Impossible Views of the World
A witty, urbane, and sometimes shocking debut novel, set in a hallowed New York museum, in which a co-worker's disappearance and a mysterious map change a life forever.Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan's renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with "a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist" is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt's current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world's water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that's making the rounds, and her mother--the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro--wants to have lunch. It's almost more than she can overanalyze.But the appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella--a dogged expert in American graphics and fluidomanie (don't ask)--on an all-consuming research mission. As she teases out the links between a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum's colorful early benefactors, she discovers the unbearable secret that Paul's been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life. Pulsing with neurotic humor and dagger-sharp prose, Impossible Views of the World is a dazzling debut novel about how to make it through your early thirties with your brain and heart intact.

Impossible Views of the World Details

TitleImpossible Views of the World
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseAug 1st, 2017
PublisherPenguin Press
ISBN0735221537
ISBN-139780735221536
Number of pages304 pages
Rating
GenreMystery, Fiction, Contemporary, Did Not Finish, Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction, Abandoned, Historical, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Adult

Impossible Views of the World Review

  • Jill Croce-McGill
    July 18, 2017
    DNF...I couldn't finish this book... The writing style was not for me. The story seemed to wander and was hard to follow.
  • Lisa Aiello
    July 19, 2017
    DNF at 13%. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but I had such a hard time with the writing in this book. It was pretentious, overly verbose, and I would have to read and re-read entire sentences and paragraphs several times to figure out just what the heck was being said. I thought I knew a lot of big words and had a pretty wide knowledge of vocabulary - apparently I'm wrong, because I needed a dictionary by my side. I can't comment about the storyline, as I never made it far eno DNF at 13%. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but I had such a hard time with the writing in this book. It was pretentious, overly verbose, and I would have to read and re-read entire sentences and paragraphs several times to figure out just what the heck was being said. I thought I knew a lot of big words and had a pretty wide knowledge of vocabulary - apparently I'm wrong, because I needed a dictionary by my side. I can't comment about the storyline, as I never made it far enough in to figure out what this was about. Not every book is for everybody I guess!
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  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    March 17, 2017
    DNF!This is a case of me just not liking the story. The book is not bad, however, it was not what I was expecting and I could not get into the story or like the characters so after around 100 pages did I decide to throw in the towel and find myself something else to read...
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  • Theresa
    July 30, 2017
    Thanks to Penguin's first to read program for an ecopy of this book in exchange for a review.DNF - 15% (but it felt like so much more)I tried really hard to get into this book. It portrayed itself as a mystery when a museum employee goes missing. I love museum mysteries ever since reading The Art Forger. But the writing in this book was heavy and flat. With every word I felt like I was suffocating. The narrator tried to hard to be funny at times and failed dramatically. Throwing around the word Thanks to Penguin's first to read program for an ecopy of this book in exchange for a review.DNF - 15% (but it felt like so much more)I tried really hard to get into this book. It portrayed itself as a mystery when a museum employee goes missing. I love museum mysteries ever since reading The Art Forger. But the writing in this book was heavy and flat. With every word I felt like I was suffocating. The narrator tried to hard to be funny at times and failed dramatically. Throwing around the word "fuck" doesn't make you funny. Using a thesaurus for every word, doesn't make you a clever writer.But besides that, I was just really disappointed that for at least the beginning, the mystery of the missing employee wasn't even touched upon. He's mentioned on page one and in passing on one other page before I called it quits. Instead, I got to read about the narrator's mother and exhusband. An important part of a book calling itself a mystery is the mystery.I wanted to enjoy this one so bad, but it just wasn't in the cards for me.
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  • Amanda
    June 18, 2017
    I found this book to be pretentious. It was not an enjoyable read. I hung in there for the whole thing, but I wish that I had quit much earlier. I kept hoping that something would occur to draw me in, but it just never happened. The language was unnecessarily showy, the characters were obnoxious and immature, and there was little plot to speak of.* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jillian Doherty
    January 12, 2017
    Stylish and witty, revolving around a self described sophisticated misanthrope. Stella's had quite the overwhelming week! From her unwavering career focus as the city's art curator, dealing with her self-important and almost ex-husband Wit, her eccentric famous meddling mother, her missing friend and colleague Paul, and appeasing her lover Frank and all of his airs. Yet the most compulsive intrigue surrounds the mysteriously discovered map that has curious roots in her art museum. The kaleidosco Stylish and witty, revolving around a self described sophisticated misanthrope. Stella's had quite the overwhelming week! From her unwavering career focus as the city's art curator, dealing with her self-important and almost ex-husband Wit, her eccentric famous meddling mother, her missing friend and colleague Paul, and appeasing her lover Frank and all of his airs. Yet the most compulsive intrigue surrounds the mysteriously discovered map that has curious roots in her art museum. The kaleidoscope of her life is not only a relatable adventure, but a smart, scandalous literary read with an unexpected yet fitting ending.
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  • nikkia neil
    March 19, 2017
    Thanks Edewiss for this ARC.We all have to grow up; this is a great awesome book about a woman finds her own power and worth.
