Cover Image: Big Swiss

Big Swiss

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Member Reviews

The characters were definitely the strongest part the book . They were both really intriguing and made me want to keep reading just to see what was going to happen to Greta and Big Swiss. I really enjoyed Beagin's style of writing- the way she wrote about Greta's house was so descriptive I could picture it. It was definitely a weird book and the ending was unsatisfying and unresolved, it was in a way that made a lot of sense

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Original, bizarre, laugh-out-loud funny, this book has absorbed me in its color and left me mesmerized by the two main characters' spitting, lovable words and achingly fiery dynamic. I cannot wait to see Jodie Comer portray the ethereal Flavia!

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Thank you so much to Scribner for allowing me this ARC!

The weird girl seems to be a trend in contemporary literature more often. Piggybacking off of the success of books such as Night Bitch and My Year of Rest and Relaxation there has been an uptick in books about unusual female protagonists and Big Swiss is no exception. Greta's obsession with the woman she refers to as "Big Swiss" leads her down some odd avenues (none of which I will spoil). This book is funny and quite the adventure into the psyche of an obsessed woman. However, this niche genre of books about weird women is starting to seem too oversaturated where each book blends into the next. This one, although enjoyable, most likely will not stand the test of time and eventually will blend into my memory with every other I have read making it suitable for a quick fun read, but not stand the test of time.

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CW: suicide, trauma, manipulation, rape

A transcriptionist listens to a session between her employer, a sex therapist, and a new client and becomes instantly drawn to her after hearing that she has survived a very horrific, traumatic experience. It's a small town - and she ends up meeting the woman, whom she name in her head, Big Swiss, at the dog park and begins a relationship with her.

I was instantly pulled in. The story grabs you - the therapy sessions are funny, with our MC asides woven in. We also learn very early on that our MC, Greta, has been through some traumatic experiences herself.

It felt like a tragic play - as the reader you know, somewhere and somehow the curtain's going to fall and the jig is going to be up. Will Greta come clean and disclose the truth? How real are things between them if certain basic things were lies from the start? Or if the relationship was built on deception?

Fundamentally, there are so many open wounds that we try to hide that we'd like to think we can skim past without looking back, without dealing with them.

And so Greta is stuck in a holding pattern - barely moving, bobbing head over water and it seems that Big Swiss is the best part of her life. But what does that say if the best part is a lie?

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I was very excited to read this book and it ended up being Not For Me. I could easily compare it to Melissa Broder's Milk Fed in both tone and structure. I found Beagin's writing sharp and witty, but at times too self aware. There were laugh out loud moments and parts where the secondhand embarrassment made me cringe.

I found Greta difficult to enjoy. She's messy, complex, suicidal, obsessive, repressed - all the makings of a delicious character. However I found myself unable to connect with her. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to be rooting for her or wanting her to fail. The book delves into different trauma responses and the way it affects two different women, but never quite gave me enough of what I wanted.

I found the relationship between Greta and Big Swiss to be deeply unromantic and never understood why Flavia was so obsessed with Great, despite her telling the reader numerous times. The relationship felt flat to me, which might have been the point, but because we only see Flavia through Greta's lens, she often seemed distant and two-dimensional.

All these are not objective criticisms of this book but rather reasons why I did not always enjoy my time with it.

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Some parts oddball, some parts hysterical, many parts graphic sexual. No matter the section, you find yourself racing through the tales and eagerly ingesting more. This was a fun read!

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Big Swiss breaks the confines of society’s expectations. While heavy and dark, the tone of the writing gives it a sense of weightlessness and freedom. The lead characters both carry a burdensome past with them. How they work through it, however, differs incredibly. Although they couldn’t be more opposite, the two women become deeply entangled in the lives of each other. Erotic and amorous, the exploration of trauma peels back layers of the two women, exposing pieces of their identity along the way. Together, they find the freedom to be their true selves without fear of the past. This novel truly dives into the female psyche and the complexity of the human mind.

