Synopses & Reviews
A woman sewing a dress for her anniversary night out finds herself presiding over her young daughters as they cut apart their own clothes. A four-year-old boy going earnestly about the business of being a four-year-old boy is perplexed as to why his behavior seems to have dramatic effects on his mother. An elementary school volunteer learns about a role-playing card game from a young boy, and then sees the roles play out in her own home.
College friends and couples reunite for a drink, and find that although their campus couplings are in the past, their sexual competitions are still very much present.
Over the course of these nine stories, Mary Rechner brings a frank, humorous, and ultimately illuminating narrative voice to the subjects of sex, marriage, family, and work. Her characters strain against expected behaviors and received opinions about emotional life: a grieving woman considers pursuing her dead lover's twin, a master gardener envies the freedom of her widowed friend, a poet considers which of her pieces will work best when read in a strip club, and a patient in the dentist's chair finds her appointment her best chance to reflect on her otherwise hectic life.
Nominated for awards and the recipient of fellowships from organizations on both sides of the country, Mary Rechner's prose leavens moments of despair with moments of humor, and recognizes the knotted relationship between pleasure and pain. The patient, uncompromising work of a writer who has carefully observed the moments of possibility and peril that appear — and that we often deliberately seek — in the journey from youth to adulthood, Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women is a debut collection that signals the arrival of a significant new voice in contemporary fiction.
"Mary Rechner's astounding, perfectly wrought stories of what it means to be a modern woman are witty, provocative, and honest enough to make you gasp. She's the Mary Gaitskill of motherhood." Karen Karbo, author of The Gospel Accroding to Coco Chanel
"Rechner writes with...the full-hearted knowledge that to love means to be besieged, to love means to suffer, but that, in the end, to love is the only way to truly be alive." Debra Gwartney, author of Live through This
"Funny, bold, and somewhat rueful, Rechner is a plucky, mischievous writer." Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall
About the Author
Mary Rechner's fiction has appeared in publications including Kenyon Review, Washington Square, Propeller Quarterly, and Oregon Literary Review. Her criticism and essays have appeared in the Believer and the Oregonian. Mary Rechner grew up on Long Island, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.