  • Jean Paulhan
    April 2, 2017
    I received an ARC of this novel and was blown away. Could not put it down. Will be buying the hardcover for my collection :)
  • Lacey
    July 21, 2017
    First, I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Books, and Lucy Ives for a free copy of this book before the publication date in exchange for an honest review.Stella is a curator with a week from hell. To top it all off, her co-worker, Paul, goes missing. Finding a map makes her question everything about anything she knows. She deals with everything on her plate, while also finding out things about her co-worker Paul.This book was not for me. I really, really struggled to get through this book. First, I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Books, and Lucy Ives for a free copy of this book before the publication date in exchange for an honest review.Stella is a curator with a week from hell. To top it all off, her co-worker, Paul, goes missing. Finding a map makes her question everything about anything she knows. She deals with everything on her plate, while also finding out things about her co-worker Paul.This book was not for me. I really, really struggled to get through this book. Even though it was a relatively short book, it took me some time to actually finish it. I wanted to like this book. The cover is beautiful and the synopsis definitely intrigued me. However, that’s about how far it got for me.First, the writing style was too much for me. I can tell that Lucy Ives has the writing style of a poet. There were times where I had to reread because things were confusing for me. I never read poetry, therefore, it might be hard for another reader who is like me and never reads that kind of writing style.Next, I felt like some of the writing was pretentious. It seemed like the character seemed like she was all high and mighty. I’m still trying to figure out if it was the narration, writing style, or the character, Stella, herself.This book was classified as a mystery, and I agree that there were some parts that had mysterious accents, but not many. There were a few parts around 30% that grabbed my attention, but I felt like that might have been the only time. There were a few descriptions that this book had that wasn’t fulfilled.I really wanted and tried to like this book. Unfortunately, the writing style made it hard for me to follow, along with the narration used. Towards the end, I was just reading to get to the end. Overall, I just couldn’t get into it. I wish I had liked it better, but it just wasn’t for me.
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  • Karen Mace
    July 25, 2017
    The blurb was intriguing so that's what drew me into reading this book. And for the most part it was mildly interesting - there was a great attention to detail in the writing style and that made sense for a book set around a museum and those who worked there. But I also felt this went against the story as it just felt 'overdone' - there was little about the characters that felt endearing so the story fell a little flat. The mystery of the map was the bright light in the story and did keep me fas The blurb was intriguing so that's what drew me into reading this book. And for the most part it was mildly interesting - there was a great attention to detail in the writing style and that made sense for a book set around a museum and those who worked there. But I also felt this went against the story as it just felt 'overdone' - there was little about the characters that felt endearing so the story fell a little flat. The mystery of the map was the bright light in the story and did keep me fascinated but then even that seemed to get caught up in itself and just become too over elaborate and took away from what could have been an interesting study of some different characters and the solving of a mystery.The writing style did take some getting used to and did distract at times from the plot. Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the copy in return for a fair and honest review
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  • Leah
    July 24, 2017
    While I didn't think this was as pretentious as other readers seemed to believe, there were maybe five pages of dialogue throughout the entire novel and lines-long sentences full of overwrought similes. Hers was a long, bunchy name, like a bag of knots. and the like.Sadly, the mystery and museum-esque quality that initially drew me in was hidden beneath chapter after chapter of Stella alternating between hating-slash-avoiding her soon-to-be ex-husband and pining after a fellow coworker with whom While I didn't think this was as pretentious as other readers seemed to believe, there were maybe five pages of dialogue throughout the entire novel and lines-long sentences full of overwrought similes. Hers was a long, bunchy name, like a bag of knots. and the like.Sadly, the mystery and museum-esque quality that initially drew me in was hidden beneath chapter after chapter of Stella alternating between hating-slash-avoiding her soon-to-be ex-husband and pining after a fellow coworker with whom she had a fling. Yawn.For the full review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby!
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  • Liesl
    July 10, 2017
    Not for me. I wanted to like this book given its stunning cover and intriguing summary, but found it to be a challenging slog despite the brief length. Ives' writing is far too pretentious to be enjoyable; I constantly had to reread sentences to fully comprehend what was happening. None of the characters are particularly compelling and a mere wisp of plot is present, which led me to wonder about the overall point of the story. One positive is that the tale allows for a peek behind the curtain at Not for me. I wanted to like this book given its stunning cover and intriguing summary, but found it to be a challenging slog despite the brief length. Ives' writing is far too pretentious to be enjoyable; I constantly had to reread sentences to fully comprehend what was happening. None of the characters are particularly compelling and a mere wisp of plot is present, which led me to wonder about the overall point of the story. One positive is that the tale allows for a peek behind the curtain at the world of art and curators, but that is not enough for me to recommend it.Thanks to the First to Read program for providing me with an ARC of this title.