I enjoyed the push and pull of the characters throughout the book, but was disappointed in the ending. The characters gave themselves to each other almost completely, just for it to be torn away in the last chapter. While these characters may have been created simply as a way to explore their trauma through each other, it still felt like a blow to the chest. Do not go into this book expecting happiness and a love story, it will leave you empty handed.

This novel is made up of hundreds of pages, yet there is one specific one that will infamously stick with me forever. The therapist in the story states, “You know, I’ve seen a rise in borderline personalities in Hudson… The borderlines are at the bars though, not in therapy, thank god” As someone who lives with bpd, this felt like a punch to the gut. Borderline Personality Disorder is already extremely stigmatized. These types of mentions further fuel the misconceptions surrounding it. It feels like no one understands you or is willing to take the time to. Therapists are the people who are supposed to be there to offer help and support, so when the one person (character in this case) says “thank god” about not having to work with you, it feels very isolating. If therapists won’t even try to understand us and support us, who is left? The joke was completely unnecessary to the writing. It had no impact or connection to the plot whatsoever. It was there to once again make fun of us and remind us that we will never have the support of individuals, both personal and professional. While this is just one single line within the hundreds of pages, it is this that I will remember for years to come. Not the plot, not the character development, not the overall quality of writing, but the mockery of people who so desperately need support and understanding.

Big Swiss offers an honest and unique take on life, love, and loss. It is unlike anything I’ve read before. Highly recommend!

Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for sending me an advanced reader copy!

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This book was everything I wanted it to be. It had me turned pages without even realizing. It was so good!

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It's almost shocking how accurate Big Swiss's blurb is: "A brilliantly original and funny novel about a sex therapist’s transcriptionist who falls in love with a client while listening to her sessions. When they accidentally meet in real life, an explosive affair ensues. [...] Bold, outlandish, and filled with irresistible characters, Big Swiss is both a love story and also a deft examination of infidelity, mental health, sexual stereotypes, and more—from an amazingly talented, one-of-a-kind voice in contemporary fiction." It's all of this. Seriously.

I've never read anything like Big Swiss - it's truly original. One's Company by Ashley Huston vaguely comes to mind, but I'd argue One's Company is fully within the absurdist fiction genre whereas Big Swiss is more of a blend with literary fiction. But like One's Company, this book will put the reader in a tough spot. The main character is difficult to empathize with, the story is thinly shrouded in a veil of untreated, debilitating mental illness, and the writing is so wild it feels like an acid trip. But, it's a fascinating story that quietly showcases the complex nature of parasocial relationships, one-sided relationships wherein the pursuer projects their own interpretation of who the target is onto the target, e.x. a citizen infatuated with a celebrity. In other words, it's a conflicting read, but strangely an enjoyable one. While the subject matter is... a lot, Beagin's writing is darkly hilarious, imaginative and attention-grabbing, and it makes for a unique reading experience.

It's a near perfect read for me, it's just a little too passive for my taste. I still really enjoyed it and I'd recommend it to anyone intrigued by the blurb, but with a warning - it will feel off-putting at times, but read it with an open mind.

Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Big Swiss follows Greta, a transcriptionist for a fire breathing, gong-banging sex therapist with a colorful cast of clients dealing with a variety of problems and dilemmas - from affairs with a sister-in law, being stalked by an ex-life coach, to seeing Jason Bateman when stressed. Greta becomes infatuated with one of these clients, Flavia, who she has nicknamed Big Swiss. Greta is drawn to how Flavia approaches her trauma - acknowledging the traumatic event she experienced but holding it at arms length not allowing it to dominate her life or render her a perpetual victim. After recognizing her at the dog park, Greta and Flavia start a friendship, although Greta is concealing her true identity, that quickly leads to an affair.

This is a fantastic novel that explores themes like trauma, assault, and suicide with a cast of compelling and nuanced characters. It’s entertaining and provoking from start to finish and I dreaded every time I had to put it down and was anxious to get back to it! Most of the book deals with trauma through dark humor so it isn’t too heavy of a read, but there are a few really raw scenes that confront assault and suicide starkly.

