Carrie Pilby

Carrie Pilby

by Caren Lissner


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373210107
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 06/29/2010
Edition description: Original
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 374,564
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Caren Lissner describes herself as a "chronic creative writer" who is constantly thinking of story ideas. A University of Pennsylvania graduate with a B.A. in English, she published both serious and humorous pieces in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, McSweeney's, and Weatherwise Magazine. The joys and frustrations of single nerd-dom in the big city drove her to write the novel Carrie Pilby. You can visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

Carrie Pilby

By Caren Lissner

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373250290

Chapter One

Grocery stores always give me a bag when I don't need one, when I've bought just a pack of gum or a banana or some potato chips that are in a bag already, and then I feel guilty about their wasting the plastic, but the bag is on before I've noticed them reaching for it so I don't say anything. But in the video store, on the other hand, they always ask if I want a bag, and even though, theoretically, I should be able to carry my video without a bag, and the bag is another waste of plastic, I always need a bag at the video store because, for reasons that will soon be understood, I believe all videos should be sheathed.

The camouflage doesn't work today. I'm only half a block out of the store when I see Ronald, the Rice-Haired Milquetoast who works at the coffee shop around the corner, approaching. "Hey, Carrie," he says, looking down at my video. "What'd you get?"

I hate to give this speech again.

"I can't tell you," I say, "and there's a reason I can't. You see, someday, I might want to rent something embarrassing, and I don't necessarily mean porn. It could be a movie that's considered too childish for my age or something violent or maybe Nazi propaganda - for research purposes, of course - and even though the movie I have in my hand is considered a classic, and nothing to be ashamed of, if I show it to you this time but next time I can't, then you'll know for sure that I'm hiding something next time. But if I never tell you what I've rented, it puts enough doubt in your mind that I'm hiding something, so I can feel free to rent porn or cartoons or fascist propaganda or whatever I want without fear of having to reveal what I've rented. The same goes for what I'm reading. I want to be able to pick a mindless novel as well as Dostoyevsky. And I also want to be able to choose something no one's heard of. Most of the time, people say, 'What are you reading?' and if I tell them the name of the book and it's not Moby Dick, they've never heard of it so I have to give an explanation, and if the book's any good it's not something I can explain in two seconds, so I'm stuck giving a twenty-five-page dissertation and by the time I'm done I have no time to finish reading. So books I read and movies I rent are off-limits for discussion. It's nothing personal."

Ronald stands there blinking for a second, then leaves.

My rules make perfect sense to me, but people find them strange. Still, I need them to survive. This world isn't one I understand completely, and it doesn't understand me completely, either. People think I'm odd for a nineteen-year-old girl - or woman, if you're technical - that I neither act excessively young nor excessively "girlish." In truth, I feel asexual a lot of the time, like a walking brain with glasses and long dark hair and a mouth in good working order. If we were to talk about sex as in sex, as opposed to gender - as everyone seems to want to these days - I would say that my mind's not on sex that much, and I was never boy-crazy when I was younger. Which makes me different from just about everyone. I did have crushes on two of my professors in college, one of which actually turned into something, but that's a story for later on. That whole saga only confused me in the end. So much of the world is sex-obsessed that it takes someone practically asexual to realize just how extreme and pervasive it is. It's the main motivator of people's activities, the pith of their jokes and the driving force behind their art, and if you don't have the same level of drive, you almost question whether you should exist. If it's sex that makes the world go around, should the world stop for those of us who are asexual?

I graduated from college a year ago, three years ahead of my peers, and now I spend most of my time inside my apartment in the city. My father pays my rent. I could leave the house more, and I could even get a job, but I don't have much motivation to. My father would like me to work, but he has no right to complain. I remind him that it was his idea to skip me three grades in grammar school, forever putting me at the top of my class academically, in the bottom fifth height-wise, and in the bottom twenty-second socially.

My father is also the one who told me what I refer to as the Big Lie. But that, like all the business with my professor, is a story for later on.

When I get back to my apartment building, Bobby, the superintendent, asks how I'm doing, then takes the opportunity to stare at my rear end. I ignore him and climb the front steps. Bobby's always staring at my rear end. He is also too old to be named Bobby. There are some names that a person should retire after age twelve. Sally, for example. If Sally is your name, you should have it changed upon reaching puberty. Grown men should not be called Joey, Bobby, Billy, Jamie or Jimmy. They can be Harry until the age of ten and after fifty, but not between. They can be Mike, Joe and Jim all their lives. They cannot be Bob during their teenage years.

They can be Stuart, Stefan or Jonathan if they're gay. Christian is not acceptable for Jews. Moishe is not acceptable for Christians. Herbert is not acceptable for anyone. Buddy is good for a beagle. Matt is good for a flat piece of rubber. Fox is good for a fox. Dylan is too trendy.

