[The stories] were all about men, mostly in their late twenties or early thirties, mostly with an aspiration that they'd given up because of a marriage or a dead relative or a fear about not being good enough: the singer-songwriter who performs as a cowboy-clown at children's birthday parties and finds himself doing a gig at the house of his high school girlfriend; the minor-league baseball player forced to decide between new love and an unexpected ascension to the majors. There was a sweetness and earnestness to the stories that Juliet had at first found winning. The men were smart and self-effacing, the details about domestic routines spot-on, the characters' neuroses believable and exaggerated ever so slightly for comic effect. But Juliet also noticed in that third read that the women of the book were all blandly noble and long-suffering, and while the man-child narrator worked through his feelings of inadequacy, making such frequent comment about his failings that you couldn't help but think extremely well of him, to believe him enlightened, his girl stood by, full of spunky good sense and patience, never angry, never granted the luxury to be small or selfish. The clown story, "On the Redemption of Roy Rogers," ended with the narrator, still in grease paint, giving his high school girlfriend a long, tender kiss while her husband and the children at the party are outside taking pony rides (and of course there had already been a comically gloomy contemplation of the pony's being a gelding). "I kissed her," the last line went, "reclaimed her, while outside her husband and the pony walked a slow and never-ending circle, no sunset in sight."


"You want to tell me something about my book, I suppose. Well, enlighten me, Miss New York Press."
"That's Mrs. New York Press," Juliet said. "To you."
"Mrs., then. Enlighten me."
"If they were to make movies out of your stories, John Cusack would play the lead in every one of them."

(holly goddard jones, "the right way to end a story,"* tin house #52)
tin house's summer reading issue also boasts "annie duels the sun," a boss angie wang cover (wang's work frequently features heroic gals; "despite being stalked, bombed, or forced into submission, these young women persevere. if they're not already in escape mode or recovery, they are ready to unleash their power"), and an impressively plausible celebration of cooking with friends, a middlebrow, tv-themed collection of recipes developed on the down-low by jack bishop (who helped launch cook's illustrated and set the tasting protocols for america's test kitchen). i just ordered it as a bonus gift for the wedding we're attending next weekend.

*(that excerpt is not the end of the story.)

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