We Were the Universe: A novel (Hardcover)

We Were the Universe: A novel By Kimberly King Parsons Cover Image

We Were the Universe: A novel (Hardcover)


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A young mother, in denial after the death of her sister, navigates the dizzying landscapes of desire, guilt, and grief in this darkly comic, highly anticipated debut novel from Kimberly King Parsons, author of the story collection, Black Light (long-listed for the National Book Award).

"Kimberly King Parsons sings the lushest, cruelest, kindest, weirdest, darkest and most hilarious songs on paper; I want to hang these sentences in my house and admire them like the interdimensional multisensory illuminated artworks they truly are."
—Karen Russell, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Swamplandia!

The trip was supposed to be fun. When Kit’s best friend gets dumped by his boyfriend, he begs her to ditch her family responsibilities for an idyllic weekend in the Montana mountains. They’ll soak in hot springs, then sneak a vape into a dive bar and drink too much, like old times. Instead, their getaway only reminds Kit of everything she’s lost lately: her wildness, her independence, and—most heartbreaking of all—her sister, Julie, who died a few years ago.

When she returns home to the Dallas suburbs, Kit tries to settle in to her routine—long afternoons spent caring for her irrepressible daughter, going on therapist-advised dates with her concerned husband, and reluctantly taking her mother’s phone calls. But in the secret recesses of Kit’s mind, she’s reminiscing about the band she used to be in—and how they’d go out to the desert after shows and drop acid. She’s imagining an impossible threesome with her kid’s pretty gymnastics teacher and the cool playground mom. Keyed into everything that might distract from her surfacing pain, Kit spirals. As her already thin boundaries between reality and fantasy blur, she begins to wonder: Is Julie really gone?

Neon bright in its insight, both devastating and laugh-out-loud funny, We Were the Universe is an ambitious, inventive novel from a revelatory new voice in American fiction—a fearless exploration of sisterhood, motherhood, friendship, marriage, psychedelics, and the many strange, transcendent shapes love can take.
Kimberly King Parsons is the author of Black Light, a collection of stories that was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. In 2020, she received the National Magazine Award for fiction. Born in Lubbock, Texas, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her partner and children. We Were the Universe is her first novel.
Product Details ISBN: 9780525521853
ISBN-10: 0525521852
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English
A LitHub Most Anticipated Book • A Debutiful Most Anticipated Book 

"A wrenchingly honest novel, full of dark wit and feral delight, about a new mother navigating the trippy, uncharted wilderness between love and grief."
—Jenny Offill, New York Times bestselling author of Weather

“With psychological perspicuity and psychedelic inventiveness, Kimberly King Parsons reveals the shapeshifting nature of grief, the wiliness of desire, the fluidity of linear time, and the truth that what begs to be felt will always find a way to be felt.”
—Melissa Broder, author of Death Valley

"We Were the Universe is a grief-and-lust-and-breastmilk saturated psychedelic journey, a story told in the eternal present of an acid trip and the spiraling everyday life of a young Texan mother, pushing her daughter’s stroller around an unspeakable loss. This novel is a tonal masterpiece, a record I want to spin forever, and I feel so lucky that I can return to its deep magic.”
—Karen Russell, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Swamplandia!

"Parsons is a remarkable talent. She sees right into the maw of the flawed humans that live in her worlds, which is to say, she spies the humanity in all of us. Plus, she’s a prime prose stylist, one whose language never dips below flat-out amazing.” 
—Mitchell S. Jackson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Residue Years and Survival Math
“To read Kimberly King Parsons is to fall in love with the world and all its absurdities. Much like the psychedelics her narrator adores, Parsons's prose is mind-altering—she takes the mundane, dust-sized details of daily existence and expands them into sparkling, technicolor constellations of the human condition. We Were the Universe is horny, wickedly funny, brutal in its exploration of motherhood and loss, the difficulty of keeping yourself from living in the past. At its core though, Parsons’s debut is achingly tender, beautiful and comforting in its assertion that coming of age is a lifelong process.”
—Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl
“Sexy, exuberant, hilarious, and deep, We Were the Universe is a page-turning voyage into the churning waters of early motherhood and lurking grief. This debut novel is a major proclamation by America’s highest caliber fiction stylist; Kimberly King Parsons spares us not a single line, a single word, and beat by beat creates a cosmic music that soars past our expectations of the form, landing us somewhere utterly new. This book is its own trip, one I’d gladly take again and again, finding new meaning and magic each time. Breathtaking to the final moment.”
—Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot and Madwoman

“Parsons’s debut novel follows 25-year-old Kit’s remarkable and original stream of consciousness as it obsessively circles the loss of her younger sister, Julie, who died four years ago while Kit was pregnant… This book seems suggestive evidence of a New Psychedelia, young women writers updating Carlos Castaneda for the 21st century, filling the eternal trippy desert with love and yearning and laughter. Parsons has created a character so appealing in her cheerful brokenness that you won’t want to leave her side for a minute.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred

"Parsons's captivating novel is wholly alert to the untidiness of life, and Kit’s stream of thought is sensationally alive, a heart-wrenching foray into the complexity of loss and identity."

"Parsons’s first book, the wonderful short story collection Black Light... brimmed with world-weary wit, queer yearning, and Hempel-esque sentences so deftly crafted. Her first novel is just as much a marvel, following a horny housewife and young mother who desperately needs time away for and from herself."
—Michelle Hart, Electric Literature