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Impossible Views of the World

2.63  ·  Rating details ·  777 ratings  ·  239 reviews
A witty, urbane, and sometimes shocking debut novel, set in a hallowed New York museum, in which a co-worker's disappearance and a mysterious map change a life forever.

Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan's renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a w
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Penguin Press
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Average rating 2.63  · 
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Jill McGill

I couldn't finish this book... The writing style was not for me. The story seemed to wander and was hard to follow.
Lisa Aiello
DNF at 13%. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but I had such a hard time with the writing in this book. It was pretentious, overly verbose, and I would have to read and re-read entire sentences and paragraphs several times to figure out just what the heck was being said. I thought I knew a lot of big words and had a pretty wide knowledge of vocabulary - apparently I'm wrong, because I needed a dictionary by my side. I can't comment about the storyline, as I never made it far eno ...more
First, I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Books, and Lucy Ives for a free copy of this book before the publication date in exchange for an honest review.

Stella is a curator with a week from hell. To top it all off, her co-worker, Paul, goes missing. Finding a map makes her question everything about anything she knows. She deals with everything on her plate, while also finding out things about her co-worker Paul.

This book was not for me. I really, really struggled to get through this book.
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I enjoyed everything about Lucy Ives's Impossible Views of the World. It's delightful from beginning to end. It's a literary, art, and historical mystery. It's also a romcom and a relationship/family drama. And at its heart, it's about a woman's quest for agency. Ives's writing is inventive and original, and I applaud her for it.

Stella Krakus is a curator at the Central Museum of Art in Manhattan. She works in the American Objects department and her specialty is American graphics. When her co-wo
Jun 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
I found this book to be pretentious. It was not an enjoyable read. I hung in there for the whole thing, but I wish that I had quit much earlier. I kept hoping that something would occur to draw me in, but it just never happened. The language was unnecessarily showy, the characters were obnoxious and immature, and there was little plot to speak of.

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Thanks to Penguin's first to read program for an ecopy of this book in exchange for a review.

DNF - 15% (but it felt like so much more)

I tried really hard to get into this book. It portrayed itself as a mystery when a museum employee goes missing. I love museum mysteries ever since reading The Art Forger. But the writing in this book was heavy and flat. With every word I felt like I was suffocating. The narrator tried to hard to be funny at times and failed dramatically. Throwing around the word
nikkia neil
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss, mystery
Thanks Edewiss for this ARC.

We all have to grow up; this is a great awesome book about a woman finds her own power and worth.
Jean Paulhan
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this novel and was blown away. Could not put it down. Will be buying the hardcover for my collection :)
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I would probably give this a 2.5 but since no half stars are allowed here I rounded to 3. I WANTED to like this book. I TRIED to like this book. I made every excuse in FAVOR of this book, but alas it was not for me. The premise of the book sounded fantastic and the summary was just what I wanted, but the actual story fell a little short for me. I think the biggest problem I had with it was the writing style that bogged me down. I had to read and re-read most sentences to get the meaning of it, o ...more
Jillian Doherty
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Stylish and witty, revolving around a self described sophisticated misanthrope.

Stella's had quite the overwhelming week! From her unwavering career focus as the city's art curator, dealing with her self-important and almost ex-husband Wit, her eccentric famous meddling mother, her missing friend and colleague Paul, and appeasing her lover Frank and all of his airs.
Yet the most compulsive intrigue surrounds the mysteriously discovered map that has curious roots in her art museum.
The kaleidosco
Alexandra WhimsyPages
Jun 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
DNF after about 50 pages.

Written in a very pretentious way, sometimes I wondered if what I was reading passed through the hands of an editor at all.

I could have pretended and spoken about the intelligence, wittiness and poetic style, but frankly when you put too much sugar in the cake it no longer brings you pleasure, just as a book with metaphor on top of metaphor, figurative speech on top of weirdly constructed sentences.

It was difficult to get into the story when I had to detangle each wor
Karen Mace
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
The blurb was intriguing so that's what drew me into reading this book. And for the most part it was mildly interesting - there was a great attention to detail in the writing style and that made sense for a book set around a museum and those who worked there. But I also felt this went against the story as it just felt 'overdone' - there was little about the characters that felt endearing so the story fell a little flat.

The mystery of the map was the bright light in the story and did keep me fas
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, 2017, arc, first-to-read
Not for me. I wanted to like this book given its stunning cover and intriguing summary, but found it to be a challenging slog despite the brief length. Ives' writing is far too pretentious to be enjoyable; I constantly had to reread sentences to fully comprehend what was happening. None of the characters are particularly compelling and a mere wisp of plot is present, which led me to wonder about the overall point of the story. One positive is that the tale allows for a peek behind the curtain at ...more
The Lit Bitch
Person disappears in a museum? A museum mystery? With maps? Yes, yes and yes! Is what went through my mind when this one came up for review.

The summary promised lots of tantalizing elements which is what drew me in for a review.

Sure the summary sounded wordy and excessive but this book is meant to be a mystery for the high brow readers I think. There’s a lot of large words and pomp just in the summary alone, but I was intrigued and thought a mystery in a museum sounded entertaining.

This was a de
While I didn't think this was as pretentious as other readers seemed to believe, there were maybe five pages of dialogue throughout the entire novel and lines-long sentences full of overwrought similes. Hers was a long, bunchy name, like a bag of knots. and the like.

Sadly, the mystery and museum-esque quality that initially drew me in was hidden beneath chapter after chapter of Stella alternating between hating-slash-avoiding her soon-to-be ex-husband and pining after a fellow coworker with whom
Jul 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, 2017
I didn't make it to the end of this but I made it far enough (over halfway) to know that it wasn't going to get any better.

