I Fear My Pain Interests You
A Novel
Part of the Verso Fiction series
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Paperback with free ebook
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192 pages / September 2022 / 9781839766022
September 2022 / 9781839766046

An absurdist novel about fame, culture and connections, bodies and breakdowns from the author of The Superrationals

Margot’s on her way to Montana, with blood on her face and a jeweled cigarette case full of pills. She’s fresh from a bad break-up and fleeing the cold comforts of her famous family – legendary punk parents and an overbearing show business scion of a grandmother.  

But while the eyes of the world are elsewhere for the first time in Margot's life, a graveyard encounter with a disgraced doctor and the discovery of a dozen old film reels leads to a troubling new subjecthood, as her congenital inability to feel pain puts her center stage for one man’s desire and ambition.    

A jarringly sensual book about the peculiarities of our bodies and the impossibilities of our families, and a young woman trying to find a way forward with both.


I Fear My Pain Interests You is meticulously constructed, with each part supporting and supported by the others. Controlled self-awareness like this in novels makes me pay close attention, enriching my experience.”

“The cool girl book of the year”

“The hard, clipped, and cool voice that speaks from within Stephanie LaCava's I Fear My Pain Interests You will live in my head for a long time. Here is a novel that seems to shrug off the pain of being young and adrift in the world, while secretly, it draws you into the dark recesses of loneliness and disillusionment. I fear her book will destroy you.”

“I can’t wait to be lured into another of LaCava's stylized settings, this time an exploration of 1960s cinema and bodily absurdities.”

“A sharp critical vision lurches into focus: of culture as commodity, of suffering as currency, and of the female body as this agon's generalized battleground.”

“I haven't read a book in a while that just pulled me in, and you're so immersed in the characters and in the world. It's quite a slice of life.”

“It's the liquid flush of the voice undulating beneath the veneer of the book's punky mask that drew me in.”

“The daughter of punk rockstars, with a jeweled cigarette case full of pills and a bloody face, flees to Montana for a quieter life - only to uncover her congenital inability to feel pain, which puts her at risk of one man's desire and ambition, in this absurdist novel about fame and bodies.”

“Whether it's [Margot's] pain or her detachment that fascinates us, I Fear My Pain Interests You examines issues of power, how it is or is not inherited, what the consequences of being defined by others are, and the ways pain shapes us.”

“Understated and elegant, LaCava's writing inspires both dread and longing; her characters, nearly all of them direct to the point of cruelty, also seem unable to say anything that would lead to real emotional connection. The horrors of this book build so subtly that their apex seems both unfathomable and inevitable, like a deep fear that finally comes to pass.”

“Nonlinear in format and stark in its use of language, this brief but impactful novel is going to stay with me for a while. I Fear My Pain Interests You is a stark and singularly unforgettable read.”

“LaCava approaches her second novel, I Fear My Pain Interests You, as the next logical step beyond our obsession with a sad–girl world. The kind of dissociative feminism she skewers is a well–documented media phenomenon. Rather than further suggesting distance and aloofness like the cool–girl trope, LaCava inverts this concept to lift Margot away from the trappings of commodification.”

“[I Fear My Pain Interests You] considers what it means to be a woman in the world, as well as pain, sex, fear, corporeal or otherwise, and maybe even love as well.”

“Like a lyric from a cherished song or a fragment from a beloved poem, I Fear My Pain Interests You hints at all the most compelling themes - hurting, intrigue, dominance, submission, lust, and dysfunction.”

“A quality of distance - from sensation and experience, from self and others - manifests most effectively when characters are talking; no one writes dialogue quite like LaCava.”

“Stunning ... I Fear My Pain Interests You is slim but satisfying, with LaCava as our talented chef who won't let us forget whose bones we're gnawing on.”

“Elegant ... [I Fear My Pain Interests You] is seeded with references to jazz music and to body-horror French arthouse film, and these frame LaCava's attempt to do something transformative with violence and suffering.”

“Sinister, revolting - and uncannily elegant.”


“A visceral, exorcism-like exploration of a body blunted to pain and a mind moulded by generational trauma, lust, and dysfunction ... sensual, slippery and stylish.”

“Depressed, isolated, and deprived of her own creative outlet, Margot's plight is tragic, but not without its own perverse sense of comedy: no pain, no fame.”

“A darkly humorous look at wealth, nepotism and the emotional turmoil of the protagonist, Margot, who is blessed with both. A writer to watch.”

“A cool, cutthroat razor of a novel.”

“It destroyed me, in a good way.”

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