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Friday, May 15, 2015

Single, Carefree, Mellow: Stories

When the hot new book of the week is released, I usually have to pick it up, and Katherine Heiny's book of stories, Single, Carefree, Mellow did not disappoint.

11 stories about about women who love, lose, cheat, hurt, and just simply live their lives. Maya anchors the collection, a woman in love with her boss and her boyfriend both. Sasha commits to a drink with her boyfriend's wife, only to realize what a bad idea that really is. Gwen is in love with her roommate, but does he or doesn't he love her back? Josie's lover has found a new one -- on Twitter. Nina is sleeping with her running buddy while hosting the local minister in her garage apartment. Lives are messy in the real world.

These women all make up the strong, lovely, flawed, and honest characters of this incredible story collection. I mean, I heard it was good, then I read it and absolutely fell in love with Heiny's ability to tell a short story with sparkling sentences that lay out the absurdity of her characters while still making them entirely real and easy to relate to. I can't say that I have ever been in the position any of these women have been in, but I do know what it is like to be a young woman (I'm still young, damn it) dating and having feelings about gentleman callers and wanting to be seen as sexy and yearning and caring. This is exactly what this collection captures: the feelings and the feels and the complexities of being a human being living a life that is not a linear and logical path.

It is the through line of Maya that was particularly extraordinary. She is a young woman who is in love with her boss and wants to break up with her boyfriend, but not necessarily in that order. She more yearns for her boss because she wants to break up with her boyfriend. However, in the stories that follow, and I can't tell you what happens because it spoils the exact reaction I believe Heiny wants out of you, she becomes someone I cheered for even as she was making bad decisions. I loved her boyfriend and his family, and I just got who they were. Those we love tend to bring out both the best and the worst in us, and we in turn see the best and the worst in them. When we get into relationships, we choose the other person's family for better or for worse. Maya stays with her boyfriend in part out of comfortable love for him, but also out of longing for the love of his mother and the annoyance of his sister.

This collection was just marvelous, and I could not recommend it more. It is a shining star in the world of short stories, and you would be remiss in not adding it to your summer reading queue.  

For purchase below. 

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