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  • Jess
    July 22, 2017
    I didn't make it to the end of this but I made it far enough (over halfway) to know that it wasn't going to get any better.The beautiful cover, title, and intriguing plot summary pulled me in. Unfortunately that's all I really liked about this book, which I found inexplicable in so many ways.I imagine some people might enjoy Ives' writing, but I found the forceful attempt to be quirky and clever incredibly grating, more so with every passing page. Not only that, but at times the writing was just I didn't make it to the end of this but I made it far enough (over halfway) to know that it wasn't going to get any better.The beautiful cover, title, and intriguing plot summary pulled me in. Unfortunately that's all I really liked about this book, which I found inexplicable in so many ways.I imagine some people might enjoy Ives' writing, but I found the forceful attempt to be quirky and clever incredibly grating, more so with every passing page. Not only that, but at times the writing was just straight up confusing, and I found myself finishing sentences and going, "wait...what?" It wasn't that the language was too difficult - it was just very, very odd, in a bad way, rather than a refreshing or smart way.Perhaps this wouldn't have been a death knell if the book had great characters and a great plot. Alas, the characters all seemed like caricatures to me, and I didn't find the protagonist likable or interesting. The dialogue felt very forced and strange, not at all resembling the way real human beings would talk to one another, and conversations would always cut off at very confusing moments, leaving me kind of just laughing nervously to myself as if I were missing out on a joke or something. And the story as a whole meandered for ages, running circles around a plot that had potential but came across as rather lifeless.This book seemed really great from far away, but up close basically everything about the execution just didn't work all that well. As much as I hate to write authors off entirely, I think Lucy Ives' storytelling may just not be for me.
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  • Dena
    June 23, 2017
    I would probably give this a 2.5 but since no half stars are allowed here I rounded to 3. I WANTED to like this book. I TRIED to like this book. I made every excuse in FAVOR of this book, but alas it was not for me. The premise of the book sounded fantastic and the summary was just what I wanted, but the actual story fell a little short for me. I think the biggest problem I had with it was the writing style that bogged me down. I had to read and re-read most sentences to get the meaning of it, o I would probably give this a 2.5 but since no half stars are allowed here I rounded to 3. I WANTED to like this book. I TRIED to like this book. I made every excuse in FAVOR of this book, but alas it was not for me. The premise of the book sounded fantastic and the summary was just what I wanted, but the actual story fell a little short for me. I think the biggest problem I had with it was the writing style that bogged me down. I had to read and re-read most sentences to get the meaning of it, or to simply make it flow. It was just a bit awkward (for me). Maybe it was just me, as the other reviews seem to be pretty high, but I just couldn't get into the groove of it. Most of the sentences were filled with interjections, and/or explanations, within the sentence. For example: "I would have just made my way to the department, but Marco Jensen, who worked the central desk, was already present, stocking pamphlets, from which labor he rescued himself in order to wave me vividly over." Also, there were many words that I had to look up, which slowed me down. Now, I am a college educated individual. I read a lot. And I actually enjoy running into new words, because I feel like I am 'learning'. But when I come across 5 words I have never even heard of in the first 60 pages, I start to feel stupid. And I don't like that feeling. So, while I think the story was ok, I didn't actually enjoy reading it. It was a chore for me, not a pleasure. Now, as I stated above, this book gets great reviews from others, so maybe this was just not for me. Maybe I don't "get" poetry (as the author is apparently a poet, and other reviewers seem to enjoy the poetic prose). I almost didn't write my review (because I don't like giving bad reviews), but I was reminded by some of my book-loving friends, that readers like to know what they are in for, the good and the bad. So I hope I have given enough reasons and/or examples as to why this book wasn't for me. And I just wanted to give a heads-up that the writing style is a bit unique.
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  • Brittany
    July 11, 2017
    I received the ARC of Impossible Views of the World by the publisher through the First to Read program in exchange for my honest review.From the first paragraph I knew this was going to be a tough read. Ives' writing style is so needlessly pretentious that it makes her story very hard to read without rolling your eyes. She uses many fancy words to say a whole lot of nothing. The writing was unnatural and felt forced and robotic. I felt Ives was trying to show she could write well instead of actu I received the ARC of Impossible Views of the World by the publisher through the First to Read program in exchange for my honest review.From the first paragraph I knew this was going to be a tough read. Ives' writing style is so needlessly pretentious that it makes her story very hard to read without rolling your eyes. She uses many fancy words to say a whole lot of nothing. The writing was unnatural and felt forced and robotic. I felt Ives was trying to show she could write well instead of actually just telling her story. The story was lackluster as well. From the short synopsis I read I thought I would be reading a thrilling mystery and also reading about someone like me who is trying to get through her late 20s/early 30s in tact. This is NOT what was delivered. The mystery was anti climactic, and the characters in the book were all vile. Hard pass on this one. I will not be recommending to anyone I know. This very nearly went in my "Did Not Finish" reading pile and I only persisted because it was an ARC and I wanted to give a true review. I am so happy I didn't spend money on this. 1/5
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  • Jesaca
    May 26, 2017
    The author is clearly a poet because the writing is like nothing I've read before. Lyrical, playful, and mesmerizing. The plot is relatable. I would probably read it again in the future.
