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I loved this book. There are a thousand ways to write a sentence, and Merritt Tierce seems to find the newest, best one, unique, not all put together, and exactly perfect. It’s not the most uplifting tale, and yet there is so much heart to Marie and her troubled desperation to survive in spite of herself. I feel like I should say that it’s a raw book, but it’s really not, because the writing is so good. And though it's young and fresh, it's not hip. Nothing is ironic. It just feels real, red, America. Like the premium steak served rare at The Restaurant where Marie works, this book is smooth and rich despite the bloodiness of its truth.
Lost in early adulthood and the riot of the service industry, Marie attempts to numb herself with work, sex, and drugs. She's a young mother who’s never felt motherly; she gives everyone her body but keeps her heart closed; she’s a vegetarian working in an upscale steakhouse. Merritt Tierce spares no detail of Marie’s reckless self-destruction in a way that’s shocking without sensationalism. There is nothing flashy here, where a less adept writer could misstep into melodrama. Love Me Back searing, raw, and matter-of-fact. Tierce’s stunning ability to convey Marie’s desolation without just telling is effortless and real. Rarely do we get observations from our damaged narrator about her emotions—because she herself doesn’t want to look there—but when we do, they drop like anvils. We feel her ache, her desperation, her brokenness so fully. Expertly written and completely consuming. A page-turner of the least fluffy, fiercest variety.
Waitressing at a fancy restaurant where patrons are both noxious and moneyed, 20-something Marie lives out the complexities of modern womanhood. She spends her shifts planning her nights—mostly spent with an uncaring lover or mournfully fussing over her baby girl. Yet there is a self-awareness in her voice that begs you to consider life’s small complexities. This is a hurricane between two covers, but you’ll not regret being whirled away.
October 2014 Indie Next List
“Not for the faint of heart or for those who need redemptive tales, Love Me Back is the story of Marie, a very smart, hard-working, but self-destructive young woman waitressing at a high-end restaurant in Dallas. In spare prose, Tierce brings the reader inside the world of the service industry and inside the head of a 20-something who makes many bad choices. Drugs, alcohol, casual sex, rundown apartments - these are the everyday things of Marie's existence. Tierce skillfully draws the reader into this world with a story that is eye opening, sometimes shocking, but never dull. Recommended!”
— Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
A Chicago Tribune,Electric Literature, and BookRiot Best Book of the Year A National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Author
Marie is a waitress at an upscale Dallas steakhouse, attuned to the appetites of her patrons and gifted at hiding her private struggle as a young single mother behind an easy smile and a crisp white apron. It’s a world of long hours and late nights, and Marie often gives in to self-destructive impulses, losing herself in a tangle of bodies and urgent highs as her desire for obliteration competes with a stubborn will to survive.
Pulsing with a fierce and feral energy, Love Me Back is an unapologetic portrait of a woman cutting a precarious path through early adulthood and the herald of a powerful new voice in American fiction.
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 and in 2019 she received a Whiting Award. Merritt lives near Dallas with her husband and children.
“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
“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.” —Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
“A heart-cracking read.” —The Chicago Tribune
“Breathtaking, addictive, sexy, raw and honest. . . . My favorite debut of the year.” —Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins "A prayer to everything broken, vulnerable, and human" —BookRiot
“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 “Hard to put down.” —The Dallas Morning News “Tierce’s prose possesses the force, bluntness and surprise of a sucker punch. . . . One of my favorite books of the last few years.” —Carrie Brownstein, co-creator of Portlandia
"More or less tore my scalp off" —Tom Nissley, The Millions
“Unforgettable.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Absolutely enthralling from first word to last. . . . One of the most vital books about our invisible underclass I've read in years.” —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn "One of the year's most beautiful books" —The Dallas Observer “A staggeringly fine novel.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“Exceptional. . . . Tierce’s writing reflects the plot's quick, sinuous turns.” —The Huffington Post
“A compulsively readable yet highly literary novel. . . . Announces Tierce as a writer we’ve been waiting for much too long.” —Oxford American “One of the most mesmerizing heroines in recent fiction. . . . A compulsively readable tale [that] threatens to drag Texas literature kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.” —Texas Monthly
“Will floor you. [Tierce’s] sentences, poetic at times, are honest, dirty, sexy, and at times, tragic. . . . A completely unique reading experience.” —Bustle
“(A) sexy, honest debut.” —Marie Claire
“Tierce writes with a visceral, unsentimental directness.” —The New Yorker
“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
“Sad and dirty and beautifully written novel. . . . 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