By Fawn Parker
Subjects: Fiction
Paperback : 9781927886250, 247 pages, September 2019


Set-Point is a novel about personal, sexual, and physical identity. In a voice that is at once brutally honest and humorous, the story follows Lucy Frank, a mid-20s aspiring screenwriter living in Montreal who begins work as a digital sex worker, selling data recorded on interactive erotic consoles. She keeps her work separate from her artistic and personal life, until a user threatens to release her identity. Lucy struggles with body image, her mother's illness, and her feelings about her new line of work, while trying to sell a series of scripts parodying Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle series. Segments of the novel take place inside of U:3D, a massive multiplayer online world-building game in which Lucy's project is produced. Unfolding in Montreal's youth culture, this debut explores intellectual parody, mental and physical illness, and the relationship between technology and sex.


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 Cosmo


True to her name, Lucy Frank shines an iPhone-like 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 Nigh