Genre: Adult Literary Thriller
Year Release: 2018
Source: Library Audiobook
Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Alcoholism, murder, drug use, dubious consensual sex, domestic violence, attempted suicide
This book is absolute bananas from start to finish. A worthy entry into books which spiritually remind me of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, Social Creature features Louisa and Lavinia at its core. Louisa is a down-on-her-luck New York City transplant who works several jobs to not even make ends meet until one day, she’s booked as a tutor for Cordelia and meets Lavinia. Lavinia is a socialite who is one a sabbatical from Yale who lives in some kind of alternate universe where everything is beauty and poetry. We know Lavinia dies, and we beat witness to that toxic friendship.
This book has prose that hypnotizes with all the surreal glitz of oblivion. A wild ride from start to finish where having everyone be deeply unlikeable is part of the charm.
Louisa and Lavinia both suck as people. In such a small package, however, Burton delivers rich and fucked up interior lives that drive the plot forward. The part that kept me hooked was the fact that I knew people like this in high school and college, and can definitely see the appeal of “MORE POETRY” with nary a care about the finances of being so extra. There are whispers of the contrast of privilege between Louisa and Lavinia, even though they’re nigh-identical white girls.
It’s impressive how interested I was in the happenings of the characters, even though as people, they all suck on a variety of levels. On dude’s primary problem is that his name is Beowulf Manton, while Hal is an attention-seeking douchebag. But given the dynamic lives, it’s hard to keep your eyes off of it. The command of the present tense throughout also makes it hard to look away.
If you’re into literary thrillers where everyone sucks, I cannot recommend this book enough.