Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Review: "Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It" by Maile Meloy

There once was a time when I didn't read short stories, much less short story collections, because I didn't want to get invested in characters only to have to give them up fairly quickly when the story ended. Boy, I'm glad I shook myself free of that quirk, otherwise I wouldn't have read a fantastic book like Maile Meloy's Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It. This collection is on both the New York Times' list of the year's notable books as well as Amazon's 100 best list, and as I discovered last year, I can rarely go wrong with their recommendations.

This collection is about relationships of all kinds and the emotions that these relationships uncover and foster. From the opening story, "Travis, B.," which tells of a young ranch hand's desire to open up to a lawyer working as a night school teacher in rural Montana, to the closing story "O Tannenbaum," which highlights marital discord and temptation during the holiday season, Meloy's writing is at times humorous, at times heartbreaking, always memorable and always terrific. All 11 stories hit slightly different notes and provoked different reactions in me, but I also found myself struck by her fantastic use of language.

If you're a short story fan, add this to your reading list, stat. If you're not, I'd recommend you pick this up anyway. You won't be disappointed.

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