Two crystalline novellas linked by one devastating crime: Say This is an immersive meditation on the interplay between memory, trauma, and narrative.
It’s a cold spring in Baltimore, 2018, when the email arrives: the celebrity journalist hopes Eva will tell him everything about the sexual affair she had as a teen with her older cousin, a man now in federal prison for murder. Thirteen years earlier, Lenore-May answers the phone to the nightmare news that her stepson’s body has been found near Mount Hood, and homicide is suspected. Following Eva’s unsettling ambivalence towards her confusing relationship, and constructing a portrait of her cousin’s victim via collaged perspectives of the slain man’s family, these two linked novellas borrow, interrogate, sometimes dismantle the tropes of true crime; lyrically render the experiences of grief and dissociation; and brilliantly mine the fault lines of power and consent, silence, justice, accountability, and class. Say This is a startling exploration of the devastating effects of trauma on personal identity.
Praise for Say This
“Say This is a breathtaking, daring exploration of that constancy, of the lingering power of trauma, and the roots and branches of violence and despair.”—Toronto Star
“Levine addresses questions of identity and the impact of violence as well as addiction, consent, and society’s exploitation of trauma, and does so in gorgeous, surprising, and utterly gripping prose.”—Elizabeth Hazen, Baltimore Fishbowl
“Elise Levine is a taut and musical writer who experiments boldly and beautifully with form. The fragments of story here refract like a prism, bending and catching the complexity of her characters’ experiences. This is an arresting and powerful book.”—Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens and We Want What We Want
“Every page of Elise Levine’s Say This is a meticulously crafted, crystalline work of high art. These two novellas, fragmented and fractured in a manner that perfectly captures our present reality, are sharp and poetic, suspenseful and engaging. Everything one requires of the best narrative fiction is here, all told in gorgeous prose that commands your attention at every turn.”—Robert Lopez, author of All Back Full
“Elise Levine’s brilliant Say This examines the damage inflicted by one man’s life and another man’s death, as experienced by the people they left behind. Intimate, provocative, and deeply unsettling in their power, these interconnected novellas showcase Levine’s gift for telling stories that readers can’t look away from, wrapped in prose so beautiful and precise.” —Jung Yun, Author of Shelter and O Beautiful
Praise for Elise Levine
“Levine offers a vision and a language so poetically visceral and fiercely poignant—so uniquely intelligent—that story after story I was in awe of her courage and artistry.” —Barbara Gowdy
“Elise Levine writes with a new and exciting type of lyric rhythm. These are stories with the beating heart of poems.” —Rion Amilcar Scott, winner of the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction
“Elise Levine’s startling sentences alternate between serrated sentiment and lyrical reverie, offering readers that rarest commodity—genuine surprise.” —Jeff Jackson, author of Destroy All Monsters
“Elise Levine uses language like a scalpel to cut to the nervy core of our inner life. There’s a restless desolation in these stories, perfectly poised against a wily, wry wit. This Wicked Tongue is wicked smart.” —Dawn Raffel, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney
“Taut, musical sentences…a stylish, experimental collection.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Levine demonstrates a boisterous command of language and an ability to seize the reader’s attention…her stories pry us open, revealing our secretly wounded places, finally acting as balm and salvation. Lucky us.” —Toronto Star
“Reading Elise Levine is akin to a wild ride down a dark road at night…Bold and startling…Precipitous and exhilarating.” —Globe and Mail