As a reader, I'm big on character development and whether I can connect with a character is a make it or break it factor for me. Beagin hit it out of the park with the characters she’s created and ensuring that they feel real and multi-dimensional. They are engaging from the first page, layered where as you read you keep peeling back layers of an onion and understanding what makes them tick, and they have quirks that make them feel realistically unique and interesting without crossing into cringy territory. The characters are also messy and I loved every minute of it! They can be blunt, rude, and honest in a way that’s so refreshing!

One of the things I noticed that Beagin did really well is differentiating the dialogue between her characters - this may seem like such a minor thing to point out but it makes such a difference in the reading experience. I really appreciate that because I hate when I’m reading a novel and all the characters talk the same. She did a really good job of establishing a unique voice for each of her characters that embodies their POV.

When it comes to the affair between Greta and Big Swiss, it’s refreshing that Beagin flipped the standard trope in relationships with age gaps where the older partner is the one with their shit together. While Greta is older, Flavia is more established than Greta - she has a career, she lives in a properly functioning house, she’s married, and she’s attempting to address her trauma head on and not allow it to control her life in therapy (albeit she says she’s in therapy because she has never had an orgasm). Whereas Greta, lives in a dilapidated farmhouse with a giant beehive in her kitchen, is unstably employed as a transcription, left her partner of 10 years on a whim, and is so consumed by her trauma but unable to face it in a productive way. They both have their flaws though, Greta, at times, wallows in her trauma and uses it as an excuse for shitty behavior, whereas, Flavia compartmentalizes her’s and can be oblivious about how it can impact others she cares about.

Without posting spoilers, I really enjoyed how the story ended and the place that the readers left the characters. There were climatic events in the last bit of the book that provide the impetus for both characters to grow and transform how their trauma impacts their daily lives and loved ones.

Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for providing an ARC ebook to review! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to buy it once it’s released and add it to my shelves!

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This author's previous book, Vacuum in the Dark, is one of my all time favorites, and I am beyond pleased to report that her new book is even better! She has a gift for pairing disturbing or disgusting situations (in this case, like in her other books, suicide is a main theme--also there are a lot of bugs) with absurd humor. Her characters are hurt, and hurt others, but they are also hilarious. Highly recommended for all libraries.

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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, from Scribner and #NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to preview and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

Looking for something new where you won’t want to put it down? Here ya go!

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4.5 really, I'm being slightly stingy.

This was everything I ever hope an Ottessa Moshfegh novel will be but never is. The strange, the grotesque, and the ridiculous are all here in spades, but it's all done with such a tongue-in-cheek approach and in such good humor that it's impossible not to love it. Big Swiss never takes itself too seriously, nor do its characters (much to their own detriment at times) which makes all the small missteps excusable and even endearing. Beagin has managed to create characters whose quirkiness stops just short of being obnoxious or try-hard, and a story that's so fast-paced and bizarrely fun that it leaves the reader with a sense of exhilaration by the end.

(Real talk: I requested this because I saw Jodie Comer had signed on as Flavia for the HBO adaptation and to say I'm here for THAT is an understatement. After finishing the book, I feel convinced that's pretty solid casting and I've been wracking my brain for who could play Greta. I'm nearly settled on Kate Winslet, but I doubt the gays (of which I am admittedly one) would get so lucky.)

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Incredibly original and I don’t think I’ve read anything like it. I would highly recommend trying it as well because it’s a great unique story!

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Per the request of the publisher, Scribner, my review will be posted to my GoodReads account closer to the book's release date.

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Big Swiss is a strange story about a woman who transcribes sessions for a sex therapist and the client she falls in love with.

This book falls into the category of books that gives us very unlikable women to the point that they are kind of grotesque. There is not much of a plot resolution and the characters don’t do too much growing. I think maybe it’s a little bit outside of the box (lots of box stuff in the book btw) and maybe I don’t totally get it. I did like the fact that the main character is 45 years old because we rarely get that.

If you liked My Year of Rest and Relaxation or Luster, then you might like this one. Good writing, very creative, just not something I connected with.

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