Synopses & Reviews
The stories in Beth Ann Bauman's debut collection explore the secret lives of girls and women. The characters who inhabit Beautiful Girls are the timid, the not-quite-fabulous, the public school Ophelias, who yearn for something grander than their current lot. In "True, " an exquisitely shy teenager tries to fathom the hidden secrets of beauty from a boy who's "the prettiest person in the entire school." A lonely divorcee in "Safeway" wanders the darkened aisles of a grocery store during a power outage and becomes "certain a touch of rot had taken root in her heart...and that she still might live better." In "Wildlife of America, " a jilted New Yorker flees to the safety and comfort of the suburbs only to find that the wilds of New Jersey are the same as anyplace else. A hapless young woman loses her laundry in "Wash, Rinse, Spin" and must resort to the decrepit wardrobe she wore while working in B movies, as her dying father fades in her hometown. And in the title story, friendship and sisterhood are challenged as voracious girls who long for love and admiration participate in a town pageant. Told with irresistible humor and a cockeyed economy, these stories illuminate the search for love, friendship, connection, and identity. I live in a studio apartment in Manhattan on a very busy street. Sirens, car alarms, horns, squealing brakes, shouting, and laughter have been background to almost all the stories in Beautiful Girls. Over the years I've gotten pretty good at closing off this world and its noises and entering the worlds of my stories. Lately, though, I've begun to consider my various writing practices. I like to write in my pajamas, for example, which can be a liability when I'mworking on the couch and wind up napping. I also wonder about the direction I'm facing when writing and if this has any effect on the work in a feng shui kind of way. What I've concluded is that some of the more lyrical passages have been written at my writing table facing u
"Judging from its title and cover, some people might mistake this for "chick-lit," that genteel, emotionally manipulative ghetto of contemporary literature practiced by women trying to capitalize on the popularity of Ya-Ya Sisterhoods and Bridget Jones diet plans. But Beth Ann Bauman's debut collection of stories has the bite of A. M. Homes and the intelligent tact of Grace Paley. In other words, guys will like Bauman's stories, too, maybe more than some females....Her voice is cool, her tone is smart, and her storytelling vibrates on the page like the real thing." Kevin Sampsell, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
"Astringent and frequently moving, these stories are seductive showcases for a strong new voice." Publishers Weekly
"Eight debut tales that have emerged from a wacky modern world. Bauman's stories catch the frail wave of pop culture but ride it smoothly, not relying on its zaniness to bring interest to her characters....Promising vision and a powerful start." Kirkus Reviews
"Beautiful Girls is a knockout! Anyone whos interested in the secret lives of beautiful and not-so-beautiful girls, and those who know them, will love this book. I couldnt put it down until Id finished it, and then I started all over again. Beth Ann Bauman is a new favorite!" Alice Elliot Dark, author of In the Gloaming
is a dazzling debut collection about the secret lives of girls and women. The characters who inhabit Beth Ann Bauman's stories are the timid, the not-quite-fabulous, the public school Ophelias, who yearn for something grander than their current lot. Told with irresistible humor and remarkable grace, these stories illuminate the search for love, friendship, connection, and identity.
In "True," an exquisitely shy teenage girl tries to fathom the hidden secrets of beauty from a boy who's "the prettiest person in the entire school." A lonely divorcée in "Safeway," wanders the darkened aisles of a grocery store during a power outage, and becomes "certain a touch of rot had taken root in her heart...and that she still might live better." In "Wash, Rinse, Spin," a hapless young woman loses her laundry and must resort to the decrepit wardrobe she wore while working in B movies, as her dying father fades in her hometown. And in the title story, voracious girls who long for love and admiration compete in a town pageant.
From the fierce bonds among sisters, to the discoveries of a girl who roams her neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, to the allure of a tropical paradise where anything feels possible, Beautiful Girls explores what it means to be a woman in the modern world, looking for a place to call home.
At once magical, tender, and wise, this book establishes Beth Ann Bauman as a bold new literary voice.
About the Author
Beth Ann Bauman holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona, and her short stories have appeared in several literary journals. She lives in New York City. Beautiful Girls is her first book.
Table of Contents
The Middle of the Night 1
Wash, Rinse, Spin 21
Beautiful Girls 47
Wildlife of America 157