Girl Trouble

( 4 )

Overview

In Girl Trouble, acclaimed writer Holly Goddard Jones examines small-town Southerners aching to be good, even as they live in doubt about what goodness is.

A high school basketball coach learns that his star player is pregnant—with his child. A lonely woman refIects on her failed marriage and the single act of violence, years buried, that brought about its destruction. In these eight beautifully written, achingly poignant, and occasionally heartbreaking stories, the fine line ...

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Girl Trouble

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Overview

In Girl Trouble, acclaimed writer Holly Goddard Jones examines small-town Southerners aching to be good, even as they live in doubt about what goodness is.

A high school basketball coach learns that his star player is pregnant—with his child. A lonely woman refIects on her failed marriage and the single act of violence, years buried, that brought about its destruction. In these eight beautifully written, achingly poignant, and occasionally heartbreaking stories, the fine line between right and wrong, good and bad, love and violence is walked over and over again.

In "Good Girl," a depressed widower is forced to decide between the love of a good woman and the love of his own deeply flawed son. In another part of town and another time, thirteen-year-old Ellen, the central figure of "Theory of Realty," is discovering the menaces of being "at that age": too old for the dolls of her girlhood, too young to understand the weaknesses of the adults who surround her. The linked stories "Parts" and "Proof of God" offer distinct but equally correct versions of a brutal crime—one from the perspective of the victim's mother, one from the killer's.

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Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
"Jones’ sparkling debut collection zeroes in on lonely searching souls making do in a quiet Kentucky town."
Claire Messud
“Holly Goddard Jones is blessed with wisdom beyond her years, a gimlet eye, and an enviable literary talent; her debut collection, GIRL TROUBLE, is a fierce and exhilarating achievement.”
Joshua Ferris
“No politician should ever again use the phrase ‘The American People’ without reading this book, preferably twice, so that they understand at last just who the hell they’re talking about. Holly Goddard Jones has a voice as expansive, complex, and beautiful as the country itself.”
Edward P. Jones
“A grand debut of a writer who is assured, sensitive, and wonderfully skillful. . . . A marvelous work of heartbreaking wisdom.”
George Pelecanos
“GIRL TROUBLE is a powerful, resonant short story collection from the uniquely talented Holly Goddard Jones.”
People
“Jones’ sparkling debut collection zeroes in on lonely searching souls making do in a quiet Kentucky town.”
Las Vegas Weekly
“The stories from Girl Trouble are poignant and approachable-ripe for any audience. The human touch and prairie isolation of her characters are pitch-perfect. . . . Sharply intellectual. With a debut as striking as Girl Trouble, Jones could very well join the tradition of America’s great Southern writers.”
The Nashville Scene
Girl Trouble resonates with black-coal sorrow and dark truths found in [Jones’s] native state’s darkest hollers. . . . Nothing is contrived; every story is steeped in reality, and clarity comes with a price.”
The News & Observer
“Powerful . . . Strong, subtly nuanced.”
New York Press
“Poignant and approachable-ripe for any audience. The human touch and prairie isolation of her characters are pitch perfect. . . . Jones’ prose is also sharply intellectual. With a debut as striking as Girl Trouble, Jones could very well join the tradition of America’s great Southern writers.”
Booklist
“This masterful debut dramatizes the fortitude of small-town southerners confronting situations gone terribly wrong and the shadowed boundaries of love, morality, and violence. . . . Jones’ seemingly effortless style makes the eight tales quietly powerful and achingly human.”
Chicago Tribune
“Gritty, eloquent dispatches from the heartland. . . . Jones’ hauntingly accomplished language lifts the mundane to the level of profound tragedy.”
People
“Jones’ sparkling debut collection zeroes in on lonely searching souls making do in a quiet Kentucky town.”
Oxford American
“Jones exposes a world that is darkly seductive.”
Publishers Weekly

The eight stories in this debut collection maintain a sense of isolation and loss while depicting and dissecting the lives of drifting characters making questionable decisions in a quiet Kentucky town. In the title piece, a father is faced with a moral quandary when his 19-year-old son is accused of raping a local teenager. The others follow similar themes of emotional voids and gaps in trust. In "Upright Man," a college-bound town kid, Matt, befriends "large and muscular and handsome" country-boy Robbie while doing manual labor the summer after graduation. Though Robbie helps Matt get his first girlfriend, Matt secretly desires Robbie's girl and discovers how easily betrayal overcomes good intentions. The strongest entries are "Parts" and "Proof of God," opposite sides of the same tale, narrated in turn by the mother who loses her daughter in a horrific crime, and the college classmate who killed her. Throughout each, the fallible characters are handled with delicate honesty. Though the setting tends to feel repetitive, Jones writes with grace and ease, the selections adding up to a powerful sum of reflection, loss and regret. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061776304
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 673,547
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Holly Goddard Jones's stories have appeared in New Stories from the South, Best American Mystery Stories, and various literary journals. She is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the winner of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This eight story collection "answers" the Beatles question in Eleanor Rigby: "Where do all the lonely people go?"; they go to Roma Kentucky

    This eight story collection "answers" the Beatles question in Eleanor Rigby: "Where do all the lonely people go?"; they go to Roma Kentucky. Each tale focuses on a person(s) who has personal moral issues relating to others that bring their own ethics into question like the father of a son accused of rape (title tale) or married with a newborn basketball coach's star pregnant with his child ("Life Expectancy"). The entries are quite good, but the locale can feel repetitive as it limits the environment; as such this reviewer suggests reading GIRL TROUBLE over a couple of weeks. The best short stories especially worth reading together are the insightful duality entries of "Parts" and "Proof of God"; the same incident the vicious murder of a young girl is told by her mother and her killer. The townsfolk make Holly Goddard Jones's compilation worth a visit to Kentucky.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted October 23, 2009

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