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Catalina

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3.34  ·  Rating details ·  544 ratings  ·  115 reviews
A magnetic, provocative debut novel chronicling a young woman's downward spiral following the end of an affair

Elsa Fisher is headed for rock bottom. At least, that's her plan. She has just been fired from MoMA on the heels of an affair with her married boss, and she retreats to Los Angeles to blow her severance package on whatever it takes to numb the pain. Her abandoned c
...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by FSG Originals
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Reggie This is a guy who grew up in a small town, but when your friends are hurting in the ways that Charly was hurting, you don’t give them drugs. Elsa even…moreThis is a guy who grew up in a small town, but when your friends are hurting in the ways that Charly was hurting, you don’t give them drugs. Elsa even says it later. I gave her drugs when I should have given her friendship. (less)

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3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  544 ratings  ·  115 reviews


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Larry H
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars here, so I'll round up.

Why is it so fascinating to read about people in the midst of crises, mostly of their own design? Is it like rubbernecking as you pass a gruesome accident on the highway, that can't-look-but-can't-look-away feeling? Or is it more the reinforcement of how lucky we are that our lives aren't that bad, a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God moment?

Whatever the reason, reading about people whose lives are a mess can be fascinating. And if you look in the d
...more
Theresa Alan
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I call room service and order another Bloody Mary, which, I tell myself, is basically a salad.”

After being fired from working as an assistant at the MoMa, Elsa returns to California where she meets up with her college friends, including her ex-husband, Robby, who is dating a triathlete, and, though he seems happy with Jane, also seems to pine for Elsa. Her other friend, Charlotte “Charly” has a strained relationship with her husband.

Elsa constantly pops pills she stole from her mother. She doe
...more
AnisaAnne
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
See my reviews on WP: https://anisabookreviews.wordpress.co...

Elsa Fischer is taking refuge from her fractured life in Manhattan. Armed with her friends in Santa Monica, Bloody Marys, and Mother’s pharmacy Elsa is trying to deal with a recent breakup and job loss. The affair ended abruptly, as well as the job, as they were part of each other. But Elsa is a category five hurricane of self-destruction. Only her friends and her ex-husband are unaware of the gale force winds on the sail to Catalina
...more
Bonnie
Apr 24, 2017 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-netgalley
DNF @ 3%

I read a single chapter of this book. It was enough. Catalina is the story of Elsa Fisher, a woman that spirals out of control after her affair with her married boss is discovered. She returns home, to a place where she never wanted to return to, to people she never wanted to see again, but she slips easily back into that life. Except everything is a tragedy because well, life is just so hard.

“Charly? She will definitely want to go shopping. And we will get Frappuccinos with skim milk,
...more
Karen
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CATALINA WRITTEN BY LISKA JACOBS

Elsa Fisher has just been offered a very generous severance package to leave her dream job in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art. Why was Elsa fired from the best job she has ever wanted? Her boss is a married man for 27 years named Eric who Elsa thinks she loves and she also thinks he loves her. Could that be the reason Human Resources is saying the museum is cutting back on jobs. Elsa leaves her beloved life and flies home to reunite with a group of her c
...more
Britta Böhler
Women seeking salvation through men. Pretty boring.
Michelle
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
A sad tale of a young woman that has hit rock bottom. Elsa has recently been let go of her dream job at MoMa because she was having an affair with her very married boss. She is absolutely devastated. She flies home to California where she reunites with not only her family but her college best friends. She spends her days in a complete haze due to self medicating with an array of pills, lots of alcohol, cocaine, and random sex with strangers which will lead her to devastating consequences.

It's h
...more
Jessica Sullivan
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
I don't know what it is about these kinds of books that captivates me so thoroughly, but reading about unlikeable, self-destructive women is such a shamefully guilty pleasure of mine.

Elsa, the main character in this one, is horrible. Her friends are horrible. Everyone in this book is horrible, and I couldn't look away.

After getting fired from her job at the MoMA for having an affair with her boss, Elsa uses her generous severance package to fund a trip back to her college town in LA, where she r
...more
OutlawPoet
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Catalina is not a feel good book.

