It Lasts Forever and Then It's Over
by Anne de Marcken
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Pub Date 7 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024
The heroine of the spare and haunting It Lasts Forever and Then It’s Over is voraciously alive in the afterlife. Adrift yet keenly aware, she notes every bizarre detail of her new reality. And even if she has forgotten her name and much of what connects her to her humanity, she remembers with an implacable and nearly unbearable longing the place where she knew herself and was known—where she loved and was loved. Traveling across the landscapes of time and of space, heading always west, and carrying a dead but laconically opinionated crow in her chest, our undead narrator encounters and loses parts of her body and her self in one terrifying, hilarious, and heartbreaking situation after another. A tale for our dispossessed times, and one of the sharpest and funniest novels of recent years, It Lasts Forever and Then It’s Over plumbs mortality and how it changes everything, except possibly love.
‘Astounding, inventive, and utterly original, Anne de Marcken has written a freakish classic with wisdom to spare about life, death, and the eerily vast space between. I was absolute putty in this book’s hands.’
— Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun
‘It Lasts Forever and Then It’s Over is sad, shocking, funny, prophetic, visceral, and deeply human. From amid the dislocations, the lacerations, a profound meditation arises. Highly recommended.’
— Jeff VanderMeer, author of Dead Astronauts
‘Anne de Marcken must write in a charmed ink that first erases the line between the living and the dead, and then — with prose as elegant as it is spooked — tells the story of what lies underneath. I have never read anything like this brilliant debut.’
— Sabrina Orah Mark, author of Wild Milk
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 16 members
"It Lasts Forever and Then It's Over" by Anne de Marcken is a forthcoming novel that introduces a fresh and captivating voice in literature. Published in the UK by Fitzcarraldo Editions, known for their commitment to bold and daring literature, this book offers a unique reading experience.
Throughout my reading of this book, I found myself often navigating through a plot that was intentionally enigmatic. However, the true draw of this novel lies in its exquisite prose, marked by its lyrical and powerful writing. The narrative is masterfully delivered by an unnamed protagonist who finds herself adrift in the afterlife, where a series of weird events unfold.
This is a book that undoubtedly deserves a re-reading. It is relatively short, consisting primarily of short passages that make for a quick and immersive read. Anne de Marcken demonstrates her considerable talent as a writer, leaving me eager to read more of her work in the future.
Note: I will post the review on my Instagram and other social media closer to release date.
In all honesty, my reasons for picking up this book were more superficial than substantial - 'It Lasts Forever and Then It's Over' is one of the most sublime, poetic titles I've ever come across, and any blurb which contains a favourable quote from Alexandra Kleeman is an instant object of interest for me. Having now actually read the novel (rather than simply its front and back pages), I am pleased to say that it offers a rebuttal to the old saying: Anne de Marcken's work is proof that it IS possible to judge a book by its cover; inside and out, this is a piece of tender, elegant, and sharply crafted literature.
As a fragmentary text, told in a series of loosely connected vignettes (and without a clear-cut narrative thread to follow), readers who prefer their novels to contain lucid, explicit stories may feel lost - but, particularly in relation to the text's central consideration of grief and mournning, I felt it really worked here: de Marcken's disorientating, unmoored prose seems to reflect her narrator's sense of loss; she, too, is adrift in the world, thrown off course by the absence of her loved one. And, perhaps due to the use of the crow motif (in an earlier edition of the text, an image of a black bird takes up most of the cover), the tone of the novel feels (in a favourable sense) comparable to that of Poe's work - at times, I felt like I was reading a modern twist on 'The Raven': disturbing, perturbing, and totally unforgettable.
Thank you to Fitzcarraldo Editions and NetGalley for this ARC ebook!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Fitzcarraldo for a digital ARC in exchange for a review.
This is a very dreamlike novella, taking the reader on a journey after death. There's little in the way of actual plot, but that didn't stop me enjoying the ride - the descriptive writing is beautiful and paints a very effective picture of the frequently bizarre (and slightly disturbing, in places) surroundings of the narrator. The title is perfect, summing up both the book's contents and the reading experience (not in a bad way, though - I read this over several days, but enjoyed picking it up and re-immersing myself every time). Fitzcarraldo always select unique and interesting reads for publication, and this title fits in nicely with their selection.
