Synopses & Reviews
In this dazzling literary debut, Rebecca Curtis displays the gifts that make her one of the most talented writers of her generation. Her characters young women struggling to find happiness, love, success, security, and adventure wait tables, run away from home, fall for married men, betray their friends, and find themselves betrayed as well.
In "Hungry Self," a young waitress descends into the basement of a seemingly ordinary Chinese restaurant; in "Twenty Grand," a young wife tries to recover her lost fortune; in "Monsters," one family's paranoia leads to a sacrifice; and in "The Witches," an innocent swim on prom night proves more dangerous than anyone could have imagined. With elegant prose and a wicked sense of humor, these stories reveal Curtis's provocative and uncompromising view of life, one that makes her writing so poignant and irresistible.
"Mostly female loners, outsiders and have-nots populate this marvelous, bleak debut collection. A young woman extracts herself from an overly insistent blind date who violates her privacy in "Big Bear, California," only to find her usual certainty shaken years later by the memory of his grasping, petulant behavior. In "Summer, with Twins," a college-age woman waitressing during the break wavers in declining her greasy boss's indecent proposal, perpetuating a crisis of self-worth that reverberates through her tenuous summer friendships. Among the 13 pieces, surreal vignettes serve as a taut, dramatic counterpart to the more straightforward narratives: "The Wolf at the Door" in particular has a being-chased-in-your-dreams feel of danger and terror, as a woman battles to keep an anthropomorphic wolf from entering her house, until he asks her to open the door and her sister insists that she do so, saying, "it's polite!" Delving into extremes of monotonous oppression, Curtis describes a reality that must be endured: her characters cling fiercely to their rationalizations, but even the more avaricious are sympathetic. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If Curtis's surreal stories are hardly more than sketches, the realistic ones are complex and bracing and ambitious, and perhaps most impressive, they are all these things without ever showing off." Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times
"While Curtis' stories are far from uplifting, the writing soars." San Francisco Chronicle
"These stories fall into an unfortunate subgenre of current speculative fiction in which a wacky concept and ironic execution take the place of real storytelling." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Rebecca Curtis's writing has appeared in The New Yorker, including its debut fiction issue, as well as in Harper's, McSweeney's, and n+1. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and her work has been selected for The O. Henry Prize Stories. She teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University.