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"Fawn Parker's recent novel, Set-Point blew me away. Parker's sensibility is contemporary, smart and funny; fans of auto-fiction by international writers like Ben Lerner or Elif Batuman will love her" —Joan Thomas, winner of the 2019 Governor General's Award for Fiction for Five Wives
Lucy Frank is a 20-something old aspiring screenwriter who takes up digital sex-work to pay the bills. Circulating a confused social atmosphere of half-engagement with lovers, friends, and co-workers in present-day Montreal—Lucy struggles with her self-image, an eating disorder, and the illness of her mother.
Haunted by self-doubt and a desire to believe in her work and worth, Lucy volleys between self-sabotage and ambition as she tries to develop a parodic script set within a massive multiplayer world-building game. She is thrown into amplified chaos when one of her sex-work clients threatens to dox her.
Set-Point is humorously dry, insightful, and an understated portrait of a complex personal landscape.
Set-Point is a novel about nothing. Or, not nothing, but certainly emptiness: the emptiness of virtual realities; of endless parody; of cartoon porn; of a purged stomach or a missing body part. Here, in Fawn Parker’s savagely ‘chill’ Montreal, student art, friendship, therapy, work, and relationships are cast as light as dust — a discordant counterpoint to Lucy’s fierce internal world of self-loathing, ego, and worry over her mother’s illness. It will make you feel like your old self again. Neurotic, paranoid, totally inadequate, completely insecure. It’s a pleasure.
—Spencer Gordon, author of Cruise Missile Liberals and Cosmo
True to her name, Lucy Frank shines a beam of lucidity on impossible beauty standards, Sisyphean dead-end jobs, tepid hookups, and noncommittal on-off relationships with friends and erotic partners. When her worlds collide and collapse, she seeks to escape, as if in a fairy-tale turned nightmare, from her own digital “breadcrumb trail.” To anomie and alienation reminiscent of Ottessa Moshfegh, candour that rivals Sally Rooney, and an explicitness suggestive of early Mary Gaitskill, Fawn Parker adds her own antic, absurdist, utterly distinctive sensibility. Set-Point takes us to the very edge of identity, virtual and lived.
—Kateri Lanthier, author of Reporting from Night and Siren