THE PISCES by Melissa Broder

From the Back Cover

Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout.  After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer.  Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection.
Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night.  But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn.  A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

My Thoughts

I LOVE fiction that has a tiny element of bizarre (think Ottessa Mosfegh or Haruki Murakami) and THE PISCES definitely fits that bill!!  Broder’s novel follows 38 year-old Lucy, and, essentially, her severe mid-life crisis.  As the novel opens, Lucy has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend and been told she may (finally) lose funding on the thesis she’s been working on for a decade if she fails to produce a draft soon.  She escapes to her sister’s house in Venice Beach, dog-sitting and going to group therapy, and just when you think Lucy’s finally getting her shit together, she meets a swimmer on the beach late one night who turns out to be a mermaid.

“Maybe [the ocean and I] were on the same side, comprised of the same things, water mostly, also mystery.  The ocean swallowed things up–boats, people–but it didn’t look outside itself for fulfillment.  It could take whatever skimmed its surface or it could leave it.  In its depths already lived a whole world of who-knows-what.  It was self-sustaining.  I should be like that.  It made me wonder what was inside of me.”

THE PISCES seems like the perfect book to read on a beach; not only is it set at Venice Beach and feature hunky erotic merman, but it’s also fast-paced and direct while still being highly literary.  I flew threw this book; Broder’s storytelling is easy to get lost in.  I will say main character Lucy definitely really annoyed me after a while–especially after how much she neglected Dominic, her sister’s dog–but that doesn’t necessarily take away from my appreciation of Broder’s prose.

“People said that you could will a mood into being or will it away.  Just think positively.  But I never felt that way.  My moods were their own entities, even if no one could understand why they were there.  That was what made me scared of feelings.  I realized now what I had to do, in spite of what others said, was not try to change a mood but surrender to it.  I had to surrender to whatever feelings arrived and in doing so I could maybe ride them, floating on the waves.”

Broder has a very distinct voice that I really fell in love with.  I know I’ll be looking into more of her work in the future!


  1. Literary Elephant

    YES, I’m so glad you loved this one! I thought it was just the right amount of weird mixed with literary, and even though I didn’t like the main character I found her so fun to follow. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

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