Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It - Maile Meloy

One of the New York Times Book Review Best Books of 2009, Maile Meloy's collection of short stories Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, is so full of adultery that one might think it belongs to a different generation.  It would be easy to believe that each of these stories was written in the 1970s. Broken families, naked adults in hot tubs, it's all here.

Subject matter aside, these are good stories, adequate in the story telling, creative in their invention, the variety of situations. Where they fail for me is in the amount of exposition.  So much here requires or is given explanation, separating the reader from the story, from our own discovery, that I wanted to take a pen to the book and strike whole paragraphs.

It may very well be that I am sensitive to this issue, conscious to try and avoid the same thing in my own writing. It may be as well that I favor the stripped-down storytelling of Raymond Carver. I am willing to forgive a lot in a novel, but in a short story I don't expect to be removed from the action to be offered an explanation of something that could be made apparent within the story itself.

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