  • Claudia
    July 2, 2017
    *3.5 starsThank you to First to Read for this opportunity."I have modes of being that are less than elegant, and I have frequently used these to my advantage"I've never read a book by Lucy Ives before, but I can tell you from this experience she must be a poet, because that's all that jumps at you from page one, maybe I'll give her poetry books a chance sometime.I'd like to mention how amazing this cover is, and I'd pick it up just because of the cover, and the premise of the book sounded fantas *3.5 starsThank you to First to Read for this opportunity."I have modes of being that are less than elegant, and I have frequently used these to my advantage"I've never read a book by Lucy Ives before, but I can tell you from this experience she must be a poet, because that's all that jumps at you from page one, maybe I'll give her poetry books a chance sometime.I'd like to mention how amazing this cover is, and I'd pick it up just because of the cover, and the premise of the book sounded fantastic. Stella is our main character and we see her as dealing with a lot of stress (soon-to-be ex-husband, office romance, relationship with her mother), and keeping it all together, even when everything around her is too much to take. The book has an appendix, a timeline that helps sort things out an that is a plus."As with all moments of intense temptation, I went rapidly on to be completely blind to both my own brazenness and my own wish"The writing style is different from recent books I've read however I must add that it's rather tiring the continues use of metaphor on a nearly poetic prose, it feels like a too much of an effort at times. The overall construction of the story was impressive.This is a book I'd recommend, it's a nice, quick read for the summer time, and it's a very small book."If I tell you that there was a feeling in my heart as of its being impaled by a short, sharp stick, and then slowly and deliberately beaten against the ground until it was absorbed into the unfeeling earth, please do not think I am exaggerating."Review also: https://enchantedbybookssite.wordpres...
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  • Ioana
    July 2, 2017
    This novel sure is witty, but it didn't feel like a neurotic humor, nor did I find it dazzling, and I certainly did not find Paul's secret "unbearable".I did like the lost-at-thirty-years-old thing Stella had going on there. Made her more humane, and that was necessary because all her pretentious words made her seem all put together and snob-ish in the beginning. She reveals more about her life and you get to know her better. I still have a curiosity and this thought popped into my head a few ti This novel sure is witty, but it didn't feel like a neurotic humor, nor did I find it dazzling, and I certainly did not find Paul's secret "unbearable".I did like the lost-at-thirty-years-old thing Stella had going on there. Made her more humane, and that was necessary because all her pretentious words made her seem all put together and snob-ish in the beginning. She reveals more about her life and you get to know her better. I still have a curiosity and this thought popped into my head a few times while reading - what exactly was her job at the museum? And speaking of those bombastic words, there were a lot. Sure, I read to learn new words, but it's too much when on the same page there is at least one word that I have to look up. Maybe it's just because English is my second language, but this sure was an impediment. However, the witty part about this novel was this exact speech - she is funny, sometimes deep, you chuckle at some parts, and that works in her favor.The plot, minimal as it was, is centered around a museum, and that immediately creates the perfect background for mystery and secrets. I had a hard time keeping up with all the bits of information she came upon. I think this is because the novel was in the first person narrative, and every time she figured something out she expected us to have an aa-haaa! moment as well. Well, explain it to us, mere mortals with no PhD in art history. I still have this feeling that I missed something and now it's (obviously) too late to understand it all. And as I mentioned, I didn't find any secret as unbearable and shocking. I've read worse. Or better, depending how you look at it. I liked the way she over-analyzed everything, I had no problem having patience for that. However, I didn't have any patience for her love life drama, but it was good that she had two major things going on in her life during the week the novel takes place in. A mother with whom she has a not loved based relationship; an emotionally distant father, but still present and helpful; two men she loves or not; a man who's dead and into whose life she decides to look into and then take it upon herself to discover his hidden things and side job; and a fourth man who thank goodness doesn't become her lover in the course of that week - yeah, it was a packed-full week; only in novels. Surely this novel would appeal more to art lovers, to those with a knack for modern mysteries, and novels set in museums. I wish I liked this novel more, but I knew it wasn't something I enjoyed reading when I chose to watch TV instead, and I hardly every do that.I received a free e-book copy of the novel from the publisher via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.
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  • Nicki Markus
    June 14, 2017
    I don't know whether it's because I am around the same age as the protagonist, but I identified with Stella as a character from the first chapter. While not all her situations were familiar to me, I could relate to enough that I really felt for and understood her as she tried to puzzle out the drama surrounding her. Alongside the memorable characters and intriguing plot, I also fell in love with Ives' prose. So often these days, writers are told to dumb-down their text, omitting certain punctuat I don't know whether it's because I am around the same age as the protagonist, but I identified with Stella as a character from the first chapter. While not all her situations were familiar to me, I could relate to enough that I really felt for and understood her as she tried to puzzle out the drama surrounding her. Alongside the memorable characters and intriguing plot, I also fell in love with Ives' prose. So often these days, writers are told to dumb-down their text, omitting certain punctuation. It was, therefore, a breath of fresh air to read more complex, thoughtful sentences, with diverse grammar and phrasing. That alone was enough to make me fall in love with this book! Impossible Views of the World kept me invested in the characters and the action from start to finish and it was a thrill to pick it up each night and continue with the tale. For lovers of intellectually stimulating and thoughtful literary fiction, this book is a must read!I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Angie
    June 26, 2017
    An uneven book, with awkward narration and a disorganized, inconsistent voice, but some truly breathtaking imagery popping out here and there. The overall construction of the story was intricate and impressive -- I don't know that I've ever read a book quite like it. The use of history and art was great. The use of character a little less impressive. There are also some glaring issues with understanding quite what Stella's job is, what her goals are, why she does things from one hour to the next An uneven book, with awkward narration and a disorganized, inconsistent voice, but some truly breathtaking imagery popping out here and there. The overall construction of the story was intricate and impressive -- I don't know that I've ever read a book quite like it. The use of history and art was great. The use of character a little less impressive. There are also some glaring issues with understanding quite what Stella's job is, what her goals are, why she does things from one hour to the next. I feel like I have spent time in her head and don't know her well. But I finished and the overwhelming feeling was that this story was just so darn interesting -- I'm still interested. Wait, stick around and finish your story! I have so many questions!There's a useful timeline in the back of the book that might help sort some things out as you read. And even though I have mixed feelings about how well it's written, I recommend it to folks looking for a good museum mystery. There's some good stuff in here.I got a free copy to review from First to Read.