I get in through the front door and the stairwell door and the apartment door. When I am finally inside, I experience tremendous afterglow. They make the apartments in New York as hard to get into as Tylenol bottles and almost as big.

I see a therapist, Dr. Petrov, once a week. He and my father grew up in London together. Petrov has gray hair and a goatee and still a trace of a British accent. I don't really need to see him, but I go each week because I might as well get my father's money's worth.

The morning after I rent the video, I leave my apartment to see Petrov. It's drizzling softly outside. The air, a soupy mess, scrubs my cheeks, and the few remaining leaves on the trees bend under the weight of raindrops that hang on for a second and dive to their deaths. A pothole in front of my building catches them, emitting a soggy symphony.

There's something I love about visiting Petrov: His building is on one of those quaint little blocks that almost make you forget how seedy other parts of New York can be. Both sides are lined with stately brownstones whose bright painted shutters flank lively flower boxes, the tendrils dripping down and hooking around wires and trellises. The signs on the sidewalk are extremely polite: Please Curb Your Dog; $500 Fine For Noise Here. It's idyllic and lovely. But the only people who get to live here are the folks who inherited these rent-controlled apartments from their rich old grandmas who wore tons of jewelry and played tennis with Robert Moses.

Petrov's waiting room is like a cozy living room, with a gold-colored trodden carpet and regal-footed chairs. One wall is lined with classic novels, a pointless feature since one does not have the time to read Ulysses while waiting for a doctor's appointment. A person would have to make more than 300 visits to Petrov in order to finish the book, which just proves that someone would have to be crazy to read all of Ulysses. But a waiting room is not the proper place or situation to read any book. All books have a time and a place. Anything by Henry Miller, for instance, should be read where no one can see you. Carson McCullers should be read in your window on a hot summer night. Sylvia Plath should be read if you're ready to commit suicide or want people to think you're really close.


