In the early days of the new millennium, the handsome, charismatic Loudermilk and his unassuming, socially anxious friend Harry Rego, scam their way into a fellowship at the most prestigious creative writing program in the country.
[Ives's] newly published book, Loudermilk, a satire, explores a complex web of plot and episodes, thick descriptions, biting character arcs, poetic and philosophical precision, stylistically different stories/poems within stories, the nature of time, and the mirage of power (or the possibility of unveiling politics, and cracking open agency). By employing a classical theatrical technique of dramatis personae, rather than 'realistic' novel characters, perhaps Ives is able to move between so many registers that enable her unusual 'mash-up' to excel as at once philosophical and planted in the mud ... Ives’s style of satire shatters the dichotomy between meta-narrative and human empathy. Breaking such a distinction requires rare observational skill, patience, and multi-genre flexibility and curiosity ... 'the writer' offers endless material for representational consideration ... Ives’s scrutiny offers clarity, punctual comic timing, and practiced contemplation.
...hilarious ... Poetry, long thought to be the product of creative purity—and almost anti-capitalist in its unmarketability—becomes a tool for deception and self-promotion in Ives’s capable hands ... What exactly Loudermilk is after—money? unfettered access to female undergrads? cultural capital? pulling one over on the poetry world?—is never fully addressed. But the story isn’t any less captivating as a result ... Loudermilk is successful in getting readers to think about the origins of contemporary literature: The MFA program and the satellite communities that arise from it may be, after all, functional last bastions of literary ideas in the United States. But the novel falters when it tries to be about more than just Loudermilk’s deception ... To make matters more difficult, the novel is interspersed with giant chunks of [the character] Clare’s fiction, all of which is far less interesting than Harry’s poetry ... Still, Loudermilk is, overall, a riotous success. Equal parts campus novel, buddy comedy and meditation on art-making under late capitalism, the novel is a hugely funny portrait of an egomaniac and his nebbish best friend.
...a clever new satire ... It seems implausible to me that a shy literary boy would put himself so abjectly at the service of a hot jock out of no more than a confused gratitude for being implicated vicariously in the scrum of human society, but Ives’s novel is full of signs that she doesn’t think much of traditional literary shibboleths like three-dimensionality of character ... Ives scores some fine touches in her satire ... I never laughed out loud, though, and in the end I found myself more interested in the novel’s half-hidden earnest side: its exhibition, with persuasive bitterness, of the damage that can be wreaked by the idea that literature is competition, especially when the idea is institutionalized in a classroom ... Ives may relish breaking the rules of realism, but she breaks the rules of comic novels, too, when she insists that her losers win.