Published 7 March 2024. The blurb describes this as one of 'sharpest and funniest novels of recent years' but I just found it dark and quite sad. The writing is poetic and - if this makes sense - unstructured which I think represents our narrator as she searches for meaning. Our narrator is in limbo; she is not alive but she is not dead. In old fashioned horror terms I suppose you could describe her as a zombie, but that term has so many connotations that do not fit here. She is losing body parts, she is losing some memories but she still retains fragments of memories relating to love, relating to the 'you' that she talks of and seems to be looking for. Within her, she has bound a dead crow that she talks to as she travels looking for meaning. In her alive but not dead state she observes everything around her and tries to accept this new state but the loss of this 'you' is something that she finds painful as she remembers this love even though she can no longer her own name. A book that makes you question life and death.
Huge thanks to Fitzcarraldo & Netgally for allowing me to read this eArc pre publication for my honest review.
This feels like a unique blend of Seven Moons Of Mali's 'undead' soul caught between worlds & Camilla Grudova's writing raw, graphic darkness, mixed with deeper religious references & a lyrical, rhythmic writing style.
Let your mind go, follow the undead mind & appreciate what this author has achieved. Totally understand why this is another Fitzcarraldo's fantastic publication.
I read & underlined paragraphs several times...
'Did you ever do something you never told anyone? Something shameful. Or something perfect...So you decided you would keep it in, to protect yourself. One way or another...You decided this is the one thing I will die with. I won't be alone because I will have this.'
'I notice that I am having an idea instead of hearing. And when I notice the idea, I instantly stop having it. Like when you are not deeply asleep and you become less deeply asleep because of a click in your brain and then you were suddenly aware that you were more deeply asleep than you knew but also aware that even now you not yet exactly awake.'
Appreciated the raw grief that poured through the pages, which provided an opportunity to pause & reflect on life & the deep traumatic impact of loss.
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'It Lasts Forever and Then It's Over' is one of the most unique books I've read in a while, truly original and brilliantly weird. It opens in some kind of land of the dead (or undead), with our protagonist revealing that her arm has fallen off. It's an opening that immediately establishes the very deadpan humour that the novel does so well - lines like "since he lost his penis he's Mr Wisdom" had me instantly falling in love with de Marcken's witty prose. And then, just as you think you have a handle on what kind of book this will be, it becomes so much more than just witty knob jokes to be an incredibly moving portrayal of loss and grief. I'm no keen highlighter, but this had me constantly noting passages to come back to.
This won't be for everyone. I'm rarely so sure that a novel will be a cult classic, but that's very much a cult classic and not a universally agreed classic. It's weird, it's not massively plotty, and it's not perfect - but it's the kind of novel that I'll want to revisit and that I know is going to REALLY land with a lot of people. If you're in the market for 'The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida' crossed with Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster', I think you'll find a lot to like here.
"Or maybe, I say to the crow or myself, that the end, the end you can only see after it is too late, maybe the end is what makes a beginning what it is. What else is a beginning but the end of something else? The crow says nothing."
This was a breath of fresh air, an imaginative and evocative take on life after death in an oddly visceral and affecting short story about what it means to be alive.
It’s full of lyrical, poetic and deeply vivid prose that’s told like a train of thought, on tangents and observing the rich surroundings with curiosity as our narrator shares their thoughts with us in somehow rambling and coherent ways at the same time - there’s a lot of heavy text with no break but it felt like I was being pulled along with her with a quick, natural flow and the single-string storytelling style created a real sense of isolation but also intimacy with the narrator.
It was entirely dreamlike, feverish in the most delightful way and had that sense of something just being slightly wrong, an eeriness that was unshakeable as the most absurd and disturbing things happen but don’t feel absurd at the time. The strange purgatory we explore is unearthly, chilling but confusingly familiar, with striking scenes and a terrible kind of beauty — and we may never truly know if this really is a zombie uprising, a hell, or post-apocalypse, or a dream but despite the lack of solid answers when I reached that last page I felt some sense of connection, of warmth and happiness at my place in the world, knowing I may never fully understand it.
If you prefer your zombie stories to be all blood and guts with a clear linear narrative, this might not be for you. But if you’re looking for something new and exciting, you need to read this.