Make Me Do Things

Overview

In eleven original, surprising and deliciously dark stories, Victoria Redel moves effortlessly between men’s and women’s perspectives in stories that explore marriage, divorce and parenthood. A newly divorced mother stumbles her way back into single life. A young man and his girlfriend clean out his dead mother’s overstuffed home. A woman struggles to hide her affair from a doting husband and inquisitive daughter. A man descends into a drug-fueled dream as he imagines losing his pregnant wife to a historical, ...
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Overview

In eleven original, surprising and deliciously dark stories, Victoria Redel moves effortlessly between men’s and women’s perspectives in stories that explore marriage, divorce and parenthood. A newly divorced mother stumbles her way back into single life. A young man and his girlfriend clean out his dead mother’s overstuffed home. A woman struggles to hide her affair from a doting husband and inquisitive daughter. A man descends into a drug-fueled dream as he imagines losing his pregnant wife to a historical, nineteenth century figure. Redel indelibly captures the ways we love, the ways we yearn and the ways we sabotage each. Throughout the collection, children struggle to make sense of the adult world’s uncertainties as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, find themselves pressed up against their own limits, “the exaltations and treasons of one’s own mothy heart.” Redel has again done what Grace Paley said of Redel’s first collection, “Only a poet could have written this prose. Only a storyteller could keep a reader turning these pages so greedily.”
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/26/2013
Morally ambivalent characters contend with romantic relationships, raising children, and the dark side of human nature in Redel’s (The Border of Truth) second collection of stories. Beginning with “You Look Like You Do,” a divorced mother’s contemplation of sexual fantasies, Redel’s stories examine children, spouses, and parents working through manifestations of their lesser selves. In “Stuff,” a grieving son is reluctant to parse his dead mother’s things; in “On Earth,” a young mother has an affair while her doting husband and daughter remain clueless; in “Ahoy,” a substance-abusing father-to-be emotionally abandons his wife. Often referred to by their station—“the wife,” “the husband,” “the lover”—Redel’s characters appear as reflections of broader archetypes, and succinct, direct language reveals through them the ethical concerns of adulthood: the “private world” of marriage, the “reckless” nature of divorce, the “alternating hilarity and concern” of parenthood. Each story opens a small window onto the unspoken thoughts and desires of the characters: their underbelly of wants and desires and honest opinions. Even those stories absent a moral defector—including “Trust Me,” whose central character accepts a job reading aloud to a blind painter—explore relatively victimless vices like self-absorption, sanctimony, and resentment. Indeed, for all their hapless villainy, Redel’s characters betray her own nuanced understanding of how we, as people, really are. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-01
Eleven stories of love, loss and relationships gone awry. Redel starts with one of her strongest stories, "You Look Like You Do," in which a married couple, Antonio and Marley, fantasizes about including divorcee Sabina in their bed. When they share this fantasy with Sabina, she's in equal measure intrigued and put off. Instead, she has a one-night stand with dance instructor Tomaso before seductively helping Marley with a family crisis. In "Stuff," a man sorts through his late mother's belongings with his girlfriend, trying to decide what's to be tossed and what's a necessary reminder of his mother's existence. He comes across a well-creased (and obviously well-read) letter addressed to "Dear Full-Figured Lady" and signed by a man who was obviously interested in kindling a romance with her two years before she died. "The Third Cycle" introduces us to Polly and Susie, though these are personae created by two women having lunch and flirting with the young waiter. At the table next to them is the "Blue Woman," who's having trouble trying to both eat and take care of her baby at the same time, so Polly and Susie take the baby from her in what seems an act of kindness. "Ahoy," the final story in the collection, is both the longest and the best of Redel's work here. The story self-consciously and brilliantly echoes John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman when Olivia and her husband move to an island. She becomes pregnant but imagines the father to be Capt. Hardwick, a romantic 19th-century sea captain, rather than her egregious, drug-addled husband. Redel writes with wit and with a great understanding of the vagaries of adult relationships.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935536376
  • Publisher: Four Way Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Author of four books of fiction and three poetry collections, VICTORIA REDEL teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in NYC.
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