Synopses & Reviews
At the center of this startling fiction debut is Leah Levinson, a teen at sea in the anonymous ordeals of a middle-class upbringing on the Upper West Side in the 1970s. In ten installments, written from varying perspectives, we witness her uneasy relationships with faster, looser peers--girls she is drawn to but also alienated by. No one, though, alienates Leah more than her mother, Helen. Estranged yet intertwined, they struggle within the confines of their personalities, unaware of how similar their paths are. Just when they seem at a lonely impasse, each makes an impulsive change--Leah taking a risky trip abroad, Helen renting a secret room in a welfare hotel. Jolted from their old patterns, the two of them independently glimpse the possibility of a more hopeful life. Dylan Landis is a gifted portraitist of unforgettable female characters. is a striking debut.
"Some delicious writing. . . .Buy this for your literary fiction readers and short story fans." Bookforum
"[A] lean, beguiling novel in stories. . . .Elegantly written." Eryn Loeb
"The characters in Dylan Landis's debut story collection, Normal People Don't Live Like This, are blessedly extraordinary." Eryn Loeb Bookforum
"The tales in this bravura work are timeless: They could easily belong to our daughters' generation instead of our own." Elissa Schappell Vanity Fair - "Hot Type"
"Watch [Landis] very carefully. Once you can create characters like Leah (or Angeline, Rainey and Helen), there's no stopping you." More magazine
The stories are about the hidden lives of a teenager and her mother, and how they struggle to negotiate old emotional damages and open themselves to love. The girl, Leah, yearns for belonging and worships the most delinquent girls at school, while her mother, Helen, secretly rents a welfare hotel room that she obsessively decorates. The stories- quirky and darkly humorous- are told from different perspectives. In the end they all serve at least in part to illuminate who Leah is and who she may become, but they're also about the sometimes disturbing, sometimes transformative lives of the girls and women she knows.
"Wonderful! Leah and Helen are authentic, vulnerable characters, whose intimate truths are exposed at perfect, unexpected moments."--Elizabeth Strout
About the Author
Dylan Landis has published stories in Bomb, Tin House, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. A former journalist, she has won a Poets & Writers California Voices Award and other honors for her fiction. She lives in Washington, DC.