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  • Kalyne
    July 23, 2017
    DNF. Received an ARC from Random House, this book has a beautiful cover but unfortunately the writing wasn't my taste. I gave it 50 pages but it just wasn't for me.
  • Kelsey
    July 1, 2017
    This book was a mixed bag for me. I was attracted by the beautiful cover (what's new) and a blurb I'd seen marketing it as "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for adults." That's a great sell.But then, once I started reading...Immediately I had a hard time with the prose. It was very choppy with an emphasis on both slang and figurative language that made for difficult going. Getting used to it was like reading an old book with very antiquated language. Odd cadences, funky aside This book was a mixed bag for me. I was attracted by the beautiful cover (what's new) and a blurb I'd seen marketing it as "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for adults." That's a great sell.But then, once I started reading...Immediately I had a hard time with the prose. It was very choppy with an emphasis on both slang and figurative language that made for difficult going. Getting used to it was like reading an old book with very antiquated language. Odd cadences, funky asides or references. BUT - every once in awhile there were gems so witty or interesting that I immediately found myself highlighting. (Really - something super funny or just well-written. More of this please!) I wish a little more time had been spent smoothing the prose out.The characterization and plot felt as choppy as the prose. I had a hard time connecting with the main character, Stella. Her character had misanthropic old man tendencies mixed with young twenties impulsiveness. She didn't make sense or feel real to me. The connections between characters felt odd, too. Stella and Paul. Stella and Frank. Stella and Caro. It was like watching humans interact - except if you didn't know anything about how real humans experienced emotions. Like a mix of Devil Wears Prada and Night at the Museum and that Barbara Pym book about clueless anthropologists, Less than Angels. Social strivers in museums who aren't behaving like humans but are very intent on their specific needs. What can I say. It's a specific mix.Finally, I guess I expected more out of the plot, but what plot was there was hard to follow. It's sort of a mystery, but the reveal is a little flat. The ending is abrupt. Altogether, a book that had promise, but for me didn't add up to very much.Thanks to First to Read for supplying me with an advance copy for review.
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  • Alexandra Zaytseva
    June 21, 2017
    DNF after about 50 pages. Written in a very pretentious way, sometimes I wondered if what I was reading passed through the hands of an editor at all. I could have pretended and spoken about the intelligence, wittiness and poetic style, but frankly when you put too much sugar in the cake it no longer brings you pleasure, just as a book with metaphor on top of metaphor, figurative speech on top of weirdly constructed sentences. It was difficult to get into the story when I had to detangle each wor DNF after about 50 pages. Written in a very pretentious way, sometimes I wondered if what I was reading passed through the hands of an editor at all. I could have pretended and spoken about the intelligence, wittiness and poetic style, but frankly when you put too much sugar in the cake it no longer brings you pleasure, just as a book with metaphor on top of metaphor, figurative speech on top of weirdly constructed sentences. It was difficult to get into the story when I had to detangle each word in every sentence.