It’s beautifully written, lush, and incredibly depressing.

I didn’t like Elsa. There were times I almost liked her, but in the end I hated her.

The book has shades of Valley of the Dolls. The characters are so very desperate to not feel anything at all. Elsa in particular lives on pills and admiration – she barely allows herself an identity beyond those. And it’s so very sad that so many men want to sleep with her, but also hold her in contempt.

As you read about
...more
rachel
Jun 24, 2018 marked it as abandoned
Abandoning this one around page 80. I usually love books about difficult people, but this is reading rather flat for me right now, and sympathy for wealthy, beautiful people living beautiful sun-drenched lives is especially hard these days, even though they have the same interpersonal problems we all do.
Jessica
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars is maybe a little generous, but this debut took me by complete surprise. An almost Greek tragedy set against the scalding and scandalous backdrop of contemporary LA, we follow the instantly unlikeable Elsa hitting a downward spiral. Sparked by being fired from her swanky New York museum job, she’s bitter and wistful for the married boss who is the cause of this sudden predicament. She’s a freshly dyed redhead, popping a cocktail of pills, and hooking up with bad boys on the beach. We ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
I’m thinking, Who is this Elsa? Her name is so sterile and dead. It’s not me.

Elsa Fisher is a controlled disaster, her forbidden affair with her boss has reached it’s bitter end. She has been fired from her job at MoMA as executive assistant to the talented Eric Reindheart, what else to do but return home to Los Angeles and party with her friends, sail to Catalina and slowly self-destruct? With pills, booze, young hot guys, anything to keep real
...more
Katy (Katyslibrary)
3.5/5 stars!

Thank you so much FSG Originals for sending me a copy of Catalina by Liska Jacobs in exchange for an honest review! A look into the life of someone who is completely spiraling out of control leads to a quick twisted read and the realization that at any time any of us could lose our way just as easily.

This book hooked my interest right away.  Main character Elsa is the storm wreaking havoc that you cannot look away from.  I wanted to know what she was going to do next, why her life h
...more
Megan Eccles
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
https://instagram.com/p/BbiE_XVATRq/

Catalina is an incredible novel in the aftermath of Elsa's life falling apart. Every single character is full fleshed and real in their wanting. It's all a beautiful, painful mess that left me in a terrible state of ennui. Jacobs is masterful in her word play. Catalina is more than a story. It's a work of art. A stunning debut.


*I received an ARC of Catalina. My opinions are my own.
Jaclyn Crupi
‘She should know it’s a dangerous thing to be a woman. We want things, just like everyone else. Power, control, success – more than the world has to offer us. So we shove it down, hush it up, hope that it doesn’t tear us apart. I should tell her this but I’m worried she might not feel the same – that she is cracking up from not being able to toe the line, whereas I want to destroy it entirely.’ I loved how unapologetic this book is and it had some truly great moments but didn’t entirely work as ...more
Cátia Vieira
Why should you read this book?
Let me just start by stating that Catalina by Liska Jacobs is an incredible debut. And who is Liska Jacobs? The author holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and The Hairpin, among other publications.

