A Novel That Will Get People Talking

A Novel That Will Get People Talking

Who wouldn’t want to have time to feel like a giant ear?

You’re a little bit jealous of this woman until you realize how miserable she is. She has exactly what she thought she wanted, but the next phase of her life unfolds hypnotically as “Indelicacy” morphs from a modern “Pygmalion” into a fable infused with an old-fashioned moral: Be careful what you wish for.

But don’t get the wrong idea; it’s not all doom and gloom. Cain’s story has its funny moments, as when the narrator gets drunk and waltzes with a pal; or when she tells two authors at a reading what she really thinks of them. (This part is also kind of mean.) You’ll notice how she seems happy only when she’s with her friends, Antoinette and Dana. Aside from the maid, they’re among the only people Cain names, and the only ones our narrator genuinely cares about.

“Indelicacy” makes you think about creativity, friendship and the nature of time. I will admit, I got a C in the one philosophy class I ever took, so if I felt compelled to mull over the questions at the heart of this small but mighty book, you will too.

Cain’s tale made me want to grab a highlighter, and it transported me to a different part of my life, one where I collected lines of verse — hi, Adrienne Rich! hi, Mary Oliver! — and stored them in the part of my brain now overtaken by passwords and the orthodontist’s phone number.

“Indelicacy” is not escapist reading, but it is fuel, pushing you to do the thing you love. For me, that was writing this review. Like a patient gym teacher coaching a lazy student, Cain whispered beautiful words into her megaphone, and I listened. You will, too.

[ Read an excerpt from “Indelicacy.” ]

How did you imagine the narrator’s life beyond what was on the page? Did you feel a connection to the narrator, and did it matter?

What does this book tell you about the nature of inspiration? Does it bloom where it’s planted or only flourish under certain conditions?