Looker by Laura Sims
Genre: Fiction / Psychological
Published: 8 January, 2019 by Scribner Books
Swathi’s Rating: 4/5
Verdict: A very well written dark and witty Novella.
I received a very galley of this book so much ahead of its publication next year. Ever since that, this one has been gaining so much praise everywhere and I had to contain my excitement and save it for my November haul, as it’s a bit close to January!!! It took me 2 days to read this 196 page slender Novella – it’s fast paced, and very well written in a unique style of Narration. Scroll down to read the plot I am talking about, and a detailed review!
I’ve never crossed their little fenced-in garden, of course. I stand on the sidewalk in front of the fern-and-ivy-filled planter that hangs from the fence—placed there as a sort of screen, I’m sure—and have a direct line of view into the kitchen at night. I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds. That’s how confident they are. No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think. And they’re probably right: except for me.
In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the beautiful, famous actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, they are separated by a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.
When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Darkly witty and searingly sharp, Looker is enormously entertaining—part tightly coiled Hitchcockian thriller and part send-up of life in the Instagram-ready city. Driven by a fresh and fearlessly original voice, this slender novel packs a powerful punch.Amazon
“Laura Sims’ sharp debut novel is a thriller about an unhealthy fixation between neighbors, one that’s propelled by the unnamed narrator’s unraveling as she descends into a vortex of resentment and obsession.”
—Southern Living, Best New Books Winter 2019
“Jealousy rears its ugly head in Sims’s chilling and riveting debut. In this tightly plotted novel, Sims takes the reader fully into the mind of a woman becoming increasingly unhinged, and turns her emotionally fraught journey into a provocative tale about the dangers of coveting what belongs to another.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Readers fond of protagonists who profess to guzzling wine at nine a.m. will breeze right through this one’s bad decisions, moments of shocking clarity and cruelty, and—no spoilers!—total undoing. A dark and stylish drama featuring a self-aware yet unstable narrator.”
“Sims’s debut is a breathless and unrelenting portrait of one woman’s unraveling.”
—Greer Hendricks, New York Times bestselling co-author of The Wife Between Us
“A perfect, dark pleasure…propelled by a woman whose obsession with a famous actress spurs one irredeemable trespass after another. A rare debut filled with gorgeous sentences, savory twists, and shot through with ferocious truths, this is the kind of book that can only be written by an author who is thrillingly unafraid.”
—Mona Awad, author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
“With an agile precision reminiscent of Lydia Davis, Laura Sims captures the obsessiveness of a woman who unravels after the collapse of her marriage. A taut, gripping portrait, all the more sinister for its elegance.”
—Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks
“Like Polanski’s “Repulsion,” Laura Sims’s intense, gripping first novel shoehorns us into a gathering sense of dread, heightened at every turn by our sympathy for her relentlessly unraveling protagonist. The precise, observant writing slips through the skin without ever calling attention to itself.”
—Peter Straub, author of A Dark Matter and Interior Darkness
“A tightly coiled novel about the poison of resentment. With arresting candor, Laura Sims reveals how fatally it can destroy one’s relationship to the world.”
—Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew
“This riveting cautionary tale chronicles the catastrophic downward spiral of a woman whose situation exposes the fragility of human happiness. In language as piercing as the story itself, Sims offers an intense portrait of obsession. Looker is the work of a fierce and fearless writer.”
—Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat
Laura Sims is the author of LOOKER, a debut novel, forthcoming from Scribner in January 2019. She has also published four books of poetry, including Staying Alive, and is the editor of Fare Forward: Letters from David Markson. She lives outside of New York City with her family.
This review is going to be relatively shorter than my normal reviews, because of the slenderness of the Novel itself and I do not want to give away the story!
What is new?
The narration technique is new and unique! It’s the main character talking to you, more like a journal of her daily events. Some of the entries are very honest and straight from heart that the readers (especially women) could easily connect to the emotions of this unnamed character. Speaking of which, none of the characters (except only two) in the novel have names – Just initials to identify them! YES, that’s different, won’t you say?
What to expect?
Expect not a dense and detailed story, but a very short instance of it. This could very well be a recorded set of events in a person’s life or picked from a Journal! Expect gorgeous lines that can be quoted for life! It’s dark and witty making me laugh at inappropriate times. After a while I realised, it’s been written THAT way!
What is missing?
I wouldn’t say I missed anything while/after reading this story. I knew exactly what I opted to read – a women’s fiction, not a Crime thriller. SO I didn’t expect a kickass beginning and a mind blowing climax to whet my curiosity! I did wish the book was a bit longer than 192 pages, but anything longer than this would have been draggy and unnecessary (just my opinion of course!)
Do I recommend it?
Absolutely! This is for Women like me who would love honest, and witty binge reads!!
With this note, I am signing off to read my current novel. It’s also a Contemporary Women’s Fiction and I am loving every bit of it! I can’t share my thoughts with y’all! Until next time. Xo.