Love Me Back

Love Me Back (Hardcover)

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From "5 Under 35" honoree and Rona Jaffe Award-winner comes an urgent, intensely visceral debut novel about a young waitress whose downward spiral is narrated in electric prose

Marie, a young single mother, lands a job at an upscale Dallas steakhouse. She is preternaturally attuned to the appetites of her patrons, but quickly learns to hide her private struggle behind an easy smile and a crisp white apron. In a world of long hours and late nights, where everything runs on a currency of favors, cash and cachet, Marie gives in to brutally self-destructive impulses. She loses herself in a tangle of bodies and the kind of coke that 'napalms your emotional synapses.' But obliteration—not pleasure—is her goal. Pulsing with fierce, almost feral energy, Love Me Back is an unapologetic portrait of a woman cutting a precarious path through early adulthood. In the words of Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, "Tierce roams like an avenging angel across the landscape of twenty-first century American decadence, and the truths she writes achieve a state of near-sacred subversion."

About the Author

MERRITT TIERCE, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, was born and raised in Texas, and graduated from college at the age of 19. She received her MFA in fiction writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was named a Meta Rosenberg Fellow. In 2011, she was a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. Merritt lives near Dallas with her husband and children.

Praise for Love Me Back…

“Brilliant, devastating….LOVE ME BACK is one of those exquisitely rare novels that feel desperate and urgent and absolutely necessary.”
-- The New York Times Book Review

"Tierce writes with a visceral, unsentimental directness...The novel succeeds both as a behind-the-scenes rendering of the extreme demands placed on workers in the restaurant business and a portrait of a desperate, thwarted young woman."
--The New Yorker

“In her extraordinary debut novel Love Me Back, Merritt Tierce captures the service industry life I knew… Tierce nails how the woundedness of people who work in restaurants is connected to the degradation of their jobs.”
-- LA Review of Books
"Love Me Back is more than a brilliant workplace novel… Tierce also has an impeccable ear, and writes sentences that snap out at you as unexpectedly as a rolled-up towel... "Love Me Back" is a heart-cracking read.”
-- The Chicago Tribune
“Tierce writes poignantly of the pain and loneliness, [but] Love Me Back is also filled with the kindness and humor that people offer one another when they know there’s no one else.”
-- The Paris Review

"Last year, Tierce was included in the National Book Foundation's list of ''5 Under 35'' writers to watch, and it's easy to see why: The stark, self-destructive voice of her debut is unforgettable… Gripping. "
-- Entertainment Weekly

“Thanks to her exceptional short story-writing chops...Tierce's writing reflects the plot's quick, sinuous turns.”
-- The Huffington Post

"(A) sexy, honest debut."
-- Marie Claire

"A blunt, dark first novel."
-- New York Magazine

“What’s so compelling about this compulsively readable yet highly literary novel is not the “unflinching” depiction of Marie’s behavior – though it’s crafted so carefully that readers want to consume each detail – but instead the beautifully plain and unsentimental access Tierce gives us to her protagonist’s interior…How rare it is to find a writer who can encapsulate a character’s sweeping motivation in a page or paragraph or single sentence…Tierce’s magnetic portrayal of a woman whose behavior is conventionally allowed only of men announces Tierce as a writer we’ve been waiting for much too long.”
-- Oxford American

"One of the most brutally honest books of the year."
-- Boston Herald

“[O]ne of the most mesmerizing heroines in recent fiction…. [this] compulsively readable tale threatens to drag Texas literature kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.Tierce gives this slim volume the heft of a career-making breakout book…..Amid the provocative questions about love, work, and the American dream, Love Me Back also asks (to paraphrase Danny): What do you mean Texan? And that’s why this first novel could well emerge as a milestone in Texas literature….Welcome to the twenty-first century, Texas fiction. Your server’s name is Marie, and she’ll take care of you.” 
-- Texas Monthly

"Tierce's prose is a shock to the system... It also feels original, a voice from below that we haven't heard before, that hasn't had the temerity to speak up until now."
-- Texas Observer

"Love Me Back is an uncompromising read, one reason why it's so hard to put down. Marie describes her own misadventures...with brutal self-awareness and a matter-of-fact tone."
-- The Dallas Morning News

“In short, interwoven stories, Tierce’s voice-driven narrative paints Marie’s story in language that’ll floor you. Her sentences, poetic at times, are honest, dirty, sexy, and at times, tragic; Love Me Back hits the full spectrum of emotion with its completely unique reading experience.”
-- Bustle

“The book remains observational and cool, and that’s part of its power…there’s something deeper behind the initial resolute sadness, and it’s a pleasure to figure it out.”

“Tierce's prose possesses the force, bluntness and surprise of a sucker punch. Love Me Back is an unflinching and galvanic novel full of heart and heartache; one of my favorite books of the last few years.”
--Carrie Brownstein, co-creator of Portlandia 

"Merritt Tierce's debut novel, Love Me Back, is a gorgeous, dirty razor of prose--sharp and dangerous and breathtaking. This is a defiant story about a young woman choosing the life and motherhood that is best for her, without apology. At times, Love Me Back puts Marie into such vulnerable, honest, reckless places you want to cringe, but the fierce strength of Tierce's writing and the electric wonder of Marie's character will not allow you to look away." 
--Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State

“Merritt Tierce must have some kind of magic. She has written a book that, on the surface, is about a waitress moving from job to job, but it is so ferocious, so powerful, so fearlessly told, that by the end I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me. Even now I have the urge to walk down the street and give a copy to everyone I pass, pressing it into their hands, telling them, "Read this. Read it now." Love Me Back is that brilliant and that necessary.”
-- Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

“Love Me Back never flinches, and woe to the reader who comes to this book with the expectation of healing, redemption, a heartwarming tale of human resilience or any of the other fatuous dreck that all too often passes for 'literary fiction' these days.  You won't find so much as a sentimental comma in this staggeringly fine debut novel, and that's part of the thrill and terror of reading it.  Merritt Tierce goes headfirst into the stuff of life as it's actually lived, with all its messy contortions and life-changing catastrophes, its schizophrenically mixed motives, its demolition derbies of sex and love and our endless yearning for that sweet spot in between.  Tierce roams like an avenging angel across the landscape of 21st-century American decadence, and the truths she writes achieve a state of near-sacred subversion."
Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Love Me Back is breathtaking, addictive, sexy, raw and honest. I found myself gasping at the beauty and sadness of this tale of a bright, damaged young woman trapped in a service industry life -- I felt her bruises right through the page. Merritt Tierce has written my favorite debut of the year.”
--Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins

"Assembled of sentences unflinching, flirtatious, both raw and surgically precise, Love Me Back is absolutely enthralling from first word to last. A lurid and devastating diorama of womanhood within the so-called service industry, it's also one of the most vital books about our invisible underclass I've read in years. Merritt Tierce is here to stay."
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn
“Marie, the young, self-destructive woman in Merritt Tierce's sad and dirty and beautifully written novel, Love Me Back, is one of the most memorable characters I've ever come across in fiction. Merritt Tierce is a hell of a writer.  Believe me, after reading this book, you will never look at your waitress in quite the same way again.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time

Product Details ISBN-10: 0385538073
ISBN-13: 9780385538077
Published: Doubleday, 09/16/2014
Pages: 224
Language: English