A conscious dissection of self, this is a difficult and illuminating read.
Part diary-adjacent confession and part critique of society at large (especially of patriarchal suppression and masculinity), this book cracks our narrator wide open, her mind and body splayed across the pages. We follow her literal and metaphorical anatomy as she careens between submitting to society’s ills and revolting against them, leaning into what is expected of her and hating herself for doing so, all to devastating effect.
In unsettling, lucid prose, Nolan holds both the scalpel and the thread, stitching our narrator together and opening fresh wounds while searching for the answer to our narrator’s questions about degradation and want and, ultimately, the role of love.
TW: abuse, assault, rape, body dysmorphia, food restriction, addiction, self-harm
– Miranda <3
Heralding the arrival of “a huge literary talent” (Karl Ove Knausgaard), Megan Nolan’s riveting debut is “a blistering anti-romance” (Catherine Lacey) about love addiction and what it does to us.
Wouldn’t I do anything to reverse my loss, the absence of him?
In the first scene of this provocative gut-punch of a novel, our unnamed narrator meets a magnetic writer named Ciaran and falls, against her better judgment, completely in his power. After a brief, all-consuming romance he abruptly rejects her, sending her into a tailspin of jealous obsession and longing. If he ever comes back to her, she resolves to hang onto him and his love at all costs, even if it destroys her…
Part breathless confession, part lucid critique, Acts of Desperation renders a consciousness split between rebellion and submission, between escaping degradation and eroticizing it, between loving and being lovable. With unsettling, electric precision, Nolan dissects one of life’s most elusive mysteries: Why do we want what we want, and how do we want it?
Combining the intellectual excitement of Rachel Cusk with the emotional rawness of Elena Ferrante, Acts of Desperation interrogates the nature of desire, power, and toxic relationships, challenging us to reckon honestly with our own insatiability.