced from first to third to first person, present tense to flashbacks back to the present without any explanation. Characters were hollow and minimally descri
...more
Sarahc Caflisch
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of it transcendent, some of it could have used some more thought/refinement. Some of it was old ideas thought and written about in completely new and inspiring ways and some of it was old ideas given the "college juniors discussing like they are the first people to ever think about love" treatment. Luckily the college junior* tinged parts parts are very few, but still very jarring in what is mostly a really great book. Writing amazing throughout.

* no actual college juniors in book, I am on
...more
Melanie  (Perpetually Reading)
Flew through this book, but was still left a bit disappointed. This book left me wanting more, and was not as fulfilling as I wished it would be. Although I do love an ambiguous, "to-be-continued" type of ending, this one did not cut it for me. The questions Lacey tries to answer (can love be artificially created? Is there a way we can "cheat" this cycle of love and hate?) is intriguing, but is ultimately underwhelming. The book took me through the story at a great pace till the end, and I have ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoy Lacey's writing and Mary was an interesting character but I did not enjoy the basic premise of the story. Too speculative for me.
Resh (The Book Satchel)
"Such a serious thing we are doing, and no one really knows how to do it”
That is what happens when an eccentric actor tries to work with a team of scientists to measure and quantify love. They are working on a Girlfriend experiment whereby different girls (employees) are assigned the different tasks of a girlfriend. One is an Emotional gf, one is an Anger gf and so on.

What to expect?
-engaging plot
- interesting storyline
- an underlying tone of sarcasm. Lacey makes fun of the haves and have-nots
...more
Tracie
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first section of this book is decent and dangles some intriguing loose threads but the middle switches POV out of nowhere and tries way too hard to SAY SOMETHING IMPORTANT. The end ties up NOTHING and I can guarantee I will immediately forget I've read this. Nothing about it is worth remembering. I should probably just give it one star.
Mariana Ferreira
Dec 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
An interesting premise, a nice beginning, but an absolute mess. I kept reading because I actually hoped it would improve, but I simply don’t see what so many people loved about this. It’s inconsistent characters spilling bs in nice prose and having interactions that take suspension of belief to a whole new level. Avoid this one.
Heidi
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was sort of all over the place - it was easy to initially sympathize with Mary's character, but the premise of actor Kurt's emotional experiment with different women to represent different parts of a relationship just didn't hold water for me.
Thekelburrows
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Each ingredient in The Answers is admirably bold but I'm not sure the resulting dish was successfully harmonious. Maybe too much cilantro?
Samantha
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In The Answers, Catherine Lacey really comes into her own as a writer. I read her books Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence this year, and without a doubt I was most impressed by The Answers. In fact, I think The Answers is one of the best books of 2017.

The novel is about Mary Parsons, a young woman who has suffered from an unexplained host of symptoms that no doctor can diagnose for over a year. Mary is in constant pain w
...more
Amante Libri
Per fortuna l'ho finito!
Tanti sentieri imboccati in questo romanzo ma nessuno veramente esplorato o seguito fino alla fine; un libro che brancola per non andare da nessuna parte, personaggi senza spessore, prosa piatta e soporifera. Talmente monotono, lento e monocorde che ritengo di aver perso tempo leggendolo.

Le risposte
Catherine Lacey
Traduzione: Teresa Ciuffoletti
Editore: Sur
Pag: 332
Voto: 2/5
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Play Book Tag: The Answers b Catherine Lacey - 4 stars 1 22 Jun 10, 2017 10:49PM  
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Catherine Lacey is the author of the novels NOBODY IS EVER MISSING and THE ANSWERS, both of which has been translated into Italian, French, Dutch, German, and Spanish. She is the winner of a 2016 Whiting Award, a finalist for the NYPL's Young Lions Fiction Award, and a NYFA fellow. Her essays and short fiction have been published in The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, Vogue, Virginia Quarterly ...more
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“I got used to it, in a way, being this sack of skin full of problems, because having a body doesn't give you the right to have one that works correctly. Having a body doesn't seem to give you any rights at all.” 6 likes
“Perhaps someone would say I had no choice but to trust her and perhaps this is true, but also, and I understand this now, I love her and I loved her in that rare way, that non-possessive and accepting way that it seems people are always trying and failing to love someone...” 5 likes
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