Other People We Married

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Overview

A rising literary star debuts with twelve wry, poignant stories of love, hope, and transformation. In 'Some People Must Really Fall In Love,' an assistant professor takes halting steps into the awkward, adult world of office politics and blind dates while harboring feelings for one of her freshman students. Two grown sisters struggle with old assumptions about each other as they stumble to build a new relationship in 'A Map of Modern Palm Springs.' Rome is the setting of 'Puttanesca,' as two young widows move ...

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Other People We Married

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Overview

A rising literary star debuts with twelve wry, poignant stories of love, hope, and transformation. In 'Some People Must Really Fall In Love,' an assistant professor takes halting steps into the awkward, adult world of office politics and blind dates while harboring feelings for one of her freshman students. Two grown sisters struggle with old assumptions about each other as they stumble to build a new relationship in 'A Map of Modern Palm Springs.' Rome is the setting of 'Puttanesca,' as two young widows move tentatively forward, still surrounded by ghosts and disappointments from the past. These twelve stories, filled with the sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language that are sure to become Straub's hallmarks, announce the arrival of a major new talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Audio
Straub's debut collection of 12 stories mixes regret, remorse, and ironic insight to highlight couples and decisions. The big choices are already made (marriage, children, staying together or not), and yet small, everyday decisions can change a relationship completely with blinding speed. Narrator Coleen Marlo easily carries all of the characters in her voice. Even with multiple players in a single story, she smoothly transitions between men/women and young/old. VERDICT Recommended for readers (both men and women) of pithy short stories of young couples set in modern times. ["These stories of love in its various permutations, gone wrong and right, are told with a captivating wryness...that readers will find tremendously appealing," read the review of the Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA) pb, LJ 2/15/12.—Ed.]—J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA
Publishers Weekly
Though fresh and satisfying insights can surface in even the most common terrain, this debut story collection, from the daughter of horror heavyweight Peter Straub, offers little originality or wit. Despite the stories taking place in different locations, what the characters encounter along the way remains provincial, the circumstantial and geographic territory covered ringing all too familiar. Set in the Midwest, “Some People Must Really Fall in Love,” presents a young female professor with a crush on one of her students. In “Rosemary,” set in Brooklyn, a new mother’s beloved cat flees after the baby is born. In the title story, Franny’s best friend is a gay man who awkwardly accompanies her and her husband on a Martha’s Vineyard vacation. “Puttanesca,” by contrast, is a delight: Stephen and Laura met through their bereavement counselor, having each lost a significant other when young. Despite a trip to Italy, Laura in particular remains in the shadow of her dead husband, and in this there is tenderness and intrigue. “Orient Point” follows an unlikely couple and their baby to Long Island. Though it’s the shortest of the collection, it’s also the strongest, nailing both a humor and an inevitable loss that is never quite realized in the other stories. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Brick House. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Other People We Married is a revelation.”
—Lorrie Moore, author of Birds of America and A Gate at the Stairs

“Emma Straub is worthy of our adoration. These stories are wise, surprising, hilarious, and unforgettable.”
—Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Swamplandia!

“Emma Straub is a wry, witty, incisively observant writer.”
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

“Emma Straub’s stories mean that there are fewer lonely people in the world; they are the best kind of company. I’m giddy about their very existence, the way you get giddy when you meet someone you’d like to know for a long, long time. I look forward to knowing Emma Straub’s fiction for a long, long time.”
—Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York and Osprey Island

“Razor sharp and tenderhearted, funny and wrenching. Emma Straub’s stories take place in all the messy, fascinating, uncanny corners of contemporary relationships.”
—Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners

“Emma Straub has such a graceful, brittle, subversive voice that it takes a moment after you surface from her stories, drugged with pleasure and ringing with sharp insight, to realize how deeply she loves and understands humanity. Other People We Married is a terrific collection of stories, and Emma Straub is a joyous marvel of a writer.”
—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Delicate Edible Birds

“The smarts and humor of a Lorrie Moore or a Laurie Colwin or a Laurie Anderson—any number of Lauries.”
—Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead, for the Oxford American

