Lucy Corin’s mesmerizing debut novel is a gorgeous, nervy, creepy piece of fiction, a discursive meditation on adolescence and adulthood, innocence and evil, power and vulnerability, violence and tenderness, Eros and Thanatos — and how closely linked they are, these ostensible opposites, in human nature.
Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls, A Novel
Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls examines what it means to grow up curious and irrepressible in a culture of girl-killers. For the narrator of this debut novel, spectacular violence is the idiom of everyday life, a lurid extravaganza in which all those around her seem vicarious participants. And at its center are the interchangeable young girls, thrilling to know themselves the objects of so much desire and terror. The narrative interweaves history, myth, rumor, and news with the experiences of a young girl living in the flatness of South Florida. Like Grace Paley’s narrators, she is pensive and eager, hungry for experience but restrained. Into the sphere of her regard come a Ted Bundy reject, the God Osiris, a Caribbean slave turned pirate, a circus performer living in a box, broken horses, a Seminole chief in a swamp, and a murderous babysitter. What these preposterously commonplace figures all know is that murder is identity: Of course what matters really is the psychokiller, what he’s done, what he threatens to do. Of course to be the lucky one you have to be abducted in the first place. Without him, you wouldn’t exist. Everyday Psychokillers reaches to the edge of the psychoanalytical and jolts the reader back to daily life. The reader becomes the killer, the watcher, the person on the verge, hiding behind an everyday face.
It is an impressive novel: incisive, beautiful, pathological at times, and very dark.
Edgy and erotic. Interestingly psychotic.
Every sentence breathes and moves in this book, illuminating a stunning lyric sensibility not characteristic of thrillers or crime-based historical novels … The text itself is constructed in narrative limbs, once hacked and strewn about, that Corin bandages together to create a whole, new story.
Corin reinhabits American speech like a psychokiller dressed out in a victim’s skin. Her splintered perspective cracks the glossy landscape of commodification to reveal an unsettling intimacy with danger. It seeps through bandages of history and myth like blood from the torn-apart body of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris, falling apart in the arms of his sister-wife Isis. Corin anatomizes the eternal embrace of what saves and what kills, refusing to compromise the complexity of experience and language. There is no escape — not even in irony. Hers is a fully awakened sensibility.
Two girls look at the Venus de Milo. “Somebody has knocked off her arms,” one girl says. “I could do that,” says the other. Dismemberment is the basic fact of the world they grow up in, a world feeding on stories of rape, kidnapping, murder. But the book opens out from our pulp myths into older stories — like that of Osiris, murdered and dismembered. And in this larger, cyclic perspective, killer and killed, kinds of desire, birth and death fuse in the complex act of the telling through which we shape and in turn are shaped. You won’t easily forget this book.