On Writing and Restaurant Labor

Public Books

by Patrick Abatiell

First things first: Tierce is a staggeringly good prose writer. Her novel is successful in large part due to the capacious, rambunctious intelligence she lends to her narrator, who is, as a character, a marvel of self-awareness and self-exposure. She muses, for instance, on a lover: “The strength in him was panther-dark and menacing and in spite of the ordinary green lines across the toes of his dress socks I was too scared of him to get wet.” It is possible, of course, to disappoint without surprising, and in this way critics have tended to refer to these evocations of female sexuality as “shocking,” or to use them as evidence of the novel’s “grittiness.” Love Me Back is not, however, a novel that invests much in shock value. It is impelled, instead, by a shrewd understanding of the world it inhabits. Its attention is unflinching, certainly, but it is also diagnostic, analytical, and wise. [continue]