A magnetic, provocative debut novel chronicling a young woman’s downward spiral following the end of an affair
Elsa Fisher is headed for rock bottom. At least, that’s her plan. She has just been fired from MoMA on the heels of an affair with her married boss, and she retreats to Los Angeles to blow her severance package on whatever it takes to numb the pain. Her abandoned crew of college friends (childhood friend Charlotte and her wayward husband, Jared; and Elsa’s ex-husband, Robby) receive her with open arms, and, thinking she’s on vacation, a plan to celebrate their reunion on a booze-soaked sailing trip to Catalina Island.
But Elsa doesn’t want to celebrate. She is lost, lonely, and full of rage, and only wants to sink as low as the drugs and alcohol will take her. On Catalina, her determined unraveling and recklessness expose painful memories and dark desires, putting everyone in the group at risk.
With the creeping menace of Patricia Highsmith and the bender-chic of Bret Easton Ellis, Liska Jacobs brings you inside the mind of an angry, reckless young woman hell-bent on destruction—every page taut with the knowledge that Elsa’s path does not lead to a happy place. Catalina is a compulsive, deliciously dark exploration of beauty, love, and friendship, and the sometimes toxic desires that drive us.
Praise for Catalina
“Catalina is an extraordinarily engaging study in the tension of opposing forces: youth and world-weariness, beauty and unreliability, good intentions and roads to hell. The backbone of the novel is its relentless unwillingness to apologize for its main character—not for her faults, not for her complexities. Hot damn and about time. Liska Jacobs writes with teeth; this book’s got bite.”—Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times-bestselling author of Hausfrau
“Catalina’s feminist fatale narrator, Elsa, has both the heartbroken cynicism of Daisy Buchanan and the inscrutable seductiveness of Carmen in The Big Sleep. Liska Jacobs writes crystal-clear, hypnotically sensual prose, and Catalina is California noir at its darkest and sharpest.”—Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man and In the Drink
“In her propulsive debut, Liska Jacobs tells the story of a beautiful young woman’s dissolute downward spiral with precision and insight. Catalina deftly explores the desperate social frontiers where the morals of the privileged class dissolve. You won’t be able to look away.”—J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times-bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest?
“Catalina is true California, down to the bones and skin, a novel about the places Liska Jacobs knows in her soul. Beauty and the body as currency and betrayal, seekers of love and comfort—her characters blow all that up, and just when you think you know what will happen, Catalina swerves and you are along for the ride.”—Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon
“Sophisticated and surprising, Catalina brings an excitingly modern vibe to the time-honored story of a young woman coming undone in California. Like a love child of Joan Didion and Kate Braverman, Liska Jacobs is a master of menacing cool and the seductive havoc wreaked by self-destruction.”—Gina Frangello, author of A Life in Men and Every Kind of Wanting
Liska Jacobs holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and The Hairpin, among other publications. Catalina is her first novel.
Photo by Jordan Bryant
David L. Ulin is the author, most recently, of the novel Ear to the Ground.A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, his other books include Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the Library of America's Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award.
Photo by Noah Ulin