Excerpted from Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Carrie Pilby 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Feel good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Carrie Pilby has always been a bit different. She is a child prodigy that graduated college before most of us would even start it. Her hobbies include reading the dictionary, debating morals with herself (and others if she can), and sleeping in her New York apartment. Carrie has a hard time relating to the people around her. She just doesn't get them, and they just don't get her. She's unhappy and alone, although good luck trying to get her to admit it. Carrie is a fantastic character. She readily admits that she just doesn't understand people. She knows it's because of her childhood and intelligence. With the help of her psychologist, she sets up a list of things to do by New Year's that will help her open up to other people and relate to them better. I was a bit surprised to see this was a Harlequin. There is a bit of romance in the story, but it is definitely on the back burner of the story. At center stage is Carrie and the odd group of people she ends up finding herself involved with. They are all very unique and I could see the good, as well as the bad, in all of them. They were the perfect characters to contrast the various aspects of Carrie's personality. There were no fast paced action sequences or sudden turns of events, but the story moved along like a gentle stream that was very relaxing with just enough ripples to keep things interesting. Carrie's struggles were written in a way that anyone could find a piece of her to relate to. 5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Carrie Pilby, a nineteen-year-old prodigy and Harvard graduate, is socially awkward and having a very hard time meeting people that she can befriend or even relate to on a basic level. She consistently looks down on others when they come across as hypocrites based on her moral code or unintelligent based on her search for fellow genius'. At first I hard a very hard time getting into the book, because I found Carrie annoying with her constant judgment of others. She has strict ideals of what people should be like and when someone fails to follow her holier-than-thou code, she judges them instantly and puts them in the immoral/hypocrite pile never be spoken to again. After you reach the middle of the book, Carrie soars! The one thing that made me continue reading was the list that her psychiatrist, Dr. Petrov, makes for her to complete. I was intrigued by the list and wanted to see If she could overcome her outcast status and finally make some friends. 1. List 10 things you love (and DO THEM!) 2. Join a club (and TALK TO PEOPLE!) 3. Go on a date (with someone you actually LIKE!) 4. Tell someone you care (your therapist DOESN'T COUNT!) 5. Celebrate New Year's (with OTHER PEOPLE!) Following Carrie through the list is the fun part. She finally learns to just try things and that everything isn't truly black and white or good and bad, that there are things she can experience that don't completely break her code. I think the most interesting things to see her try are; joining a church because she feels she can expose them as a cult and she finally gets a temp job where she meets people that accept her for her intelligence and unorthodox behavior. In the end, following Carrie through her self discovery is amusing and intriguing. She is witty, sarcastic and charming in her social awkwardness. I think in the end you will fall in love with her quirkiness - I know I did. I think Carrie grew up too fast and was too serious about life at a young age, so she did not have the same youthful experiences that others her age have had. Once she finally works on this list, she truly sees what is it like to live. And well, her Dad was right, "You're cursed. Cursed with a mind. Use it. Don't fear it. But don't let all of your thinking destroy you." Originally posted at Aurora Reviews
Scholar-Berry More than 1 year ago "1. List 10 things you love (and DO THEM!) 2. Join a club (and TALK TO PEOPLE!) 3. Go on a date (with someone you actually LIKE!) 4. Tell someone you care (your therapist DOESN'T COUNT!) 5. Celebrate New Year's (with OTHER PEOPLE!)" My Rating: 10/10 Carrie Pilby is a 19 year old genius that graduated from Harvard at 18. Her mother died when she was too young to remember, and her father told her a Big Lie she still couldn't forgive him for. Carrie guards herself too much and she doesn't have any friends--after all, being a genius doesn't necessarily mean that you're on top of the social ladder. Carrie has a therapist--her father pays her to go to a therapist called Petrov. Petrov is sick of Carrie always closing herself up--so Petrov made the list so Carrie can fit in (or well, attempt her best to). Carrie doesn't really want to--she really thinks it's a waste of time and it's troublesome, but she tried to anyway. So Carrie go and gets a job--she's proof reading for the lawyers in NYC. She meets different kind of people. She puts an ad on the Beacon--some kind of magazine that lets people put an ad for people who look for dates. Mostly, Carrie considers a lot of people--okay, everyone--as hypocrites. Her father told her that when she skips 3 grades, she'll meet people that are like her in college (This is the Big Lie). She was 14 when she went to Harvard, she didn't know better--despite mathematical theorems, lots of literature, philosophical thoughts and pure curiosity and a very high IQ. In Harvard, though, despite her having no friends (that lasts more than a week), she met Harrison, her English Professor. Harrison is smart, different and listens to her. He wasn't creep out by Carrie's constant usage of what others would call out as 'SAT words!' In fact, Harrison was amazed by her. Carrie is young and smart. Carrie's learning about life in New York City, and she feels lonely on New Year's, on a tall building with at least 500 people underneath her on Time Square. Caren Lissner's Carrie Pilby is sophisticated and full of pure curiosity. It's hilarious and simple--but also different. What I love about this book: It's really funny! I've been having the same questions--but mostly feelings--what Carrie had felt. Even though I didn't skip 3 grades or went to Harvard at 14, I could definitely relate to Carrie. She deals with many emotional craziness that passes quite easily because she's been shutting herself out from the rest of the world--even though she wants to fit in. It's really hilarious and I love just even reading Carrie's thoughts. What I dislike about this book: I didn't dislike anything! This book is a perfect ten! Even if you're not a curious person, reading Carrie Pilby will definitely be a very interesting experience!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is truly extraordinary, it is a shame that it is hard to find. It is an extremely original story dealing with a 19 year old girl who has a hard time relating to the world, not wanting to adjust to it, but it adjusting to her. She works on a series of every day items that some go through like they are nothing and learns more about herself and coming to terms with some things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very interesting. I loved the main character trying to find her way in the world. I could relate to the older man who took advantage of her, I had a lot of guys trying to do that to me. I've generally found that I was usually the one who had to make friends or ask guys out but if you are really shy it is difficult. I like seeing her go through her journey.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can so relate to Carrie Pilby. This is such a wonderful, intelligent, funny book-EVERYONE should read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The last 2 years or so, I have been engrossed with the 'chick-lit' books, and i have read many of them. However, this book is probably the best out of all the books that I have recently read. Carrie the perfect main character that almost anyone, in some way, can relate to. Her views on the world are interesting to read, and she is so honest. I absolutley loved this book, and i did not want it to end...there has to be more. Read this novel, it's excellent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I couldn't put it down. I want more.... What happened next?