Elsa is the main character of this novel and is headed for rock bottom. After being fired from MoMa, she returns to Los Angeles whe
...more
Julie
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
ugh... Elsa is a thirtiesh woman is fired from the MOMA due to downsizing of staff. Or was it because she was having an affair with her boss? She runs back to California to her mother's home in Bakersfield. Along the way she reunites with her ex-husband and other old friends. Elsa is a despicable, drunk, pill popping, selfish person. I really did not like her, the other characters or the weak story line. Don't believe the hype
Sara Marchant
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Catalina is being called 'California noir,' and I understand why, but I think it's more than that. Elsa isn't your typical noir bad girl; she's a woman of our times. Catalina is 'feminist noir.' Catalina is the book for the angry, dangerous, had-it-up-to-here world we find ourselves in-- this world the patriarchy has created. Read it and weep angry tears, I did.
Susan
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I missed something here. Instead of a beautiful portrayal of a woman facing a rough patch in her life, I read the story of a woman who historically ran away from her problems and ran so far she was back at the beginning. I felt no sympathy for the pill popping, booze guzzling Elsa who somehow expected that her affair with her boss would end up any better than her losing her job and not getting the man. I realize this makes me sound rather self-righteous, but isn't that the norm? Why should she e ...more
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is ironic that I read this book, which chronicals a downward spiral, while reading another book which is literally called "Spiraling Upward", by Wendy Wallbridge.
I was pulled in by the descriptions of decadence so real I could smell and taste them. The beautiful scenery and the ugly personalities were an intoxicating mix. I would say there is not a reliable narrator in the bunch of mostly unsavory characters -
neither the slightly sociopathic protagonist or her immature, self indulgent friend
...more
Tess
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a roller coaster of a book. Elsa, a pill-popping beautiful young woman has been fired at her job at the MoMA, is forced to leave her boss (who she is also having an affair with) and head back to California to her hometown and get her life together. However, that is not exactly what happens. Reuniting with her college friends, including her ex-husband, a healing journey is not what she goes on.

It's a beautifully written book, so beautiful that it succeeds in making me dislike the main chara
...more
Tony
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, heartbreaking, and amazing.
Elizabeth
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
This was like watching a train wreck happen in all its gory details.
Meow
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, good-words
I thought this was going ito be one of those hip and trendy novels.... and maybe it is - but it is also a heartbreakingly, painfully, honestly beautifully told story of loss; of a job (for all the wrong reasons), family (the kind of family that makes you never want to come home), friendships (reconnected and then realizing why you disconnected once you reconnect), and loss of an affair romanticized.... and all the things done to excess - pills, drink, and sex - when losing all of the above and r ...more
Michelle
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
A sad tale of a young woman that has hit rock bottom. Elsa has recently been let go of her dream job at MoMa because she was having an affair with her very married boss. She is absolutely devastated. She flies home to California where she reunites with not only her family but her college best friends. She spends her days in a complete haze due to self medicating with an array of pills, lots of alcohol, cocaine, and random sex with strangers which will lead her to devastating consequences.

It's h
...more
Sruskin
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book from first time author Liska Jacobs. Elsa is a totally relatable -- though sometimes it's painful to watch/read her trying to cope with her own self inflicted wounds. The sense of place is so vivid I could smell the ocean air off the California coast from my landlocked East Coast living room. An excellent debut.
Elizabeth
This debut novel is dark, despite its strong sense of place in sunny California. I usually don't like novels with an unlikable protagonist and mostly all other unlikable characters, so it's a testament to Liska Jacobs's abilities that I liked her book. Her narrative moves seamlessly between the past, the present, and even imagined occurrences.

The reader gets a front-row seat for the trainwreck that is Elsa's current life experience. She moves from California to NYC and lands a job at MoMA as an
...more
Tracy (The Pages In-Between)
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Huge thank you to FSG Originals for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review.

I loved this book, I loved and hated the totally unreliable Elsa, her drug induced stupor, the way that she had zero clue on how terrible of a person she truly was. She was oblivious to her selfishness, she was oblivious to anyone, but herself. Her friends, the men in her life, nothing mattered but the pills in her purse. She was so out of it most of the book that she put herself in the most dang
...more
Jim
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, the-west
A stellar addition to the category of novels in which the protagonist leaps headfirst into the void and gleefully circles the drain. Terrific pace and deft character development. Oddly affirming, but that's me.
Joanna
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping, sad, and beautifully written. Looking forward to her next one!
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An LA native, Liska Jacobs’s essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, Literary Hub, Chicago Review of Books, The Millions, and The Hairpin, among other publications. Her first novel CATALINA (MCD | FSG Originals) was featured in Elle Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, W Magazine, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, and listed as a ...more
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“And this trip--I can feel it slipping away already, shifting, changing into whatever is next. God, I'm tired. How exhausting it is to be alive.” 0 likes
“It occurs to me suddenly, maybe learning to settle is part of adulthood. Maybe if you don't, it eats you up.” 0 likes
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