At times funny, at other times sad, and more than often a mixture of the two, Giving Up by Mike Steeves is a deeply felt account of what goes on in the inner sanctum of the modern couple's apartment.
In grappling with the line between what happened and what might have happened, Steeves gives voice to the anguish of a generation of people who grew up with great expectations, and are now settling into their own personal failures and compromises: James is obsessed with completing his life's work. Mary is worried about their problems starting a family, and is scared that their future might not turn out as she'd planned. In the span of a few hours on an ordinary night in a non-descript city, two relatively small events will have enormous consequences on James' and Mary's lives, both together and apart.
With an unrelenting prose style and pitch-black humour, Giving Up addresses difficult topics--James's ruinous ambition, and Mary's quiet anguish--in a funny and relatable way.
Priase for Giving Up:
Mike Steeves is a brilliant, singular voice in Can Lit: funny and fresh and fast! Giving Up burns and glows with the intensity of a blue flame and all the pathos and obsessiveness and truth and absurdity of modern coupledom.
- Miriam Towes, author of All My Puny Sorrows
Few first novels in recent memory are as consistently charming, smart, entertaining and incisive as Giving Up. Somehow Mike Steeves has written a page-turner about stray cats and trips to the bank, and a story that treads through the banalities of everyday life with such precision to cast each detail, every gesture and object and silence, with great meaning.
- Pasha Malla
Mike Steeves' Giving Up is in places like a Facebook-era version of Paula Fox's 1970s New York classic Desperate Characters: a lucid micro-portrait of an apartment-bound couple facing childlessness, marital landlock and a malevolent feline presence. But its pulse is faster, warmer, more irregular -- a chamber piece for two voices sharing disappointingly overhyped takeout. It is a woozily funny yet deeply decent view of adult love that finds the whole rigamarole preposterous but, in that, somehow the more worthwhile. It broke the shit out of my heart. Read it with someone you adore who you fear half the time can't stand the sight of you.
--Carl Wilson, author of Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste
This is a novel of unrelenting relatability, truth, contravention, hope, loss, and usefulness. Within these 208 pages, the reader may be forced to accept the dark side of her/himself, and the society from which s/he was contrived. I can see myself returning to this book once a year, every year, for the rest of my life...
- James Bonner for Nomadic Press