A few good short stories in my old New Yorkers by Allegra Goodman (“FAQs”) in a September, 2017 issue and one by Curtis Sittenfeld (“Show Don’t Tell” in a June, 2017 issue, reminded me to download Sittenfeld’s new book of short stories – You Think It, I’ll Say it – a collection of short stories, to Audible. So far the stories are racier than expected, but with quiet deadpan endings that don’t always register with this listener. I have been halfway through the next story before realizing I missed the ending of the former. I could use a gong or a bell to signal the next story starting, but each has a unique and identifiable perspective on the character’s condition – confusion, betrayal, rage, disappointment, regret…
Characters are judgmental, while believing others are secretly judging them. “Gender Studies” is the story of a newly single professor having the “anthropological experience” of a one-night stand with a Trump-supporting working-class bus driver. In “A Regular Couple,” two women meet again years after high school – one the ugly duckling growing into a successful beauty and the other the popular pretty girl turning into a drudge. Both are on their honeymoon. Resentments flair and the final, petty act of revenge horribly satisfying. Sittenfeld’s characters are not very nice but very real.
Susan Dominus in her review for the New York Times says
“In the lives of Sittenfeld’s characters, the lusts and disappointments of youth loom large well into middle age, as insistent as a gang of loud, showy teenagers taking up all the oxygen in the room…The women of “You Think It, I’ll Say It” are, as a group, a demanding breed. They often assume the worst in their imagined adversaries. Sometimes they are wrong, but they are right about just enough (and funny enough) that we forgive them. And, because they know they need absolution for their own worst motives, we forgive those, too.”
Reese Witherspoon has optioned the book for the screen, and Sittenfeld is busy finalizing her next novel, due out in 2019 – she will be imagining how Hillary Clinton’s life might have played out if she had turned down Bill’s marriage proposal and never married him. I can’t wait.
Review of Sisterland