Synopses & Reviews
In these wonderfully funny and poignant stories, Willett's eccentric, complex characters think and do the unconventional. Soft, euphonic women gradually grow old; weak, unhappy men confront love and their own mortality; and abominable children desperately try to grow up with grace. With a unique voice and dry humor, Willett gives us a new insight into human existence, showing us those specific moments in relationships when life suddenly becomes visible.
Critically acclaimed when it was first published in 1987, Jenny and the Jaws of Life is being brought back due to popular demand. It's a timeless collection filled with a certain freshness and wit that ring just as loudly today.
"Willett is a marvelous philosopher and humanist, even when writing about subjects that beg for a knee-jerk reaction....Willett is alive to the absurd in American culture and the tragicomic struggle for dignity that we often lose." Publishers Weekly
"Willett's characters are an odd lot ranging from advice columnist to serial killer but they share a profound loneliness and make for a great, darkly comic collection. Need a second opinion? In the foreword, brilliant humorist (and Esquire contributing editor) David Sedaris writes: 'I am prepared to wear a sandwich board for this book. I can't help myself. It's just too good.'" Elizabeth Einstein, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
"It's just the funniest collection of stories I've ever read--really funny and perfectly sad at the same time."--David Sedaris
"A triumphant collection . . . Willett can provoke whoops of laughter, wonderment, and grim speculation about the brevity of good times for human beings."--Chicago Tribune
"Exquisite . . . A great, darkly comic collection."--Esquire
"Just to be absolutely clear: I'm not recommending this title. I'm telling you: add this item to your basket."--The Guardian (UK)
"Willett is ready to join the select group of short story writers--Joyce Carol Oates and Flannery O'Connor among them--who treat lurid, graphic material with psychological acuity and deadpan wit."--The Providence Journal
"Resonates with understanding."--People
"Exhilarating. Her art has passed through anxiety and come out the other side, completely honest yet purged of the confessional whine or the need to call attention to its bravery."--The Village Voice
"If I could rescue one book, I think it would be Jenny and the Jaws of Life
. . . . It's just the funniest collection of stories I've ever read-really funny and perfectly sad at the same time. There was a story in the book called 'The Best of Betty,' which was written in the form of letters to a household-hints author, and it was just perfection. Perfection." -David Sedaris
"A triumphant collection. . . . From a reader Willett can provoke whoops of laughter, wonderment and grim speculation about the brevity of good times for human beings. There's an admirable toughness to her writing as she encompasses the contradictions and uncontrollability of life. She uses words with devastating preciseness." -Chicago Tribune
"Marvelous. . . The language is tight, the scenes are built like blocks until an unexpected end that Willett works in a kind of gothic 'Gotcha.' She's a master of modern technique. Don't expect your usual short story here." -Winston-Salem Journal
"Willett's fiction presents a cavalcade of accidents and tragedies, of mishaps and maladies and emergencies. What makes the short stories so striking is that Willett handles these catastrophes with such cool, wry wit. Willett is ready to join the select group of short story writers-Joyce Carol Oates and Flannery O'Connor among them-who treat lurid, graphic material with psychological acuity and deadpan wit." -Providence Journal
Critically acclaimed when it was first published in 1987, this timeless collection of stories features eccentric, complex characters who think and do the unconventional.
Jincy Willett is the high priestess of dark comedy. The classic stories in this collection cut through every convention, every idea of normalcy, with empathy and fearless wit, undermining all the old ideas about the happy family, the good son, the dutiful mother. In Willett's world, perversity and tenderness walk hand in hand; there's laughter and funerals, ambivalence in the nursery, and redemption for the wicked. As David Sedaris writes in his foreword, "I'm prepared to wear a sandwich board for this book. I can't help myself. It' just too good."
About the Author
is a writer and editor based in San Diego, CA. Her short stories have appeared in Playgirl, The Yale Review,
and the Massachusetts Review.