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THE PAPER WASP by Lauren Acampora Kirkus Star


by Lauren Acampora

Pub Date: June 11th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2941-3
Publisher: Grove

In this thrilling debut novel, a young woman with big but unfocused ambitions moves to Los Angeles to become the personal assistant to her childhood best friend, a rising Hollywood starlet.

Brilliant Abby never really made it out of her childhood bedroom in Michigan. Her vivid dream life and teenage obsession with the surrealist filmmaker Auguste Perren have pinned her in one place while she grows ever more detached and depressed. "The walls around my dream life leaked," Abby admits, early in the novel. "My night visions were three-dimensional, lavishly detailed scenes, feature-length films." But when Elise Van Dijk, Abby's childhood best friend and a now-famous actress, returns home for their 10-year high school reunion, her near-erotic dreams of reconnection take on the contours of reality. Weeks after the reunion, Abby hops a plane to LA and shows up out of the blue at Elise's gated front door, where she resumes her role as best friend, confidante, and support system. "I was simply there to listen, to groan in sympathy and glow with pride....I loved the sound of your voice. Whatever its petty grievances or vacuous prattle, I would have been happy to hear it forever." Acampora (The Wonder Garden, 2015) writes propulsive sentences at a fever pitch, guiding the reader through Abby's dream world as she hunts for corresponding clues in a reality of her own making. Told in the second person, the novel is by turns a confession, an accusation, and a stalker's diary, yet it is also grounded by Acampora's musings on philosophy, art, and ambition. While there are more novels than ever dedicated to obsessive female friendship, Acampora takes a relationship story that could have been reduced to petty jealousy and turns it into something bigger and weirder, as if David Lynch had astral projected into the work of Melissa Broder. This is the Los Angeles of weird cults and day-drunk stars, of struggling documentary filmmakers and mysterious but powerful directors. By turns demented, sad, and frightening, Abby is a unique heroine making all the wrong choices feel somehow right and just.

Utterly bizarre and completely bewitching, this twisted, delicious tale will grab you from the first page and hurl you over the edge.