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Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love, and the novels Liars and Saints, shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize, and A Family Daughter. Meloy's stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2007, she was chosen as one of Granta's Best American Novelists under 35. THer short stories were adapted into the 2016 film, Certain Women, starring Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams. She lives in California.
Readers drawn to the short story are sometimes disappointed upon reading a collection by a single author, even one they favor. The collection might seem padded, or the voice that struck us as original and engaging becomes boringly familiar halfway through. No such hazard awaits the readers of this new collection. The award-winning Meloy (Half in Love) continues to deliver stories that please and surprise as each narrative's small world unfolds. As one would expect from its cunning title, taken from a poem by A.R. Ammons, this collection features desire in its many, often contradictory elements, encounters that take a character by surprise but hardly make a ripple in anybody else's world. For example, the young Montana ranch hand in "Travis, B," finds himself smitten by the harried young teacher of an adult education class he happens upon just by following people into the classroom building. It's the act of entering the building that frees him, not the unlikely possibility of romance, and the reader comes to know him just as he begins to know himself. VERDICT Readers who have waited impatiently for Meloy's return to this genre, perhaps the one in which Meloy herself seems most at home, have a treat in store.-Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Meloy (Liars and Saints) hits some high notes in these stories of people juggling conflicting emotions with varying shades of success. In "The Children," a man's resolve to leave his wife for his now-grown children's former swimming instructor is unexpectedly "doomed to ambivalence and desire" when he's confronted by the comforting "habit of his marriage." Marital tensions are also at the heart of "O Tannenbaum," in which a couple, while hunting for a Christmas tree with their daughter, pick up a stranded couple whose bickering casts into relief the cracks in their own relationship. Other pieces focus on loneliness, as in the opening story about a young ranch hand's efforts to connect with a lawyer moonlighting as a night-school teacher, or as in "AgustIn," where an elderly widower yearns for a lost, illicit lover. Meloy's characters frequently leave each other or let each other down, and it is precisely that-their vulnerabilities, failures and flaws-that make them so wonderful to follow as they vacillate between isolation and connection. (July) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"Though it might seem strange to praise a writer for the things she doesn't do, what really sets Meloy apart is her restraint. She is impressively concise, disciplined in length and scope. And she's balanced in her approach to character, neither blinded by love for her creations, nor abusive toward them. . . . She's such a talented and unpredictable writer that I'm officially joining her fan club; whatever she writes next, I'll gladly read it." -Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review "After two well-received novels, Meloy returns to the short story, the form in which she made her notable debut and to which her lucid style is arrestingly well suited. Many of these stories are set in Meloy's native Montana, and all are about domestic distress-about love, mostly, and the trouble stirred up by its often inconvenient insistence. Several are poised in the limbo of adultery, in the time between act and confession. Always true to her wide-ranging though consistently introspective characters, Meloy convincingly depicts the inchoate emotion that drives people, while also distilling meaning from it." -The Atlantic "If life is all about choices, as the saying goes, then what happens when we simply can't make up our minds about what's most important? In her second volume of short stories, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It acclaimed; novelist Maile Meloy (Liars and Saints, A Family Daughter), who first stunned critics in 2002 with her debut story collection, Half in Love, cracks at our nagging desire to have it all (the answers, the romance, the payout, and, in one case, the late grandmother come back to life) in 11 tightly written, remarkably fluid narratives, most of which unfold in sleepy towns across Meloy's native Montana." -Elle From the Hardcover edition.