First Hurt

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From a young writer whose stories have graced the pages of today's most exciting literary journals, comes a masterfully elegant, sexy, and surprising debut. The publication of Rachel Sherman's first book heralds the arrival of a singularly fresh and remarkably assured new voice. In this brilliantly original story collection, she evokes the wonders and horrors of a young woman's life, from girl to teenager to adult, through crushes, sex, family, and the agonies and ecstasies of finding one's way. Sherman's ...

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Overview

From a young writer whose stories have graced the pages of today's most exciting literary journals, comes a masterfully elegant, sexy, and surprising debut. The publication of Rachel Sherman's first book heralds the arrival of a singularly fresh and remarkably assured new voice. In this brilliantly original story collection, she evokes the wonders and horrors of a young woman's life, from girl to teenager to adult, through crushes, sex, family, and the agonies and ecstasies of finding one's way. Sherman's beautifully direct and deceptively simple prose produces accessible, shockingly real narratives that combine a disarming sexual edge with great sensitivity and humor. From a high school girl's crush on her female teacher, to a family's serenity threatened by the presence of a sexy Danish au pair, to a pubescent girl's sexually outrageous soldier pen-pal, all the way to a young couple's horrifying yet life-affirming experience of learning to love their brain-injured newborn twins, this collection wends its way around the deepest of struggles with unusual frankness and wisdom. Fans of A. M. Homes, Mary Gaitskill, Mona Simpson, and Rick Moody will be thrilled at this auspicious and noteworthy debut.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a highly promising debut collection of stories, Sherman writes of alienated lower-end white suburbia in a manner that shifts perspectives with an effortlessness that mitigates her characters' sad stuckness. In the opener, "The Reaper," Beth's assignment for a high school psych class-correspond with a soldier stationed abroad-yields not only the expected ("SEND ME A PICTURE OF YOUR NAKED TITS," he writes, claiming to be possessed by the title figure), but an ending reasserts her fantasies of her future with a starkly intimate tenderness. In the tale that follows, an already bad marriage is pushed to the breaking point by having children (twins with birth or genetic defects-it's deliberately left unsaid), by the hot neighbor girl (with intentionally stereotyped hot black boyfriend) and by other facts of life in a nascent exurb; there, everyone's longings feel as shoddily and provisionally housed as the denizens themselves. By the time one reaches the last story, the weirdly anachronistic, cross-cultural sex-with-spinster tale, "Jewish Hair," one has given up any resistance to Sherman's grotesques and settled all the way in to a very uncomfortable place. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tales of domestic dysfunction fill this debut collection from Sherman, who has a knack for capturing folks at their most fragile. Most of Sherman's stories center on teens and 20-somethings for whom matters of sex and even companionship are brand-new and baffling. If Sherman were a photographer, she'd be a paparazzo exposing people's most desperately concealed flaws. But unlike a cold soul with a zoom lens, the author renders her subjects clearly and empathetically, and her airy, poetic prose is a perfect match for the brittle environments she describes. Sarah, the protagonist in "The Neutered Bulldog," grows increasingly involved in the secret affairs of one of her high-school teachers, one of which is with a student; the story elegantly tracks Sarah's emotional somersaults, from shock to fear to a sort of smirking understanding of how sex shapes her world. But other characters aren't quite lucky enough to reach such moments of revelation. The teenage girl in "The Reaper" can't believe that her soldier pen-pal is more interested in seeing her naked than reading about the great time she had bowling; in "Keeping Time," a young girl becomes an unwitting victim of the neurotic relationship between two of her camp counselors. The mood of the book is downcast, but Sherman's prose never becomes melodramatically glum or tedious. Her melodic style, rife with dream imagery, gives these stories a lift-her deceptively revealing dialogue and direct sentences lay her characters bare but never pummel them. She'll fall into the occasionally cliched archetype or clumsy experiment, as she does in "Homestay," an attempt to describe a Danish au pair's life through supposed notes written by her young charge,but the successes more than outweigh the failures. Careful and poignant, and mercifully short on melodrama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890447410
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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