• Quick Kills, the latest novel by Lynn Lurie is out on Etruscan Press, Fall 2014

    Lynn Lurie's newest novel:
    quick killsavailable Fall 2014 by Etruscan Press.

  • Quick Kills, a novel by Lynn Lurie

    "For the next year an allergist threads tiny needles beneath the skin on my inner wrist, injecting dozens of allergens. I ask if this is necessary, after all I know what caused it—wasps or hornets—I saw the hive." ~ Quick Kills

  • Quick Kills, a novel by Lynn Lurie

    "If only she had waited and seen how I hesitated at his door, the way I shuffled my feet as I looked through the dirty pane of glass." ~ Quick Kills

  • Quick Kills, a novel by Lynn Lurie

    "Flickering candles on the dining room table turn the seated guests into shadows that rise and fall across the raised velvet wallpaper. Mother sees me first and gasps." ~ Quick Kills

  • Quick Kills, a novel by Lynn Lurie
Quick Kills

Praise & Reviews for Quick Kills

"The expert hunter kills quickly, precisely. With enough training, the hunter can cause death to his prey in ten seconds or less. These wounds are called "Quick Kills," and are thought to be a form of ethical hunting for those who approve of the sport. Of course, the prey didn't ask to be killed, and what happens when those wounds are imprecise? What happens when the hunter lets himself fall victim to his own dark desires?

Lynn Lurie's second novel, Quick Kills, is a jagged wound that refuses to heal. The wound is reopened time and time again; it bleeds itself dry and scabs over only to be picked at by the clumsy hands of the hunters who make the young girls of the story their prey. Though short, Quick Kills is rich with tense, foreboding material that crosses the lines of consent and violation, need and want, dread and desire, love and the dark, nameless thing that pretends to be love.

A young girl grows up in precarious circumstances. She watches as the girls around her become women, suddenly aware of their more devious inclinations. She watches as her own older sister is visited nightly by their abusive father, and her observations are coated with a thick layer of jealousy. Following a description of her sister's nightly ritual in preparation for their father, she explains:"

I wasn't born yet when she waited for him, but I was there (…) when she let him rub her back or reach under her shirt to straighten her bra strap, when she rested her head in the crook of his neck and sighed.

"This main character — whose name appears so infrequently as to be virtually nonexistent — becomes a fly on the wall of her own life, and her often detached perspective stands starkly against such evocative themes. She carefully examines the fragmented details of her life: blood that seeps into her sandwich bread and covers the driveway after her father guts a kill, moss and algae that grow along the water like an unknown disease, death that bookends nearly every story of her childhood. It is that lack of touch, that need to feel something concrete, that permeates Quick Kills — as the narrator rubs her hands up and down her mother's fur coat-covered back and is pushed away; as she hates her father and yet desires his attentions so fervently; and when she finally, as a child, begins her own sexual relationship with a much older photographer who photographs her nude before forcing himself inside her. This, she believes, is what she needs.

"Even the newscaster couldn't say if Patty Hearst was kidnapped or if she had gone willingly," she states within the first few pages of the book. Certainty that is uncertain and memory that fades are constants throughout Lurie's book, and the photographs in her story that once froze pockets of time eventually become ruined; they are lost, found, and discarded. "I don't remember" are the words that stick throughout the story and in the years that follow. As she attempts to come to terms with the events that are lost, or that she's in the process of losing, memory becomes, for Lurie's narrator, both a crippling and empowering phenomenon.

The need for identity has a similar duality, and the power of Lurie's work is present in the idea of transformation that is persistent in her novel. In one instance, the Photographer melds together photos of his young lover and turns her into a "garden hose of coiled snakes," where the last one faces back "as it tries to swallow itself." The narrator becomes the ouroboros — that same symbol of rebirth and change that she attempts to capture in her own costume-based photography projects. She becomes everyone and no one. She becomes Eve and revels in her nakedness, owning it as her own even as she presents it to the Photographer. Throughout her pain and her struggle, throughout the neglect and the abuse and the feelings of futility and, most of all, self-blame, it is these moments that shine through and lend a unique voice to Lurie's novel.

It's not the first time – and certainly not the last – that these difficult subjects will be broached in literature, but it's interesting to see how each author chooses to tackle it. Nabokov's Lolita was seductive and strange, enduring through time as something that entrances us through its morbid fascination with the taboo. Quick Kills is a harsher work, less fantastic and more approachable. Lurie's words cut deep and force the reader to reexamine and reevaluate the truth of their own memories. There are some wounds that never seem to stop bleeding. Quick Kills is one of them."

~ Nicole Capó - The Literary Review

Foreward writes of Quick Kills,

"A potent command of language enables this gifted author to leave an unforgettable mark on those who have lived through her work."


"A teenager recounts an inappropriate relationship with a photographer and other unhealed wounds of youth.

Prepare to be disturbed by this slim but disquieting novel about the perils of youth and the trespasses committed against a young girl. This second novel by Lurie (Corner of the Dead, 2008) is purposefully vague in its descriptions but nevertheless carries with it a feeling of dread for its unnamed female narrator. As the book opens, she is roughly 13 years old and engaged in an unsuitable relationship with a photographer who tells her that young girls fill canvasses and who takes many, many nude photographs of her. She also has a rough-and-tumble brother, Jake, and a fragile sister, Helen. Their father, a hunter, also seems to represent an omnipresent threat. In one scene, Helen arrives with smeared eyeliner, trailing blood: "As she passes me in the foyer, she says to Mother. I had nothing to do with this. Why don't you ask Daddy?" The mother in question is equally guilty of the crimes of this household, emotionally absent and quick to overlook the obvious damage being done to her daughters. As the narrator indulges her own interests in photographing the world around her, readers should experience these flashes of imagery much as she does—the grotesque and the beautiful, all wrapped up in one another. By the end of the book, it becomes a story of survivor's guilt as the narrator invests her hurt in brief, broken and unwise liaisons. "By having done nothing all these years I didn't protect the others that must have come after me," she admits, in the end. As a bildungsroman, the story is lacking in detail, emotional depth and character arc, but it nevertheless leaves a frightening and lingering restlessness in its wake that may be hard for readers to shake.

