A literary novel on marriage, the male gaze, and the subversion of the symbiotic nanny/parent relationship, told in “hammering, scorching, direct, spare prose, where the depiction of an average life . . . is balanced by the peculiarity of all involved.“
LOOK AT US
by T.L. Toma
Bellevue Literary Press, October 2021
Martin, a market analyst, and Lily, a corporate attorney, have a life that many would envy―they share an expensive New York apartment with their twin toddlers, sample the delicacies of Manhattan’s finest restaurants, and take Caribbean vacations. But when the couple’s nanny announces her imminent departure, they panic: how will they ever find a replacement capable of managing their spirited boys? Enter Maeve, a young Irish émigré. Neither of them imagines how indispensable she will become, either to the household or to their marriage. As the family’s domestic bliss takes an unexpected turn, a different type of intimacy evolves, leading to an explosive finale.
With shades of Mary Gaitskill, Toma’s characters behave badly and are keenly observed. Like Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, LOOK AT US explores the symbiotic relationship of the stranger in the home, and there are masterful, tonal shifts here that manifest as knots in your stomach and an internal conflict as to which horse – if any – you’re backing.
A captivating, trenchant portrait of class and sexual dynamics, LOOK AT US reveals just how fragile our social arrangements really are.
T.L. Toma is the author of Border Dance. He studied philosophy at Brown University and Northwestern University, where he received his PhD. He has taught in prisons, migrant labor camps, and adult literacy programs and currently teaches at Laredo College, Palo Alto College, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Terry Toma talks about LOOK AT US: video