Synopses & Reviews
Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husbands fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life — stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs — in 1970s California.
Gimlet-eyed and emotionally generous, achingly real and beautifully written, these unforgettable stories lay bare the connection and conflict in families. Shout Her Lovely Name heralds the arrival of a powerful new writer.
"Serber's intense debut collection would have been better had every story, rather than most of them, traced Ruby Hargrove's evolution from daughter to mother, and her own daughter Nora's reactions to her questionable parenting. After an uneven opening story about a mother and her teenager daughter's eating disorder, we come to 'Ruby Jewel,' about a college girl reluctantly having drinks with her philandering, alcoholic father. As the plot progresses, Ruby gets pregnant, tries to make it work with the baby's father, and is finally abandoned when she changes her mind about adoption. So begins Ruby and Nora's life together, a blur of constant moving and a revolving door of men. Serber deftly puts the spotlight on key moments of Nora's upbringing: an adopted stray cat is thrown out for ruining Ruby's things; Nora's tough schoolgirl friends turn to Ruby for help ; Ruby flirts with Nora's older boyfriend. Serber's adroit turns of phrase and the short story format enhance the emotional intensity of familiar scenarios while keeping them from seeming rote, but the form has its pitfalls. An engaging story about a mother comforting an orphaned baby on a plane splits the book down the middle, and another stand-alone story ends it. Despite those stories' clear thematic ties to the collection as a whole, readers will miss Ruby and Nora." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"An impressive debut, with insightful, sometimes painful truths about the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters." Library Journal
"From the very first page, this extraordinary collection of short stories grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. It is filled with poignant, thought-provoking observations on the delicate yet unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters. Serber has given readers a remarkable, heart-felt book to be savored, shared and passed on from one generation to another." Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
"As its title implies, Natalie Serber's collection Shout Her Lovely Name is a triumphant battle cry of hard-won victory over the stalemate and injuries between mothers and daughters. She leaves the reader amazed at the tenacity, tenderness, and truth of her characters." Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone
"Shout Her Lovely Name joins the ranks of the finest books ever to address relations between daughters and their mothers...equal parts love and sandpaper. I ached for these characters and cried at their hard-earned moments of joy. A book to make you marvel that someone really does understand, to make you grateful that she wrote it all down so fiercely, so tenderly." Robin Black, author of If I Loved You I Would Tell You This
"Coming of age is a painful and beautiful experience in Natalie Serber's hands. These are funny and poignant pieces, building a book that feels novelistic in sweep, yet true to the precision and direct aim of the short story. A real pleasure." Antonya Nelson
"In the complexities of family triumphs and catastrophes, Natalie Serber is always achingly specific. Between mothers and daughters, women and their lovers, she misses nothing, and in all her scenes, the reader feels the true breath of life." Charles Baxter
"In the tradition of Lorrie Moore and Tobias Wolff, Natalie Serber's stories uncover the secret hearts of seemingly ordinary people. Funny, heart-felt, and keenly perceptive, this is a book worth shouting about." Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply and Stay Awake
A collection of stories about the complicated and powerful ties between mothers and daughters.
About the Author
Natalie Serber received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Her work has appeared in The Bellingham Review and Gulf Coast, among others, and her awards include the Tobias Wolff Award. She teaches writing at various universities and lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
Table of Contents
Shout Her Lovely Name 1
Ruby Jewel 21
Alone as She Felt All Day 39
Free to a Good Home 57
This Is So Not Me 73
Take Your Daughter to Work 107
A Whole Weekend of My Life 129
Plum Tree 149
Rate My Life 165
Developmental Blah Blah 187