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  • Sam Sigelakis-Minski
    July 10, 2017
    Thank you to Penguin's First to Read program for this compelling debut novel!In Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives, heroine (or antiheroine?) Stella Krakus, a curator at a renowned art museum in New York, is having a pretty rough week. Her coworker and sometimes friend Paul has disappeared, her coworker and sometimes lover Fred cannot give her what she wants, and her soon-to-be ex-husband Whit is showing up in the most unwelcome of places.  She is hitting the dreadful "dead end" point in Thank you to Penguin's First to Read program for this compelling debut novel!In Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives, heroine (or antiheroine?) Stella Krakus, a curator at a renowned art museum in New York, is having a pretty rough week. Her coworker and sometimes friend Paul has disappeared, her coworker and sometimes lover Fred cannot give her what she wants, and her soon-to-be ex-husband Whit is showing up in the most unwelcome of places.  She is hitting the dreadful "dead end" point in her career and she's not even forty, and her glamorous mother Caro wants to talk out of the blue. Then there is the matter of her museum being taken over by a multinational water company that may want to take over the world...When Stella discovers a 19th-century map to a nonexistent Utopian community in Paul's desk, she is more than a little intrigued. She is doggedly determined to find out what it is for, who made it, and what Paul was doing with it before he disappeared. As Stella begins making connections with the map, poetry, a modern-day counterfeiting scheme, and phantom art in the archives of the museum, can she get to the bottom of the puzzle and still get her life together before it all spirals out of control?It is hard to sum up a book like this, where there is so much going on but so much of it rides on the backs of the characters. Stella is what I would almost call a stereotypical millennial (coming from a reviewer who also sees herself as one) and she is not always hard to relate to. Often, this book falls on pretensions. While this does make sense, given that it is written from the point of view of a Masters-educated art curator who was born to an elitist yuppy mother, it is a little off-putting for readers who are not dumb, but somehow don't understand a lot of the words/references in the book. The thing I really liked about the book was the prose. I know it is not to everyone's taste (Ives normally writes poetry, and it comes through), but I kind of liked the flowing prose. It is scattered with colloquial speech, as though to book is being narrated, which again many people don't like, but I felt it helped break up some of the monotony of the long and word-heavy phrases. (Will select some choice quotes and post them when the book comes out on August 1.)However, there was a lot of "stuff" about this book that I have a love/hate relationship with. Stella's character is flawed, which isn't a bad thing, but it is both easy and hard to relate to her- easy because I often fee the same way she does about jobs and relationships, hard because she often reacts so ambivalently to the bad shit around her that it is hard to even think she has emotions. In fact, the only time strong emotions are shown is when Stella is explaining her emotions of a past event. I get the whole "circumstances have made me numb," shtick, but this doesn't come through. The other characters are often caricatures of their given roles: the older, richer lover, the jilted ex husband, the slob boss, and the domineering mother. again, perhaps this is a take on the unreliable narrator trope so prominent in post-modern novels, but it doesn't translate here.Then there is the mystery of the plot. I think I was missing something, but I did not understand the resolution to anything except for Stella's work and love life. It was either an absurdist move of, "nothing is never really resolved," or I severely missed the point.And yet despite this, I found found Impossible Views simply impossible to put down. Maybe it is because I identified with the futile feeling of being slightly introverted while working in a competitive field in Manhattan, maybe because I am a little bit pretentious myself, but I was engrossed in Stella's imperfect little world, filled with elitists, old money, and art mysteries. Three stars, but a caveat that this will not be a read for everyone!
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  • Pop Bop
    May 27, 2017
    Artfully Awkward and ElegantSome blurb I read noted this novel's "neurotic humor and dagger-sharp prose", and I'm in agreement with that observation. But there's something more to it than that. In one of my favorite lines from Steve Martin's "L.A. Story", his character observes that "..an interview with me would be fascinating by the way, because of the interesting word usements I structure". Exactly that sort of elegant inelegance appears on every page of this book. Ms. Ives structures very int Artfully Awkward and ElegantSome blurb I read noted this novel's "neurotic humor and dagger-sharp prose", and I'm in agreement with that observation. But there's something more to it than that. In one of my favorite lines from Steve Martin's "L.A. Story", his character observes that "..an interview with me would be fascinating by the way, because of the interesting word usements I structure". Exactly that sort of elegant inelegance appears on every page of this book. Ms. Ives structures very interesting word usements. Archaic, literary, obscure, childish, and slang phrases may appear in the same sentence. Some sentences are awkward; some are arresting and elegant. Despair, deadpan humor, sarcasm, impatience, confidence, doubt, and striking honesty all shoulder each other for prominence as we follow Stella's interior life.The idea, I guess, is that our heroine is under a lot of pressure, and is keeping it all together and is trying to move forward, even while everything around her is either overwhelming, or falling apart, or just confusing. This translates into a manner of thinking and reacting and regretting and coping that is just as fragmented and conflicted. I've read lots of books that try to describe that state of mind or portray it, but I don't think I've ever read a book the structure of which so subtly and effectively gets that idea across. Examples are always problematic, because out of context they may not make one's point. But let me try here. At one point Stella is trying to have a conversation with her boss, who is sort of babbling. Here's Stella's next move - "I wasn't sure how many more mixed metaphors Bonnie would want to put me through before we could come at last to the possibility of literal speech. I decided to be direct. 'How are you doing?'". To me, this is a smart, funny, and insightful way for the author to show us exasperated, impatient, and prickly Stella.So, regardless of the plot, or the twists, or how the story develops, the actual writing, (that is, the way Stella thinks and speaks), is the real and fascinating star of the show. And whether she is cracking wise, analyzing her romantic life, stewing about her mother, reassessing her life with her ex-husband, or navigating the insular and oppressive art museum world in which she swims, Stella is always worth listening to. (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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  • Lindsay Goto
    July 20, 2017
    [I received an free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.]Just to start us off, I had to struggle to get a hold of this book. I didn't read the instructions properly and ended up being unable to read the novel for about two weeks. There was all this suspense as I tried to find ways to get another copy. I requested galleys, I emailed the publishers, I tried to get another copy through any means I could and in my mind, the book became elevated to this ethereal novel that I couldn't [I received an free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.]Just to start us off, I had to struggle to get a hold of this book. I didn't read the instructions properly and ended up being unable to read the novel for about two weeks. There was all this suspense as I tried to find ways to get another copy. I requested galleys, I emailed the publishers, I tried to get another copy through any means I could and in my mind, the book became elevated to this ethereal novel that I couldn't touch. I feel like if this book was a person, we would be the jaded lovers who liked each other, but just couldn't quite make it work. I wanted something gorgeous and effortless, something that matched the beautiful cover. Instead I was given something that was surprisingly gritty. It's hard to like the people in this novel and I think that's where I get derailed. Combine that with my initial misconceptions about the novel's tone and you've got a dissonant feeling right off the bat. The cover is gorgeous and the write-up feels whimsical. It's called a "dazzling debut" and it doesn't dazzle. It's too rough for that. I know that I sound like I'm unhappy with the book and I'm not. Not at all. Impossible Views of the World just had an uphill struggle from the very beginning. I should have been fascinated by the premise. It's not often that you follow the threads of a mystery through honest to goodness research and searching through multiple books for a place that may or may not exist. I wish that the novel had focused more on that and less on the interaction between the characters within it.There's a very 30s kind of feel to this novel which was interesting to me and I did (eventually) warm up to Stella because underneath it all, she's kind of messy. She's competent, intelligent, independent and all kinds of mess. But then when you put other characters beside her, it became obvious very quickly that they were caricatures of themselves. Maybe that was the point. This novel makes me feel like I missed the point somehow, but I feel like it should have been more lyrical than it was. Either way, I did enjoy it for what it's worth. The male characters are terrible and the female characters aren't much better, but there's something fascinating about feeling like the present has been transposed into the 1930s. And if I sound like I don't have my normal enthusiasm, it's because this book took a lot out of me. Read more reviews like this at Truly Booked.
