Friday, February 6, 2015

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny

 Print Length: 242 pages 
Publisher: Knopf (February 3, 2015)

What They Say....A tender and ruefully funny look at varieties of love, secrets, and betrayal in ten exquisite stories that form a guided tour of the human heart.

In the title story, we meet Maya, who is torn between her wryly funny boyfriend and the allure of her veterinarian. In "Andorra," a woman's lover calls her every Thursday as he drives to meet his wife at marriage counseling. "How to Give the Wrong Impression" shows us a woman pining for her roommate, a man who will hold her hand but then tell her that her palm is sweaty. In "The Dive Bar" a girl agrees to have a drink with her married lover's wife. Revisiting Maya in several stories, chronicling her various states of love, this is a collection about how we are unfaithful to each other, both willfully and unwittingly.

Populated with unwelcome house guests, disastrous birthday parties, needy but loyal friends, and flirtatious older men, the stories are emotionally astute, sexy, and disarming-and they introduce us to a tart, and marvelous, new voice.

What I Say....Okay, I will be perfectly honest.  I am not a fan of short stories.  But the cover and the title of this book drew me in on NetGalley's website.  Who wouldn't want their life to be Single, Carefree and Mellow, swimming with a happy smile on their face?

So I took a chance and requested a book that I would normally pass on.  This was one of those times where the risk paid off.  I really enjoyed this collection of stories of ordinary women living their ordinary lives.

The third person narrative in these stories was a very powerful voice for these women.  One of the stories I really enjoyed was Maya's.  She made three appearances throughout the book, first as she puts her dog to sleep, then as she has an affair with her boss, then as she is pregnant with her first child.  I think that what struck me with Maya's story is that you are always waiting for the plot twist, the arc in the story, but it never really comes.  That isn't to say it is any less interesting, because just watching the inner working of Maya's mind makes an interesting story.

I kept thinking of Thoreau's quote, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."  None of the women in this book were leading lives of desperation.  Lives of selfishness maybe, thoughtlessness definitely, but the men were the more clueless characters in most of the stories.

I liked this book so much, it may have changed my mind about short stories, so thank you, Katherine Heiny!

Current Goodreads Rating 3.72

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