We Were the Universe: A novel (Hardcover)

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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).

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 reminds Kit only of everything she’s lost lately: her wildness, her independence, and—most heartbreaking of all—her sister, Julie, who died a few years before.

When she returns 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.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, Kimberly King Parsons won the 2020 National Magazine Award for fiction. Her debut collection, Black Light (2019), was longlisted for the National Book Award and the Story Prize, and her fiction has been published in The Paris Review. 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
“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

"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. Utterly breathtaking to the final moment.”
—Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot and Madwoman