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  • Emily at Reaching While Rooted
    July 14, 2017
    Impossible Views of the World is a novel written by Lucy Ives and the first work I have read by the author. Middle aged Stella Krauss is having a terrible week. Working at an art museum in New York City her life is falling apart. Her divorce from Whitt has been messy, her colleagues aren't helping, and to top it off one of her coworkers has disappeared. Stella is reaching a dead end in her career and doesn't quite know where to go. Searching through Paul's folders after his disappearance Stella Impossible Views of the World is a novel written by Lucy Ives and the first work I have read by the author. Middle aged Stella Krauss is having a terrible week. Working at an art museum in New York City her life is falling apart. Her divorce from Whitt has been messy, her colleagues aren't helping, and to top it off one of her coworkers has disappeared. Stella is reaching a dead end in her career and doesn't quite know where to go. Searching through Paul's folders after his disappearance Stella is intrigued when she stumbles over a 19th century map of a Utopian village. Now not only must she navigate her own messy life, but make sense of all the things Paul has left behind as well.I love art museums and have fond memories of traipsing through the Cloisters and MET when I lived in New York City. The art scene in New York is vibrant and often takes on a soul of its own. American furnishings make up a large portion of the American Works department at CeMArt where Stella works, and the descriptions of 18th century tables and chests reminded me of Donna Tratt's The Goldfinch. Also just look at the cover! Easily one of my favorites this year.However, I just could not get into the book. The plot seemed very jumbled to me and with so many side stories it was often difficult to follow along with the plot. Perhaps Lucy Ives intentionally did this to highlight the hectic nature of Stella's life, but it seemed superfluous and detracted from the main theme of the book. The ending also seemed lacking, things were left untied and relationships in free fall.Other reviews I have read complained about the word choice of Lucy Ives, and is true that she included a lot of five dollar words. I however appreciated the writing style and it was clear to me that Ives chose her words with care. Rather than being pretentious, I thought the writing was concise and refreshing. Ives did not rely on overplayed buzz words but instead utilized phrases like "effaced" and "marcelled." The writing had a distinct academic flavor that suited the voice of Stella. Entrenched in a world of research and wealth it would naturally reflect in her narration, I did not feel like the writing was contrived or out of place.So while the busyness of the plot only lent a 2/5 in my book, the museum setting and mystery would appeal to fans of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.*Thank you to First to Read, Penguin, and author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions stated here are my own.
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  • Anissa
    May 15, 2017
    Stella Krakus is having a rough week and is in the midst of an existential crisis (personal & professional). Her soon to be ex-husband, Whit, is being difficult, she's also at a confusing crossroads with her occasional hook up and colleague Fred. Her mother is adding to the pile by simply being herself and then there's the small matter of Paul, a colleague who was as much a work friend as Stella has, that's gone missing though no one at CeMArt seems much to care or at least, tepidly worry. T Stella Krakus is having a rough week and is in the midst of an existential crisis (personal & professional). Her soon to be ex-husband, Whit, is being difficult, she's also at a confusing crossroads with her occasional hook up and colleague Fred. Her mother is adding to the pile by simply being herself and then there's the small matter of Paul, a colleague who was as much a work friend as Stella has, that's gone missing though no one at CeMArt seems much to care or at least, tepidly worry. There's also a foreboding looming encroachment of the corporatization & conglomeratization of the museum by WANSEE. It is this mystery of what's happened to Paul (and then what he'd been doing before his end) that most pulled me through this story. I loved following Stella's trail of research (obscure books are connected to an obscure map and that map figures into a larger situation at the museum that has roots a good bit in the past and more obscure works). Add to that Stella's very clear voice, wry wit in the telling and tangential observations, I quite enjoyed this story. I found many passages that were highlight worthy and am a little sorry that I can't quote them here but it's worth mentioning just the same. The author definitely has a talent for lyrical prose and I appreciated that. The only thing I didn't find terribly compelling was Fred and I never quite understood Stella's fascination or attraction unless it was that he was purposely unattainable & emotionally unavailable to her, but it was good to see her get past him. I very much liked that without knowing it, Stella needed the journey of tracing Paul's trail to work out her own stuff and by the end she's in a better place than she began. Well done.This read like a love letter to archivists and curators everywhere (cartographers, microcalligraphers, logophiles and those who love puzzles and puns, this is for you too). If that happens to be your thing (it's my thing) then go forth and enjoy. Also, I'd recommend this to literary fiction fans that also enjoy a bit of mystery. I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my views. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley.