The beautiful cover, title, and intriguing plot summary pulled me in. Unfortunately that's all I really liked about this book, which I found inexplicable in so many ways.

I imagine some people might enjoy Ives' writing, but I found the forceful attempt to be quirky and clever incredibly grating, more so with every passing page. Not only that, but at times the writing was just
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-books
"It showed you something that the art historian seldom has a chance, and probably does not want to discuss, i.e., the fact that the history of art, or the history of the production of aesthetic objects, is not merely a narrative of progress and increasing skill in the relation of realist detail, or just the invention of new ways to convey politics to an in-group. There is also branching and backtracking. And there is isolation, and there is miracle. And there is something people call "charm", w ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I probably could have kept reading this book forever even if the story never went anywhere, just because I loved the way Lucy Ives' words felt rolling across my consciousness.

I suppose I liked this book for precisely the same reasons as so many other reviewers seemed to dislike it - the dreaded "pedantic writing" accusation. Perhaps this makes me an aspiring pedant or admirer of pedants, or perhaps much of the readership confused connoisseurship of language with snobbish pedantry. Either way, I
Jul 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
I received the ARC of Impossible Views of the World by the publisher through the First to Read program in exchange for my honest review.

From the first paragraph I knew this was going to be a tough read. Ives' writing style is so needlessly pretentious that it makes her story very hard to read without rolling your eyes. She uses many fancy words to say a whole lot of nothing. The writing was unnatural and felt forced and robotic. I felt Ives was trying to show she could write well instead of actu
Sep 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would like those 296 pages worth of time in my life back, please. Truly, the most pretentious and overly wordy writing I've read since I was forced to read Proust in a college French class. I kept reading, hoping that some dramatic reveal in the story would change my mind and outweigh the frustration of reading sentence after sentence that had been jammed through a thesaurus machine, but that relief never came. By the time I hit 80%, I realized it never would and I started reading as fast as p ...more
Jeannette Nikolova
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

This was the first book I received from Penguin Books on NetGalley and I was very happy about it. Add to that the interesting premise of a museum and a mysterious map of a magical settlement, as well as the beautiful cover, which reminded me of The Grand Budapest Hotel movie cover, and I was hooked.

Unfortunately, the book is anything but exciting. For starters, the main character was a strange, self-contradictory woman, who was as hard to like for me,
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
WAY too much unneeded description of everything. I could only stand 15% before closing this book. I won't be going back to it. Reading a book should be entertaining, not agony.

I really wanted to like this book, but it was just impossible for me.

Thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was a mixed bag for me. I was attracted by the beautiful cover (what's new) and a blurb I'd seen marketing it as "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for adults." That's a great sell.

But then, once I started reading...

Immediately I had a hard time with the prose. It was very choppy with an emphasis on both slang and figurative language that made for difficult going. Getting used to it was like reading an old book with very antiquated language. Odd cadences, funky aside
Angie Reisetter
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
An uneven book, with awkward narration and a disorganized, inconsistent voice, but some truly breathtaking imagery popping out here and there. The overall construction of the story was intricate and impressive -- I don't know that I've ever read a book quite like it. The use of history and art was great. The use of character a little less impressive. There are also some glaring issues with understanding quite what Stella's job is, what her goals are, why she does things from one hour to the next ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
DNF. Received an ARC from Random House, this book has a beautiful cover but unfortunately the writing wasn't my taste. I gave it 50 pages but it just wasn't for me.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Holy convoluted sentence structures, batman! It's hard to parse out what is actually happening sometimes, the meandering descriptions and pretentiousness get in the way. I'm not sure if Ives is trying to impress with her knowledge of privilege in New York, or if she thinks it adds anything to the story, but I found it off putting. The actual plot is interesting. The setting is fabulous. I feel like I really could have liked this book, if there had been better editing; prune out the unnecessary a ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: r-ng
Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives was an impossibly frustrating reading experience. The language and narration of this book gets in the way of the story; it seem to be used not for the story but rather for the sake of language itself. The writing style and word choice gives the entire book a pretentious feel and leaves me as a reader disengaged from the story.

Read my complete review at

Reviewed for NetGalley
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author is clearly a poet because the writing is like nothing I've read before. Lyrical, playful, and mesmerizing. The plot is relatable. I would probably read it again in the future.
Alysa H.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Let me just say straight off that I loved this book. I thought the writing was excellent -- very technically precise, which not only appeals to me but is also perfect for the main character, Stella, a sort of neurotic academic type working in a fictional NYC art museum. I also found a great many hysterical, laugh-out-loud moments. The humor here won't be for everyone, but it certainly felt Made For Me.

Stella is complex. Sympathetic but in no way perfect. She's going through a tough time, and muc
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: literary fiction fans who like mystery & those who love all things Preservation Society
Stella Krakus is having a rough week and is in the midst of an existential crisis (personal & professional). Her soon to be ex-husband, Whit, is being difficult, she's also at a confusing crossroads with her occasional hook up and colleague Fred. Her mother is adding to the pile by simply being herself and then there's the small matter of Paul, a colleague who was as much a work friend as Stella has, that's gone missing though no one at CeMArt seems much to care or at least, tepidly worry. There ...more
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SPOILER If you finished the book: What was Paul up to? 3 13 Feb 11, 2020 09:36PM  

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Lucy Ives is the author of several books of poetry and short prose, including The Hermit and the novella nineties. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Lapham’s Quarterly, and at For five years she was an editor with the online magazine Triple Canopy. A graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University. She teac ...more

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