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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Women in Bed: Nine Stories by Jessica Keener

Title: Women in Bed: Nine Stories
Author: Jessica Keener
Format: Paperback
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publish Date: October 1, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like short stories.
What's the Story?:

From "Jessica Keener returns with this collection of nine stories that thematically address variations of love, love of self, family, and sexual relationships from loneliness and isolation, desperation and rejection,  to need and passion, forgiveness and, finally, to love found.

"Secrets” follows a young woman that gets involved with a female friend who pushes her boundaries around sex, love, and intimacy.

In "Papier Mache,” a college student who loses brother to suicide is grieving and gets entangled with a professor who is a critic and over-intellectualizes everything. The student challenges the professor and vice versa in a strange power dance with emotional fallout.

"Boarders” tells the story of a young college student who drops out to be with her narcissistic lover. She lives in grim boarding house with desolate, lonely men until she realizes that she must flee to find something better, healthier, more nurturing and loving.

"Woman with Birds in her Chest” involves a woman who leaves her social worker job and realizes she has never truly nurtured herself. Her ensuing breakdown puts her loving marriage to the test.

"Recovery” tells of a young woman in a hospital room who witnesses death, escapes her own, and comes to terms with life’s uncertainties and the unexpected power of sibling love.

In "Shoreline,” a woman leaves her husband, goes to a cottage on the beach, and has a flirtation with a client. She soon discovers that she must end her marriage before she can move on to find a new love.

In "Bird of Grief,” a grad student recovering from a broken relationship projects her anger and grief onto a new man, eventually coming to terms with letting go.

"Forgiveness” is a spare, stark story of two sisters, family violence, and the quest for forgiveness.

In "Heart,” a woman meets her lover in a Paris hotel room and goes through a cycle of anxiety, worry, and the expectation that things will not work out, only to be surprised by the goodness that emerges.

My Two Cents:

"Women in Bed" is a new collection of short stories by Jessica Keener, author of "Night Swim." Short stories are not my usual fare and they are still fairly new territory to me but because I really enjoyed Keener's writing in "Night Swim," I thought that I would enjoy this book because of that and I was right!

Again, the star of this book is Keener's writing. She really had a tall order in creating really memorable characters in such a small amount of space. I love what she was able to do with some of the characters; some of them feel like people that you have known or could know in the future.

There were definitely some stories that I really liked more than some of the others. "Forgiveness," which a story about families and a sister relationship specifically. Keener wrote this story in a very stark manner and it is hard to describe but it almost made the story feel more powerful. I also really liked the story, "Boarders."

Most of these stories are not happy stories but they definitely make you think about some of the more difficult issues that we have to face or may have seen others have to face. Overall, this was a good collection of stories!


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  2. Sounds like an interesting collection! I'm not generally a short stories reader, either, but I like to push myself outside my comfort zone occasionally. Will keep an eye out for this one!

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