Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Lydia Cooper


My Second Death
Copyright © 2013
by Lydia Cooper
Tyrus Books

In Lydia Cooper's wry and absorbing debut novel, we are introduced to Mickey Brandis, a brilliant twenty-eight-year-old doctoral candidate in medieval literature who is part Lisbeth Salander and part Dexter. She lives in her parents' garage and swears too often, but she never complains about the rain or cold, she rarely eats dead animals, and she hasn't killed a man since she was ten. Her life is dull and predictable but legal, and she intends to keep it that way.
But the careful existence Mickey has created in adulthood is upended when she is mysteriously led to a condemned house where she discovers an exquisitely mutilated corpse. The same surreal afternoon, she is asked by a timid, wall-eyed art student to solve a murder that occurred twenty years earlier. While she gets deeper and deeper into the investigation, she begins to lose hold on her tenuous connection to reality--to her maddening students and graduate thesis advisor; to her stoic parents, who are no longer speaking; to her confused, chameleon-like adolescent brother; and to her older brother, Dave, a zany poet who is growing increasingly erratic and keenly interested in Mickey's investigation.
Driven by an unforgettable voice, and filled with razor-sharp wit and vivid characters, My Second Death is a smart, suspenseful novel and a provocative examination of family, loyalty, the human psyche, and the secrets we keep to save ourselves. — from the publisher

Literature professor Cooper's debut novel is a fast-paced psychological thriller with an unforgettable heroine. This damaged yet fiercely independent protagonist will appeal to fans of Stieg Larsson and Gillian Flynn. — Booklist

Recommended for readers who enjoy mysteries and stories set in academia. — Library Journal

'Mickey' Brandis... finds a ...corpse.... At first, Mickey's suspicions fall on a friend of her older brother... but both she and the reader come to realize that the truth is much more disturbing. Cooper's prose is full of dark beauty... those willing to stare into the recesses of the human psyche will be most rewarded. — Publishers Weekly

Cooper is a nimble architect, deftly combining various raw materials to form a whole all her own. She's fastened a cerebral and gritty text from mystery, noir, comedy, and family tragedy elements. I was amazed at how all these things coexisted and thrived, forming a mesmerizing mosaic. — Joshua Mohr, author of Termite Parade and Damascus

The ingenuity of the novel lies not in plot twists but in the way the binocular vision of the narrative goes in and out of focus whenever Mickey's emotional blind spots come into play. Cooper indulges in the sort of meticulous, highly metaphorical observations typical of much literary fiction.... This is the rare case where that sort of writing seems merited. ... Mickey will never be endearing, but her struggle to understand herself and her world becomes more compelling than the solution to any crime. —

Mickey is a fascinating character. The author's skill lies in making us see past the horrors Mickey conjures for us to catch a glimpse of the vulnerable, damaged soul beneath. I should mention there's some really good humour in there too...and some wonderful use of language. ... A debut that makes me both eager and terrified to see where this author takes me in the future. — Fiction Fan Blog

After...gradually entering Mickey's life and her attempts to behave normally, I found myself invested in Mickey's everyday difficulties. ... It is definitely an intriguing glimpse into a disturbed personality trying to overcome her own deficiencies. — Book Garden blog

I found myself smiling at how carefully it was constructed, how lyrically it was written. It really is a skillfully written book. ... This is definitely one I'd recommend to lovers of thrillers as well as literary fiction, and it's not every day I can recommend one book for both of those genres! — Carabosse's Library blog

No More Heroes: Narrative Perspective
and Morality in Cormac Mccarthy
Copyright © 2011
by Lydia Cooper
Louisiana State University Press

Critics often trace the prevailing mood of despair and purported nihilism in the works of Cormac McCarthy to the striking absence of interior thought in his seemingly amoral characters. In No More Heroes, however, Lydia Cooper reveals that though McCarthy limits inner revelations, he never eliminates them entirely. In certain crucial cases, he endows his characters with ethical decisions and attitudes and demonstrates that a strain of heroism exists in his otherwise violent and apocalyptic world.
Cooper evaluates all of McCarthy's work to date, carefully exploring the range of his narrative techniques. The writer's overwhelmingly distant, omniscient thirdperson narrative rarely shifts to a more limited voice. When it does deviate, however, revelations of his characters' consciousness unmistakably exhibit moral awareness and ethical behavior. The quiet, internal struggles of moral men such as John Grady Cole in the Border Trilogy and the father in The Road demonstrate an imperfect but very human heroism.
Even when the writing moves into the minds of immoral characters, McCarthy draws attention to the characters' humanity, forcing the perceptive reader to identify with even the most despicable representatives of the human race. Cooper shows that this rare yet powerful recognition of commonality and the internal yearnings for community and a commitment to justice or compassion undeniably exist in McCarthy's work.
No More Heroes directly addresses the essential question about McCarthy's brutal and morally ambiguous universe and reveals poignant new answers. — from the publisher

redball.gif Bibliography
redball.gif Selection
redball.gif Buy a Book
redball.gif Lydia Cooper's Page
redball.gif Writers On-Line

The Rock

Nebraska Center for Writers