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is very very funny and smart, so smart. the character is just so smart but so lost. but along the way you too get hooked into the book and you find yourself like carrie trying new things in life, trying to fit and understand the world and the people around you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has great humor and it also gives you issues to debate with your friends. The main character says a lot of what you might have thought about society but never put into words. She's definitely got some rough edges at first and has room to grow, but I can see a lot of her in the way I was at that age and also the way some people I know still are. Carrie is a genius who is struggling to find her place in a sometimes confusing world, and the characters she meets - Matt the attractive cheater, outgoing Kara, a preacher, a blind date, a couple of other lonely New Yorkers - bring her out and teach her a lot. This is a great book to read, and there's a lot to take away from it. The writing is artful in places too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very intelligent and witty.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Think there is no life beyond SEX AND THE CITY? Meet a different Carrie. At the very end of her teenage years, she has everything one would need to succeed in life. She is smart, she has a degree, she is not unattractive. Basically she is part of a young generation that is blinded by its many choices. But she is also completely unable to function in a social environment; she looks for the negative in everything and everyone and has no ambitions or dreams. Disappointed by all men she has encountered in her life so far, including her father, she prefers to sit at home and sulk. But then her shrink gives her a list of things to do that will change her attitude, and ultimately her life. Although we are prone to not like Carrie for her character, truth be told we all think like her every once in a while, we just don't express it in quite the same way. Lissner has the rare yet great quality to make the reader root for her not-so-friendly main character, and ultimately cheer when we see her succeed. Carrie Pilby is great, the ultimate anti-chick, and aren't we all a bit like her sometimes? Highly recommended read for people who like a coming-of-age novel and who are tired of all the Carrie-Bradshaw-wannabee's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carrie Pilby will say anything. In fact, she is likely to say everything you always wanted to say, but never did. Like why if speed limits never exceed 75 miles per hour, manufacturers make them with speedometers up to 150, or why people panic buy food during snowstorm. Carrie Pilby is just that kind of girl. Caren Lissner has created a masterpiece of inner struggle with modern society, a perpetual inner monologue of doubt and frustration, in a world where people are expected to communicate with each other, often when they have nothing to say. This is no juvenile or young adult novel. This is a sophisticated running commentary of our lives and times, and Lissner, a modern day Oscar Wilde thick with puns, literary allusions and dubious words of wisdom set in a Generation X setting. In this work, Lissner, using Carrie Pilby as a vehicle, takes on all the gripes people grumble about but never do anything about. The novel makes fun of convention while its main character struggles to meet the standards everybody from her father to her psychoanalyst, often taking pot shots at the literary hierarchy, the social pecking order and the taken-for granted conventions along the way. This is an extremely humorous boot, but with that edge or sarcasm and satire that is rarely found in contemporary books, each chapter a kind of 'modest proposal' a modern day Swift might have come up with. Underneath the surface, always stirring behind every joke, pain and confusion lurk, constantly echoing the fundamental questions of life, as to what is expected of us, and how to we meet those expectations. While the book takes us through the struggle of a mid-20s woman, it is also a book about 'everyman' and the Camus-like isolation each of us faces in a more and more complex world and where we are less a part of a singular community. Over the years, I have read numerous books attempting to capture the essence of are prevalence towards loneliness, and indeed struggled to write a few myself, but Lissner has managed to build a character that encompasses that condition, her hero tilting the windmills of our post industrial society, thick with post romantic disillusionment and rich with flat out jocularity. This is a book I'm going to read again, and again after that, making it a permanent place on my bookshelf.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carrie Pilby is odd by her own admission, or perhaps the rest of the world is what is odd. At nineteen, she is a genius, dateless, unemployed, and while not agoraphobic, prefers not to leave her home. At her father's insistence, she sees a psychiatrist weekly, but is getting nowhere. The doctor gives her an assignment. She is to name things she loves, do things on the list, join something, celebrate New Year's, and go on a date. ......... Carrie does her best to follow the assignment. She does join a church, though she suspects it might be a cult, does some things on the list, especially the sleeping part, and places a personal ad to get a date. It is not her fault that all the repliers are unsuitable. Her odyssey to get a date will lead her through several unfortunate meetings, a lesbian encounter, and a promising relationship with a man cheating on his fiance. Carrie learns a lot about herself and about life, and gives the reader her witty commentary in the process. ......... ***** Carrie is someone with whom everyone can identify, at least in part. She is so realistic, it can be scary at times. However, she is someone that you will want for your best friend, once you can get her to leave home to meet you.
harstan More than 1 year ago
At the age of eighteen Carrie Pilby graduated Harvard with a B.A. in philosophy. Now she lives in an apartment in Greenwich Village, but hardly ever goes out except to see her psychologist and has no friends or a job. Her favorite activity is laying in bed and watching a video until she falls asleep. She feels like she doesn¿t fit into society and though she is alone she isn¿t lonely. It¿s hard for a genius to interact with other people so her shrink issues her a series of challenges...................... She gets a temp job proof reading and meets a woman who doesn¿t judge her and genuinely wants to be her friend. She joins a church and interacts with the pastor who not only accepts her, but approves of her strong morality. By the time New Year¿s Eve arrives, Carrie has dated an engaged man, a boring person and a man she genuinely likes. She finally realizes that a person has to give people a chance because the rewards are satisfying............................ In the first half of CARRIE PILBY, the protagonist is a judgmental person who thinks that her intellectual superiority makes her superior to everyone else. In the latter part of this novel Callie realizes that she is using her mental maturity to hide her vulnerabilities and she takes the first step that will lead her into adulthood. The people she meets change her in subtle ways and if one can stick it out, Carrie will grow on you.......................... Harriet Klausner