Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

33844793Title: Fresh Complaint

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

Pub Date:  October 2017

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The first collection of short fiction from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides’s bestselling novels have shown that he is an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, sexual identity, self-discovery, family love, and what it means to be an American in our times. The stories in Fresh Complaint continue that tradition. Ranging from the reproductive antics of ‘Baster’ to the wry, moving account of a young traveler’s search for enlightenment in ‘Air Mail’ (selected by Annie Proulx for The Best American Short Stories, 1997), this collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national crises. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art collapse under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in ‘Bronze,’ a sexually confused college freshman whose encounter with a stranger on a train leads to a revelation about his past and his future. Narratively compelling, beautifully written, and packed with a density of ideas that belie their fluid grace, Fresh Complaint proves Eugenides to be a master of the short form as well as the long.

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Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Title: Difficult Women

Author: Roxane Gay

Pub Date: January 3rd, 2017

My Rating: ★★★★☆

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Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection.

The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister’s marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.

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Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

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Title: Summer Blonde

Author: Adrian Tomine

Pub Date: June 2003

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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I am glad that I didn’t review this book immediately after finishing it, as I usually do. I had time to think and process this book and stories presented within its pages. Summer Blonde is a collection of four short stories presented as comics. The stories are very subtle and follow certain kind of people – people that are sad, depressed, people that struggle with finding sense in life. Reading the stories gives you a voyeuristic feel. You feel like the shadow on the cover that is following someone. You are looking at someone else’s life at their most vulnerable, and you either want to help them and find closure for them, or you want to turn your head. But you cannot do either. You get to see parts of their lives, and then the story is abruptly finished. You don’t know what happens next. At first, it was very frustrating for me, but later, thinking about the stories I get this, I am willing to forgive the author for not giving the stories an ending, because I see why he did that.

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Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman

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Title: Hot Little Hands

Author: Abigail Ulman

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2016

Rating:  ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


I did not enjoy that book. From around 20 percent in, I was just debating whether I should drop it or try to finish it. Eventually, I endured, and I read the whole book.

I enjoy short stories, but stories in this book didn’t have any power or message that was captivating. For some time I had an impression that the book was written by someone who’s English is not the first language. This is not necessarily a bad thing; English is not the first language for me. But in the book this impression I got means that the wording and the language were just lacking something, some ease of the text or the way sentences are built.

I was frustrated at the end of every single story. I would like them to finish with some message or leave me filled with emotions, or make me wonder about the story. Stories in the book were ending flat. That’s all I can say about them; they were flat.