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Sunday, September 4, 2011

In Progress: Elissa Schappell's 'Blueprints for Building Better Girls'


Another teaser. I'm tearing through Elissa Schappell's BLUEPRINTS FOR BUILDING BETTER GIRLS, which will be published this coming week. It's a collection of short stories that are connected on occasion.

All of the stories have been strong, far stronger than I expected for a book that initially reminded me of Melissa Bank's GIRLS GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING. (I quite liked that book but realize it was a trifle, not a full-bodied stew.)

I've just finished "Aren't You Dead Yet", one of the longer stories. And I'm having trouble drawing a deep breath. This is one of the best stories I've read since The New Yorker originally published Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain".

On the surface level, this story is about a young woman who is taken in by a young man, a would-be serious artist. He's the type who believes the world owes him everything because he is an artist. As a no-longer-young woman, it's so easy to see he's full of it, a user, a poser, and she's excusing him, wanting to believe in his talent.

And then the story just gets deeper. No spoilers, but oh my goodness. I've got only Monday before the pdf file for review goes poof! but I still haven't caught my breath to continue reading. (And, yes, I decided about 100 pages ago that I must buy a hard copy to read again in the years to come.)

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