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Here Is a Game We Could Play: A Novel
by Jenny Bitner
Acre Books, 2021
Paper: 978-1-946724-40-3 | eISBN: 978-1-946724-41-0

A dreamlike novel set in Pennsylvania in the 1990s, Here Is a Game We Could Play is the story of Claudia, an intelligent eccentric trapped in the rundown industrial town she grew up in—a place plagued with troubling memories and hidden threats. Seeking escape from tedium, loneliness, and her obsessive fear of poisoning, Claudia retreats into books. . . and into a fantasy life with her perfect lover, to whom she addresses letters about her life, all the while imagining outlandish sexual scenarios.

​In each fantasy, her lover takes a different form, ranging from a prison guard in a world where metaphor is forbidden, to a more-than-brotherly Hansel from the Grimms’ fairy tale, to a tentacled mind-reading space alien. All share a desire for a deep intimacy that eludes Claudia, even as she forms new real-life relationships and reconsiders her sexual identity—building a rapport with an elderly volunteer at the library, striking up a friendship with a wily temp at her dead-end job, and embarking on a passionate affair with Rose, the town’s new librarian. When paranoia threatens to ruin her relationship with Rose, Claudia is forced not only to combat her anxiety but to face the unresolved trauma in her past—the disappearance of her father on a night she has long repressed. 

Funny, dark, inventive, and moving, Here Is a Game We Could Play is an original debut novel recalling the work of Aimee Bender, Angela Carter, Rebecca Brown, and Margaret Atwood.

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