Synopses & Reviews
An explosive story collection from a bold, blistering new voice.
With broken language, deep vernacular, unexpectedly fierce empathy, and a pace that'll break your granny's neck, Lindsay Hunter lures, cajoles, and wrenches readers into the wild world of Don't Kiss Me.
Here you'll meet Peggy Paula, who works the late shift at Perkins and envies the popular girls who come in to eat french fries and brag about how far they let the boys get with them. You'll meet a woman in her mid-thirties pining for her mean-spirited, abusive boyfriend, Del, a nine-year-old who is in no way her actual boyfriend. And just try to resist the noir story of a reluctant, Afrin-addled detective.
Self-loathing, self-loving, and otherwise trapped by their own dumb selves, these characters make one cringe-worthy mistake after another. But for each bone-headed move, Hunter delivers a surprising moment that chokes you up as you peer into what seemed like deep emptiness and discover a profound longing for human understanding. It's the collision of these moments that make this a powerful, alive book.
The stories of Don't Kiss Me are united by Hunter's singular voice and unflinching eye. By turns crass and tender, heartbreaking and devastatingly funny, her stories expose a world full of characters seemingly driven by desperation, but in the end, they're the ones who get the last laugh. Hunter is at the forefront of the boldest, most provocative writers working now.
"The characters in this blazing, lurid collection of flash fiction are grotesqueries: beady-eyed and globular, Cheetos dust on their fingers, hearts either numb or mean. Many of them speak in a similar voice: flat, uneducated, talking in a breathless run-on about the stomach-turning, the tragic, the objectionable without seeming very impressed by any of it. These pieces offer a brief, searing glimpse into a series of marginal, odd lives: a woman inexplicably in love with a snot-nosed nine-year-old ('My Boyfriend Del'); another who becomes a cat-hoarder after a romantic disappointment ('You and Your Cats'); a dystopian RV cult ('RV People'); a postapocalyptic family ('After'). These vignettes are wholly original and strange, though their number (over 20) makes them blend together in a blur of dysfunction and gross-out detail. There are standouts, though, like 'Brenda's Kid,' whose eponymous mother tries not to hate her worthless son; 'A Girl,' offering a teenage boy's jaded perspective on his missing classmate; and the family of 'Like,' seen from each of their perspectives at a passive-aggressive picnic. Overall these stories land with a wet slap messy and confrontational. They demand your horrified attention, and they reward it with exaggerated and irresistible humanity. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July 2)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Hunter's stories feel incredibly urgent. Hunter is such a talented writer that she makes the unimaginably unpleasant seem natural, and terrifyingly so....Those who've read Hunter's excellent debut, Daddy's, wont be surprised by her feats. If that collection announced a formidable and refreshing prose stylist, Don't Kiss Me cements that reputation.” The Boston Globe
“Don't Kiss Me, Hunter's second short story collection, is a bold, haunting, and beautiful observation of lives lived outside the scope of the mainstream....Hunter near-effortlessly captures the hopes, fears, realizations, regrets, and desires of the uglier, more taboo, and misunderstood side of humanity. Though their worlds may be sordid, Hunter manages to infuse her misfits with incredible amounts of empathy and humor. Instead of repulsed, we often find ourselves rooting from the sidelines. And its hard not to voraciously ingest all 26 stories in Don't Kiss Me, given their breakneck pace, raw emotion, and Hunter's own propensity for language that pops but never fizzles....[Don't Kiss Me] is transgressive without being navel-gazing, confrontational without being aggressive. But above all, it contains a whole lot of Hunter's bloody, beating heart.” Kirkus
“These 26 stories, deeply internalized in neurotic lyricism, are hilarious and fully realized portraits of the disavowed....And in the uproarious title story, a woman obsesses over a female coworker she envies and despises. Miranda July and George Saunders come to mind, but Hunters crass yet tender characters are unprecedented, relating fart jokes and impossible sentiment in stylized prose that mirrors their threadbare souls and ineffectual optimism.” Booklist
"Don't Kiss Me," by Lindsay Hunter from Farrar, Straus and Giroux on Vimeo.
About the Author
Lindsay Hunter is the author of the story collection Daddy's. She lives in Chicago, where she is the cofounder and cohost of the flash-fiction reading series Quickies!.