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theguardian - 7 days ago

My First Book by Honor Levy review – extremely online

Frustration drives in an anxious Zoomer’s tour of the web“My rules for our world weren’t followed.” Thus laments Honor Levy, NYC lit scene enfant terrible, in her debut short story collection, My First Book. Levy’s legislative longing becomes a kind of refrain, revisited and reconstructed throughout the book’s vignettes. These index the worries and fixations of an extremely online young person (Levy is 26): internet love, cancel culture, apocalypse, techno-dystopia, the merits of identity politics, the hatred of identity politics, the increasingly indistinct and inaccessible real life. With each dispatch, Levy’s stand-ins contend with this battering frustration: there are, Levy is sure, rules for but no one follows hers, and she can’t figure out theirs. How is she supposed to play?Levy’s business is dowsing for truth in a frantic modernity, where sensations once bodily and sufferable, like love and longing, are filtered away into digital sediment and inscrutable signifiers. The collection’s first piece, Love Story, is a peek at an online romance between a feral young woman (Levy describes her inhabiting a number of animal states, among them “mouse mode” and “rotting fox”) and a young man torn between the vexed humours of internet masculinity (“kamikaze mode”, “chill sigma”, “xenoestrogenic alienation”). For Levy, narration is an inter­dimensional road map, winding through space and time, combining as signposts her two decades of encyclopedic meme knowledge interspersed with curveball references to antiquity. “She’d be his cat-girl gf, his tradwife,” she writes. Later, “he was Pyramus. She was Thisbe.” But there’s no crack in the wall here, and really there are no walls – these lovers’ containment is digital. They sit alone at their computers, decomposing and calling to each other through the wormhole of the internet. Continue reading...


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