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CATALINA by Liska  Jacobs


by Liska Jacobs

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-374-11975-1
Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A reckless, self-destructive young woman returns home to sunny Southern California after being cut loose by the boss she’s sleeping with.

Meet Elsa (also Susanna and Ingrid, depending on which one-night stand she’s introducing herself to), a beautiful loser on a dangerous tear. “It’s just past breakfast so I order up a pitcher of Bloody Marys and a bagel.…I shower with my drink and take one of Mother’s Vicodins. Let it begin, I think, rolling myself into one of the hotel bathrobes, the fabric soft and vibrantly white, wonderfully impersonal. Let it begin.” Elsa was given a cushy severance package when she was let go by the Museum of Modern Art, where she had been having an affair with her boss, a top curator, for two years, since the night he learned his son had been killed in Afghanistan. Nice. Now she’s flown to Bakersfield, stolen all her mother’s medications, and is holed up in a swanky hotel in Los Angeles while she reconnects with her old posse, from whom she’s concealing the real reason for her “vacation.” The group includes her ex-husband, Robby, and his buff new girlfriend, Jane; her childhood best friend, Charly, and husband Jared, on shaky ground due to Jared’s roving eye and their difficulty conceiving a child; and a new member of the group, Tom, a slimy work associate of the men whose appeal lies primarily in his yacht. Off they all sail to the island of Catalina, where the lying, drinking, and pill-popping escalate to no good end. The narrative tone of Jacobs’ debut echoes the numbed nihilism of Bret Easton Ellis’ early work, and her protagonist is just as lovely a person as his infamous characters.

For those who appreciate the joys of a vicarious bender and the satisfaction of watching creepy people decompensate.