Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681375472
Pages: 272
Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Live; live; live

by Jonathan Buckley

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The lapping of the waves was a lesson in mortality. Sometimes the corrective would work, and his turmoil would recede. The sound secured him, as the contemplation of a skull might make a penitent secure. And sometimes it was more than a corrective: it brought elation . . . "Live," it urged, with each whisper of the water. "Live; live; live." Leaning forward, Lucas repeated the words with too much fervor, to make sure that the lesson was not lost on me. This was his mission: not to help people to keep hold of the past, but to help them to live.

Jonathan Buckley’s latest novel, Live; live; live, is a subtly suspenseful and slow-burning story about the occult as a source of psychological and existential truth. Lucas Judd is a man with a gift: He hears the dead speaking. Joshua lives next door, just a boy when he first meets his mysterious, kind neighbor. But as he grows up, his instructive friendship with Lucas is gradually altered by desire: Joshua’s attraction to, then obsession with Erin, the much younger woman with whom Lucas lives. The nature of her relationship to Lucas is unclear and unclassifiable: Is it erotic, platonic, pedagogical? And is Lucas a sham or a kind of shaman? Is Joshua really a reliable witness? At the heart of this powerful and resonant novel are timely questions about narrative truth and timeless questions about life, death, and belief. There are no certainties in Live; live; live, only mutability, permeability, and the beautifully observed cadence of change.

Praise

Buckley’s fiction is subtle and fastidiously low-key . . . every apparently loose thread, when tugged, reveals itself to be woven into the themes [and] gets better the more you allow it to settle in your mind.
—Michel Faber, The Guardian

Protean and wistful, Live; live; live dwells in the malleability of memory, tenderly pressing us to be astonished at the fragile and intricate stories that hold us together. Jonathan Buckley reaches with lyric elegance into the ancient archives of human experience to invite us to contemplate the foundational questions: What is hope? Where do we find harmony? What about one another do we hold sacred? With the help of Lucas Judd, Buckley’s fallible and peculiar oracle, this dreamlike novel moves us to consider the multitude ineffable shapes of love and mercy.
—Anna Badkhen

Live; live; live plays eloquent witness to a liminal space, the boundary between the limits of rational thinking and the beginnings of occult mystification.
—Sean Sheehan, The Prisma