Merritt Tierce’s debut novel, Love Me Back, hit our booksellers hard. The story of Marie, a waitress at an upscale restaurant in Dallas, is told in cutting scenes of sex and drug abuse juxtaposed against crystalline descriptions of Marie’s love for her daughter. This novel is rough and unapologetic, full of powerful sentences that tear through Marie’s experience and impressed the heck out of many of us. Fans of Mary Gaitskill and Donald Ray Pollack will want to give this one a try.
Tierce is a Texas writer who earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a 2013 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Author. Her first published story, Suck It, was selected by ZZ Packer to be anthologized in the 2008 edition of New Stories from the South. Love Me Back has met with much critical acclaim.
Tierce will read from Love Me Back here at BookPeople Monday, September 29 at 7pm. We hope you can join us. Love Me Back is unlike any new book we’ve read in quite a while. Tierce’s talent is undeniable and we’re grateful for this opportunity to have her here in the store to celebrate this bold first novel.
Love Me Back is also October’s pick for the next Austin Chronicle Book Club. You can join their Twitter chat about the book on Monday, October 20 at 7pm.
Bookseller Praise for LOVE ME BACK
“Love Me Back is deceptive in such an intriguing way. I started out believing I knew who the character of Marie is and where her story would lead. Merritt Tierce jumps back and forth in the chronology to reveal a portrait of a complicated woman whom I slowly identified with more and more as the novel progressed. It is gritty, in-your-face humanity, not for the faint of heart.”
“Love Me Back is more than a stupendously written novel. This is the raw story of service industry and self-destruction at an upscale restaurant in Dallas. But don’t be deceived, this isn’t a tale of wanton excess akin to its predominantly male predecessors (looking at you, Bukowski). Love Me Back explores the beauty in pain and the things we love, how they tether us to the cliff even as we peer over the edge. Tierce does not play games. Her prose works like steak knives on the heart.”
“Tierce tells Marie’s story honestly, which in some instances means brutally (partying with coworkers and some of her higher-paying clientele, risking her life in new ways almost daily) and in others means piercingly and poetically (describing her sleeping daughter’s eyelids, or her adoration of past lovers)…Tierce’s novel cannot be lumped together with other fictional portrayals of addicts and wanderers, told in stark, purposefully alienating language, because we know its empathetic, intelligent, hopeful heart. This book will hurt you, and it will show you a thousand tiny, beautiful things while it does. And there’s a good chance that you will love it back.”
“So the reason I love Love Me Back is because it describes the work environment of the service industry restaurant as a semi-permanent state of affairs; a work environment that you can take pride in, and that physically breaks you down, just like industrial labor. I think this is an important book for a postindustrial service economy. It represents the lives of those who work in this economy long term, not just as a stop gap measure. It is also an important exploration of gender dynamics in this mainly male dominated kitchen environment.”
Praise from Writers & Artists:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Merritt Tierce reads from and signs Love Me Back here at BookPeople Monday, September 29 at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Love Me Back are now available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.