Impossible Views of the World

Poet Lucy Ives's novel Impossible Views of the World is a savvy, snarky, self-deprecating week in the life of her young Ph.D. narrator Stella Krakus. An assistant curator at a New York City museum with a notable collection of 19th-century American decorative arts, she is in the late stages of an unpleasant divorce and negotiating an on-again, off-again affair with a colleague. When another curator disappears in the midst of setting up a financially critical exhibit sponsored by a global water conglomerate, Stella's life takes a turn. Asked to pick up the work by her distracted boss, Stella discovers in the curator's desk a cryptic photocopy of an exquisitely detailed map depicting the mysterious township of Elysia. Ives smoothly sidesteps from a story of an over-educated, looking-for-love millennial "reared in the neurotic northern reaches of Manhattan's Upper East Side" to an art history detective mystery. Stella may be an ambivalent romantic partner, but she's a dogged researcher when it comes to deciphering a conundrum.

The charm and energy of Impossible Views of the World rest in Ives's uncanny eye for the subtle tells of romance, the idiosyncrasies of the NYC young, and the details of 19th-century furniture and art. A clever curatorial mystery, a love-gone-wrong rom-com or a sharp-witted story of a young New York woman, Impossible Views of the World is way more fun than a rainy afternoon in the American Objects wing of a cavernous museum. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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