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  • Liz
    July 9, 2017
    I received a digital copy of this book through the Penguin First to Read program (reviews aren’t required, but are preferred). I’ll be honest; it was the cover alone that sold me on this book. It’s just absolutely stunning! As for the book itself, maybe it was the mood I’ve been in lately, but I really struggled to get all the way through this one. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, I just felt unable to get into the plot or feel attached to the main character. Which is a bit of a shame, since th I received a digital copy of this book through the Penguin First to Read program (reviews aren’t required, but are preferred). I’ll be honest; it was the cover alone that sold me on this book. It’s just absolutely stunning! As for the book itself, maybe it was the mood I’ve been in lately, but I really struggled to get all the way through this one. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, I just felt unable to get into the plot or feel attached to the main character. Which is a bit of a shame, since the writing itself was really lovely (the author included poems and research papers and other little bits like that to vary up the dialogue). (view spoiler)[ The writing style for Impossible Views of the World was a breath of fresh air; it is just so very different from everything else I’ve been reading lately. It actually makes me feel bad saying I didn’t love the book, because while I didn’t love the plot, I really did love the writing itself, as well as the cover. Stella Krakus is a curator at Manhattan’s Central Museum of Art; she’s moderately successful at her job, having published one paper, and started on art history blog (which she abandoned later). She’s become disinterested in her work lately, but does a decent job of keeping it hidden. Her mother is a rich and relatively famous print dealer, and her father a lawyer. Her husband? Soon to be ex and a jerk and a half. That pretty much sums up Stella’s life, before the start of events in the novel. Stella is under a lot of stress in her life, between her forty-plus-hour a week job, the impending divorce (you know, whenever she can convince him to actually sign the papers), her office-affair still lingering in the air, and oh, her newly missing coworker, Paul. Despite all this, she manages to keep herself together (certainly more than I would have, credit to her). In truth I feel that her efforts to maintain control resulted in her numbing herself to the world, ever so slightly. Paul’s disappearance has Stella discovering a beautifully rendered map, which fascinates her so much she ends up running off on a quasi-treasure hunt because of it. The map itself depicts a 19th century settlement, named Elysia, which in itself has no current location. There are references to Elysia throughout fiction and history, but nothing definitive. The puzzle of this brings a whole new life to Stella and her opinion of art and the museum – she uses every resource available to her to discover the mystery that Paul was working on. I feel that through the journey to find Elysia, Stella actually managed to find herself along the way. It seems like her whole life was just her living up to everyone’s expectations (including her own), and she has finally found what she needed to free herself. Watching Stella through that transition was almost liberating, in a sense, and was the real highlight of the story to me. The ending itself was unexpected, but also refreshingly honest and believable. It fit with the story, giving the narrative the sense of finality required, while not overdoing it. (hide spoiler)]For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
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  • Margot
    July 15, 2017
    I really enjoyed part of this novel. Stella, an upper-middle-level employee at an American art museum, discovers an intriguing map in her deceased co-worker's office. This sets her on a quest to learn more about the imaginary, utopian world of Elysia as well as the goings-on of her mysterious former colleague. She searches through computer files, commonplace books, obscure 19th-century novels, microfiches, forgotten literary journals, and biographies of bygone art patrons. I found it all compell I really enjoyed part of this novel. Stella, an upper-middle-level employee at an American art museum, discovers an intriguing map in her deceased co-worker's office. This sets her on a quest to learn more about the imaginary, utopian world of Elysia as well as the goings-on of her mysterious former colleague. She searches through computer files, commonplace books, obscure 19th-century novels, microfiches, forgotten literary journals, and biographies of bygone art patrons. I found it all compelling, even if I wasn't always sure why Stella was searching or what she hoped to find. But Stella is struggling with purpose, so a seemingly purposeless hunt makes sense for her. It does eventually lead somewhere, a rather modest reveal, but one that sets up worthwhile questions about art, display, value, and authenticity. The other half of the book is about Stella's personal life: her office affair, her messy divorce, her stalled career, her difficult beautiful mother and her general awkwardness as a human being. This half I didn't really enjoy. Stella is a bit too painfully uncool in the midst of cool (everyone but her is beautiful, savvy, successful, capable), something she needs to comment on endlessly.At times Ives writes with subtlety, and her ability to mimic the language of old documents is admirable. But in other places the writing felt clumsy and some of the dialogue made me cringe. But overall, what I enjoyed outweighs what I didn't. It's a pick, but mainly for people (like me) who enjoy art history or the who find the twists and turns of archival and primary text research "exciting."
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