Maeve Fly
June 26, 2023 9:22 PM - Subscribe

By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child’s favorite ice princess. By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes.

But when the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet, Maeve ditches her discontented act and tries on a new persona. A bolder, bloodier one, inspired by the pages of American Psycho.
posted by miss-lapin (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This book is not for the faint of heart. The narrator at one point re-enacts one of Patrick Bateman's more tortuous killings among other things. Having said that, what make this different from American Psycho is I found the narrator far more likable. Bateman has completely shed his humanity, but Maeve has not. Certainly not as much as she thinks she has. And Maeve's loneliness and rage is understandable, even if her response to it is absolutely obscene.

Consistently referencing an extremely popular work of horror runs is risky and I'm not entirely sure the risk was worth it here. The novel does criticize modern life (the whole fake vs real manifests in the setting, Maeve's "hobby" of outing racists online as well as her job) but it doesn't feel as biting as the commentary in American Psycho. And Maeve, uncharacteristically, doesn't comment on the "what is actual real?" aspect of the novel, which is relevant in a world so full of pretense. The novel seems to stay on the surface rather than really dive into that. Or for Maeve to address mimicking a killer who is so openly misogynistic as she does at length reflect on the dearth of violent female villains. The novel would have worked better without her overtly styling herself as Bateman and just keep a few references here and there.

But this is a debut novel, and a stunning one at that. Part of wanting the novel to go deeper was also wanting it to be longer, which is the greatest compliment I can pay a book. I look forward to reading what C J Leede writes in the future.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

This one has been provisionally on my to-read list but I never did read American Psycho and I wonder whether that will be a detriment to enjoying this? (I did see the movie, though. Actually, American Psycho isn't exactly Tolstoy, maybe I'll just go ahead and try to read this.)
posted by whir at 11:51 PM on June 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

In terms of American Psycho the book is different from the movie-I'll avoid saying more to avoid spoilers. There is one literary device in AP that is also used in Maeve-specifically talking in detail about the history of a song. In AP there are whole chapters dedicated to a minute history of the band Genesis or the development of vhs. Basically Bateman's fascination and focus on material things,that he cares more about objects than people. In Maeve these sections are smaller, usually just a paragraph, but a clear tie back to AP. I don't think if you haven't read AP, you can't really appreciate Maeve. And AP is a significantly more difficult book to read. I put it down with the intention of not picking it up again several times, but managed to finish it. But it's not a book I would recommend lightly.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:11 AM on June 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ok, well I read this, without the benefit of American Psycho (the novel), and I liked it! Maeve was an interesting narrator, and I liked the Sunset Boulevard-during-Halloween ambiance. I also appreciated the full-throated defense of LA culture that was in there (although considering Maeve as the source of it, I'm not sure how much to consider it a sort of back-handed compliment to LA culture). I did notice she trotted out the "Patrick Bateman describes Huey Lewis" bit at least three times (once directly to the reader, once to Liz and Andre in the car, then again just to Liz or maybe Derek), but it's a good bit.

I enjoy a misanthropic narrator, and I liked Maeve's description of "the child's warmth sickeningly lingering on my skin" at one point. I have to admit that all that DeSade / Batialle "ooh, I'm so transgressive" stuff leaves me a little cold, though, personally. I mean, not everyone needs to like the same stuff, but if you're already vibing with The Underground Man I don't really see how sticking an egg up your butt gets you that much closer to the point.

I liked this most as a story about the friendship between Maeve and Kate, and I wound up feeling a little let down or something by how much Maeve goes head over heels for Gideon, like there's a little undercurrent of "there's some romantic partner out there for everyone" that seems at odds with Maeve's own caustic world-view. Relatedly, I'm also not sure I ever totally got just what Maeve's genuine love of the Disney illusion and pretense was about, as it also seems at odds with her general "I alone see through all the bullshit" attitude. And Gideon himself seemed a little underbaked, as a character, which just reinforced the weird "love conquers all" undertone.

Maeve, uncharacteristically, doesn't comment on the "what is actual real?" aspect of the novel

I have to admit that for a while I was wondering whether her killing of the nurse was just a sort of fantasy, but as the violence got more and more integral to the plot it became a little too unwieldy to try to construct an alternate reality where it was all in her head. I did think "The Bartender" at the tiki bar was a pretty obvious tip of the hat to the hallucinatory bartender from The Shining, though. And I'm still not sure what to make of the black-haired girl who looks just like Maeve and at first seems to be placing the dolls around LA.

Anyways, I enjoyed this, thanks for posting it!
posted by whir at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2023 [1 favorite]

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