Margot's inability to feel physical pain is due to a rare congenital birth defect. Margot's inability to feel emotional pain is due to... trauma. Lots and lots of trauma. A reflection on bodily autonomy and what we owe those closest to us, this slim novel redefines what it means to be comfortably numb.
A punky, raw novel of millenial disaffection, trauma and 1960s cinema
Margot is the child of renowned musicians and the product of a particularly punky upbringing. Burnt-out from the burden of expectation and the bad end of the worst relationship yet, she leaves New York and heads to to the Pacific Northwest. She’s seeking to escape both the eyes of the world and the echoing voice of that last bad man. But a chance encounter with a dubious doctor in a graveyard, and the discovery of a dozen old film reels, opens the door to a study of both the peculiarities of her body and the absurdities of her famous family.
A literary take on cinema du corps, Stephanie LaCava’s new novel is an audaciously sexy and moving exploration of culture and connections, bodies and breakdowns.
About the Author
Stephanie LaCava is a writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Harper's, Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Vogue, and Interview. Her debut novel, The Superrationals, was published by Semiotext(e) in 2020.
“The cool girl book of the year.” —Jordan Richman, 032c
“The hard, clipped, and cool voice that speaks from within Stephanie LaCava’s I Fear My Pain Interests You will live in my head for a long time. Here is a novel that seems to shrug off the pain of being young and adrift in the world, while secretly, it draws you into the dark recesses of loneliness and disillusionment. I fear her book will destroy you.” —Merve Emre
“I can’t wait to be lured into another of LaCava’s stylized settings, this time an exploration of 1960s cinema and bodily absurdities.” —Vulture (“49 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2022”)
“From LaCava’s gentle and affectless prose a sharp critical vision lurches into focus: of culture as commodity, of suffering as currency, and of the female body as this agon’s generalised battleground.” —Tom McCarthy
“I haven’t read a book in a while that just pulled me in, and you’re so immersed in the characters and in the world. It’s quite a slice of life.” —Kaia Gerber, Vanity Fair
“The daughter of punk rockstars, with a jeweled cigarette case full of pills and a bloody face, flees to Montana for a quieter life—only to uncover her congenital inability to feel pain, which puts her at risk of one man’s desire and ambition, in this absurdist novel about fame and bodies.” —Nylon (September 2022’s “Must Read Book Releases”)
“It’s the liquid flush of the voice undulating beneath the veneer of the book’s punky mask that drew me in.” —Adele Bertei, Brooklyn Rail
“Whether it’s [Margot’s] pain or her detachment that fascinates us, I Fear My Pain Interests You examines issues of power, how it is or is not inherited, what the consequences of being defined by others are, and the ways pain shapes us. “ —Ilana Masad, BOMB
“Understated and elegant, LaCava’s writing inspires both dread and longing; her characters, nearly all of them direct to the point of cruelty, also seem unable to say anything that would lead to real emotional connection. The horrors of this book build so subtly that their apex seems both unfathomable and inevitable, like a deep fear that finally comes to pass. “ —Corinne Segal, Lit Hub (“22 Novels You Need to Read this Fall”)
“LaCava’s book animates its story with something of Patricia Highsmith’s sociopathology and Clarice Lispector’s macabre glamor.” —J.C. Holburn, XRAY
“Nonlinear in format and stark in its use of language, this brief but impactful novel is going to stay with me for a while. I Fear My Pain Interests You is a stark and singularly unforgettable read.” —David Vogel, Buzzfeed
“Stunning … I Fear My Pain Interests You is slim but satisfying, with LaCava as our talented chef who won’t let us forget whose bones we’re gnawing on.” —Jessa Crispin, The Times
“Elegant … [I Fear My Pain Interests You] is seeded with references to jazz music and to body-horror French arthouse film, and these frame LaCava’s attempt to do something transformative with violence and suffering.” —Daisy Hildyard, Guardian
“[I Fear My Pain Interests You] sets up inheritances—of privilege, or trauma—as stages for exploring the masochistic relationships between self-awareness and pain.” —Jessica Loudis, Times Literary Supplement
“LaCava approaches her second novel, I Fear My Pain Interests You, as the next logical step beyond our obsession with a sad-girl world. The kind of dissociative feminism she skewers is a well-documented media phenomenon. Rather than further suggesting distance and aloofness like the cool-girl trope, LaCava inverts this concept to lift Margot away from the trappings of commodification.” —Caitlin Quinlan, The Cut
“[I Fear My Pain Interests You] considers what it means to be a woman in the world, as well as pain, sex, fear, corporeal or otherwise, and maybe even love as well.” —Grace Linden, Chicago Review of Books
“Like a lyric from a cherished song or a fragment from a beloved poem, I Fear My Pain Interests You hints at all the most compelling themes—hurting, intrigue, dominance, submission, lust, and dysfunction.” —Emily Dinsdale, AnOther
“I Fear My Pain Interests You is meticulously constructed, with each part supporting and supported by the others. Controlled self-awareness like this in novels makes me pay close attention, enriching my experience.” —Tao Lin, New York Times