No Happy Nonsense

I Fear My Pain Interests You / Stephanie LaCava

January 17th, 2023 | Quick Thoughts

Margot Highsmith is an aspiring actress (or just, actress?) and the daughter of two infamous musicians, her mother and father. Dad was a punk rocker, mom was in the band with dad before breaking off to do her own thing. Mom and Dad are split up. Josephine, Margot's grandma, is her agent. Margot is incapable of feeling pain; a rare disease called something something something and she can barely feel anything at all.

The book is mostly like a stream of consciousness novel, but refined slightly. Perfectly curated as any proud millenial or gen z'r would be naturally inclined to do when talking about their life.

Margot hooks up with the Director, who is like 47 or 57 (she's in her 20's). It's an emotionally shitty/abusive relationship. She craves his attention, he seems to barely care.

She goes to Wyoming to live in her friends parents place, a big ritzy mountain town mansion type deal. She gets blasted by rock scatter on the highway while riding a bike and has a gnarly leg wound but doesn't know it, since she can't feel it. She stops at a graveyard and meets a dude by chance. He takes her to the hospital. He never gives his name, so she refers to him as "Graves."

She and Graves start banging. He is a former trauma surgeon and also a film student? They bang a lot. At one point he secretly like cuts her on the back while they're having sex and then tapes it back up?

That's basically the whole story.

I didn't hate it, but it really just felt pointless to read. LaCava calls them "feel-bad" stories but it really just felt like I was reading the diary of a generic 20 year old woman who lives in the city. It didn't feel overtly violent or traumatic or whatever, as the novel is kind of sold as. It felt like alt-lit poets from Twitter circa 2012 resurrected from the dead and wrote a novel.

The premise is good, actress who can't feel anything, and has emotional detachment/attachment issues. But it just...doesn't deliver. The majority of the book takes places retrospectively, and it's just these prolonged out moments between Margot and one other character. It's almost like nothing exists in her world if she's not interacting with that person. It just felt flat, empty.

Filed Under: Reviews