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Topics of Conversation: A novel Hardcover – January 7, 2020
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From the Publisher
"Sally Rooney-esque... Popkey's sentences careen breathlessly as her halting, staccato prose mirrors the "churning" within the narrator's mind... Her manner of parceling out information evoke at times the fragmentary and diaristic sensibilities of Jenny Offill's "Dept. of Speculation"... a shrewd record of the act of unflinchingly circling these amorphous notions of pain, desire and control."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Slim but potent... has the flavor of Rachel Cusk... provocative... sure to spark conversation."
--The New Yorker
"As she explores her own history through a shifting lens of female rivalries and friendships, the book's surface coolness begins to peel away, revealing the raw, uncommon nerve of a radically honest storyteller."
"Electrifying... Shrewd and sensual, Popkey's debut carries the scintillating charge of a long-overdue girls' night."
--O, The Oprah Magazine
“Popkey’s lyrical debut novel reads like a series of short stories: Over the span of 20 years, an unnamed narrator has conversations with an eclectic set of women — conversations about shame and love, sexuality and power. Envy and guilt. Motherhood. Loneliness. The slim book is smart and raw, and Popkey dives head-on into difficult, well — how else to say it? — topics of conversation.”
--The Washington Post
“Masterfully controlled, delightfully chilly”
--The Boston Globe
“Each of the chapters in this exacting, exhilarating debut novel records a deeply intimate discussion the capricious, now-38-year-old narrator has had over nearly two decades with friends, maternal figures, and later, fellow single mothers. Our guess is that this book will be the topic of many conversations in 2020.”
--O The Oprah Magazine
“Formally adventurous and blisteringly current, this debut novel spanning almost two decades of conversations between women wrestles with the stories women tell about desire, friendship, and violence, among other subjects. In glittering prose, Popkey illuminates the performative nature of storytelling, assessing the degree to which the stories we tell about our lives are fictions.”
"Icily intelligent... A novel full of astute descriptions of wanting and being wanted, of desire that contradicts, demands, eats itself, turns inside out, subsides into a kind of aching tenderness... The questions it asks are about how women make sense — or don’t, or can’t — of the ways they’ve been limited, controlled and intoxicated by male standards of desire, make reading “Topics of Conversation” as thrilling as being told a secret."
--The San Francisco Chronicle
“In this perceptive, biting debut novel that's perfect for Sally Rooney fans, readers follow an unnamed narrator over two decades of her life via conversations she has with other women about desire, relationships, sex, and motherhood. There's much to relate to and dogear in this slim book.”
"An intimate evisceration of our narrow imaginings of female sexuality, a brilliantly structured character study, and a book that repeatedly asks how women can fully trust their own desires when they've grown up steeped in the wrong stories. Its narrator is as skeptical of her own self-delusive fictions as she is of the stifling cliches and shallow fantasies about women's interior lives perpetuated by the wider culture."
-–Karen Russell, author of Orange World
“A pleasingly unsentimental novel about attraction and repulsion and the fluid line between the two. Popkey writes about these emotional eddies with such thrilling detachment you’ll wonder why you ever worried about love at all.”
--Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
“Penetrating, brutal, a brilliant new voice in contemporary fiction.”
--Ben Marcus, author of Notes from the Fog
“In luminous prose, Popkey explores the intricacies of love and desire and female friendship. The voices in this novel are as insistent as the longing voice that comes from within, and every page sparks with intelligence.”
--Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of Night at the Fiestas
"Bedazzling…a slender volume with the power of lightning.”
"A book of ideas—about power and gender, about desire, about loneliness and rage—but it is also, at its core, a novel about storytelling, about the quest for a stable narrative that can explain us to others and to ourselves...A rich and rigorous dissection of how we construct who we are."
"Nonetheless a searing and cleverly constructed novel and a fine indication of what’s to come from this promising author."
About the Author
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Hardcover : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525656286
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525656289
- Dimensions : 4.6 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
- Publisher : Knopf (January 7, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #91,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Her mentors wrote positive reviews, they're on the back cover.
One of the reviewers wrote that the main character is "Unlikable." Actually, the main character is shallow, fickle, heartless, self-destructive and untrustworthy. Another reviewer implied that the men in her life caused her suffering. The pain and frustration she expresses are caused by her arrogance and self-sabotage. She is educated but unable to deal with the barrage of thoughts spewing out of her head. The conversations are actually gossip, meddling banter.
The character is propped up by her therapist, booze, ciggies, and parents she can run to for money for tuition, a mortgage or anything else she needs to help her appear independent and strong. I know young women like her, pathetic as they are.
Young men should read this book if they suspect that a female acquaintance is chronically confused, heartless, fickle and devoid of affection and empathy. Wait until it is in the discount paperback bin in a couple of months.
What I got was chapters of one narrator droning on for pages and pages while smoking a cigarette. Whatever point the narrator is trying to make is buried under layers and layers of disjointed thoughts. The book, reads, like this, page after page, of, unnecessary commas. The author could have pared these "topics of conversation" down into amusing exchanges between a few women participating in a discussion; she seemingly chose instead to transcribe rambling stories from the mouths of the stoned or drunk. Rarely do I feel like I've wasted my time and money on reading, but this book did that for me.