A ghost story about the inner life of a girl who lives among monsters."

"Quick Kills by Lynn Lurie: Lurie's first novel, Corner of the Dead, featured a photojournalist traumatized by the atrocities committed by the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru during the 1980s. In Quick Kills, the narrator is a young girl who finds herself on the other side of the camera, the exploited subject of a predatory photographer: "There is fear in my eyes. I see the fear clearly even in the blurred snapshot." This slim work looks to be an unsettling rumination on art, pornography and sexual violence."
~ Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview, The Millions

"Lynn Lurie's Quick Kills is fraught with lessons, not least among them this: if the heart is a lonely hunter, what it tracks can never be helped. But loneliness itself, we also learn, is never really alone. It runs hand in hand with fear, which, most of all, is what this book is about. In this ruthless examination of a family's corrosion beneath the shadow of secrets and lies, Lurie takes us, sentence by sentence—through the mind of a girl who somehow finds a way past the horrors inside so seemingly harmless a thing as a seashell or beach ball—deeper into menace, lower into vice, farther into dark. Lines lose meaning in this world. Boundaries don't exist. What we think we see might be what is, but at every turn, we have to look again. Where is shelter? Where is safety? What does it mean to trust? I'd say not to read this book unless you're ready to see, yet that would prevent my saying how much you'd otherwise lose. You must absolutely read this book."
~ D. Foy, author of Made to Break

"Quick Kills is terrifying. In vivid snapshots, this small book chronicles a life too immense and wrong to be made okay. The threat of men is everywhere. You won't be able to stop reading, and you'll ache for the narrator to be safe, for everything and everyone in her past to be undone."
~ David Vann, author of Goat Mountain

"In deft, seemingly effortless sentences that give us neither too much nor too little, a girl intensely scrutinizes herself and her family, not always sure of what she's really seeing, but knowing enough to be afraid. Filled with quiet menace, Quick Kills is a clearheaded and merciless examination of the damage that shapes us, for better and for worse."
~ Brian Evenson, author of Immobility

"Spread your hair above your head like a halo," insists The Photographer. Then he gets her. Each tense vignette in Quick Kills is a photo of quiet terror; the girl nude is everywhere and flayed. Like Nobel-winner Herta Muller, Lurie dissects, with terse particularity, the destruction of a girl-child, image by image. A book of great courage."
~ Terese Svoboda, author of Bohemian Girl

"Quick Kills is a chronicle of bewilderment sprung from the terrible want to be wanted, the paralyzing flux of allegiances that keeps us pinned where we ought not be. Girls go missing as readily as shoes in this darkly suggestive novel; nobody's paying much attention but the predators, who are everywhere and swift. the reader is left to navigate by images, flashes in the dark - a drawer stuffed with frogs, a spatter of blood, a child in an empty swimming pool. Lurie insists that we look, keep looking, make beauty from the ruin, and live."
~ Noy Holland, author of Swim for the Little One First

"Quick Kills is terrifying. In vivid snapshots, this small book chronicles a life too immense and wrong to be made okay. The threat of men is everywhere. You won't be able to stop reading, and you'll ache for the narrator to be safe, for everything and everyone in her past to be undone."
-David Vann, author of Goat Mountain

"In deft, seemingly effortless sentences that give us neither too much nor too little, a girl intensely scrutinizes herself and her family, not always sure of what she's really seeing, but knowing enough to be afraid. Filled with quiet menace, Quick Kills is a clearheaded and merciless examination of the damage that shapes us, for better and for worse."
-Brian Evenson, author of Immobility

"Lynn Lurie's Quick Kills is fraught with lessons, not least among them this: if the heart is a lonely hunter, what it tracks can never be helped. But loneliness itself, we also learn, is never really alone. It runs hand in hand with fear, which, most of all, is what this book is about. In this ruthless examination of a family's corrosion beneath the shadow of secrets and lies, Lurie takes us, sentence by sentence—through the mind of a girl who somehow finds a way past the horrors inside so seemingly harmless a thing as a seashell or beach ball—deeper into menace, lower into vice, farther into dark. Lines lose meaning in this world. Boundaries don't exist. What we think we see might be what is, but at every turn, we have to look again. Where is shelter? Where is safety? What does it mean to trust? I'd say not to read this book unless you're ready to see, yet that would prevent my saying how much you'd otherwise lose. You must absolutely read this book." -D. Foy, author of Made to Break

"Spread your hair above your head like a halo," insists The Photographer. Then he gets her. Each tense vignette in Quick Kills is a photo of quiet terror; the girl nude is everywhere and flayed. Like Nobel-winner Herta Muller, Lurie dissects, with terse particularity, the destruction of a girl-child, image by image. A book of great courage."
-Terese Svoboda, author of Bohemian Girl

"Quick Kills is a chronicle of bewilderment sprung from the terrible want to be wanted, the paralyzing flux of allegiances that keeps us pinned where we ought not be. Girls go missing as readily as shoes in this darkly suggestive novel; nobody's paying much attention but the predators, who are everywhere and swift. the reader is left to navigate by images, flashes in the dark- a drawer stuffed with frogs, a spatter of blood, a child in an empty swimming pool. Lurie insists that we look, keep looking, make beauty from the ruin, and live."
-Noy Holland, author of Swim for the Little One First