Julia Dixon Evans

How to Set Yourself on Fire

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«It’s not romantic," Torrey says. «It’s physics. For every letter there is an equal and opposite, you know…letter.»

Sheila’s life is built of little thievings. Adrift in her mid-thirties, she sleeps in fragments, ditches her temp jobs, eavesdrops on her neighbor’s Skype calls, and keeps a stolen letter in her nightstand, penned by a UPS driver she barely knows. Her mother is stifling and her father is a bad memory. Her only friends are her mysterious, slovenly neighbor Vinnie and his daughter Torrey, a quirky twelve-year-old coping with a recent tragedy.
When her grandmother Rosamond dies, Sheila inherits a box of secret love letters from Harold C. Carr—a man who is not her grandfather. In spite of herself, Sheila gets caught up in the legacy of the affair, piecing together her grandmother’s past and forging bonds with Torrey and Vinnie as intense and fragile as the crumbling pages in Rosamond’s shoebox.
As they get closer to unraveling the truth, Sheila grows almost as obsessed with the letters as the man who wrote them. Somewhere, there’s an answering stack of letters—written in Rosamond’s hand—and Sheila can’t stop until she uncovers the rest of the story. Threaded with wry humor and the ache of love lost or left behind, How to Set Yourself on Fire establishes Julia Dixon Evans as a rising talent in the vein of Shirley Jackson and Lindsay Hunter.
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245 printed pages
Original publication
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    Kau LU Kaulushared an impression3 years ago
    👍Worth reading
    💡Learnt A Lot

    Zoha Zehrashared an impression3 years ago
    👍Worth reading


    Ana-Maria Deachas quotedlast year
    There’s a line on the first page I trace over with my fingers so often that the paper has started to bunch and fray, little specs of worn-down pulp as clingy pieces of papery lint.

    There’s a line on the second page that I wish I could never read again. It has no pulpy lint.

    There’s a line on the third page that I’ve copied out thirty times and counting in my own handwriting in a small book: “ You and I were able to briefly be the most beautiful thing in the world, the kind of beauty that without you, I would never know existed,” I wrote. He wrote. I wondered what it was like to know something so incomprehensible.
    Ana-Maria Deachas quotedlast year
    It’s not supposed to have been three years since I was happy. I almost don’t remember it. I almost don’t believe I ever was.
    kotaricaahas quotedlast year
    This is why I don’t have friends. This is why I stopped having friends. This is why it’s not worth it. Nobody is ever worth getting close to if I second guess myself all the time

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