Library Journal
Straub's stories go down easy, like a remembered conversation with a wise and witty friend. In her debut collection, she establishes characters and situations that feel immediately familiar and draw one in from the start. Many of her first sentences read like overheard dialog from the couple at the next table at the local bistro, but in this case one gets the chance to learn the delicious context. A story called "Rosemary" begins, "Claire didn't want to tell her husband that she'd called a pet psychic." Another, titled "A Map of Modern Palm Springs," features two sisters with a difficult history trying out a vacation together and begins, "The Palm Springs airport was more outside than inside, all sun-soaked breezeways and squinting white people in gold shirts." VERDICT These stories of love in its various permutations, gone wrong and right, are told with a captivating wryness, reminiscent of the early Ann Beattie, that readers will find tremendously appealing.—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Psychologically acute, often very funny and only occasionally glib, these stories show great promise, though a few of the dozen in this debut collection are almost as slight as the best are compelling. Straub writes predominantly from the perspective of a youngish woman in New York (where she lives and works as a bookseller) and often in the first person, though these narratives seem to transcend the thinly disguised memoir of so much fledgling fiction. Certain motifs seem signature. Many of the stories have a coming-of-age quality to them, though the "girls" who are experiencing these rites of passage might be well into their 20s or 30s, and some are even mothers. Like Franny, the unhappily married (or at least unfulfilled, for happiness may be beyond the emotional range of so many of Straub's characters) protagonist of three of these stories: "She still thought she was a cow with her leftover baby weight and yet insisted on wearing those stupid pigtails all young mothers seem to think it's their right to wear, as if they were all waiting, gasping, praying for someone to say, Oh, you! You can't be the mother of this child! You couldn't possibly be old enough!" In addition to arrested development, or a post-adolescence that extends into what was once considered middle age, a surprising number of these stories find two (or more) characters on vacation, or in a state of dislocation, a place where either the relationship changes or they (or at least one of them) discovers what has been wrong all along. They must, as Franny discovers in the pre-marriage "Pearls," where her friendship with her very different roommate briefly turns romantic. In the first-person opening story, "Some People Must Really Fall in Love," a young teacher in the grip of what she considers an inappropriate infatuation with a student tells her freshman class that "stories didn't have to have morals at the end." And many of these stories are left comparatively open-ended, rich in interpretive possibility. A fresh voice from a writer who deserves discovery.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611205602
  • Publisher: Dreamscape, LLC
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Emma Straub

Emma Straub is from New York City. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published by Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, Time, Slate, and The New York Times, and she is a staff writer for Rookie. Emma lives with her husband in Brooklyn, where she also works as a bookseller.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
“A rising literary star debuts with twelve wry, poignant stories of love, hope, and transformation.

In this vibrant collection, Emma Straub creates characters as recognizable as a best friend, and follows them through moments of triumph and transformation with wit, vulnerability, and dazzling insight. These stories, filled with the sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language that are sure to become Straub’s hallmarks, announce the arrival of a major new talent.

ABOUT EMMA STRAUB

Emma Straub is from New York City. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published by Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, Slate, and Cousin Corinne’s Reminder. She is a staff writer for Rookie. Emma lives with her husband in Brooklyn, where she also works as a bookseller.

“Emma Straub is worthy of our adoration. These stories are wise, surprising, hilarious, and unforgettable.” —Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Swamplandia

“Emma Straub is a wry, witty, incisively observant writer.” —Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

“In these stories of grief, love, loss and transplantation, Emma Straub demonstrates her brilliance, her humor, her sharp observational powers, as well as her lyrical gifts and affection for the world. She is a terrific new talent.” —Lorrie Moore, author of Birds of America and A Gate at the Stairs

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • In “Some People Must Really Fall in Love,” Amy harbors the fantasy of being with her much–younger student, Paul, despite their age difference. Why does he seem more appealing to her than Martin, an available man of her own age?
  • In “Rosemary,” Claire hires a pet psychic when her cat goes missing. What does the psychic, Vivian, give her that her husband cannot? Do you think Claire really believes that Vivian will be able to help her find her missing cat? Why do you think Claire is so reluctant to tell her husband about Vivian?
  • Discuss the ending of “A Map of Modern Palm Springs.” Do you think Lizzie would leave Abigail in the desert? How do Lizzie’s desires compare to her actions over the course of the story?
  • Discuss how the dynamic between Jackie and Franny changes throughout the course of “Pearls.” How has Franny changed or stayed the same in “Other People We married” and “Mohawk”? How do we see her character evolve?
  • In “Abraham’s Enchanted Forest,” Greta’s life is filled with fantasy—from living in her parents pseudo–amusement park to her father’s part–time job as a Walt Whitman impersonator. What role does Nathan play in this fantasy world? Is he more fantasy or reality? What does it mean that Greta chooses to stay?
  • In “Fly–Over State,” Sophie and Mud form somewhat of an unlikely friendship. What do you think draws them together? Sophie frequently compares New York to her new home in Wisconsin. How, if at all, has the move affected Sophie and James’ relationship?
  • “Other People We Married” is, in some ways, about the baggage that comes with any relationship. Discuss how the relationship between Jim, Franny, and Charles either confirms or rejects this idea.
  • Do you think part of the reason Laura agrees to go to Rome with Stephen in “Puttanesca” is that it will remind her of her late husband, John? Stephen buys Laura an expensive handbag, which seems to make her more uneasy than any of his other large expenditures, like their pricy hotel room. Why do you think this purchase is so off–putting to Laura?
  • In “Marjorie and the Birds,” Marjorie takes up bird watching after her husband dies and describes it not as “a hobby at all, but like agreeing to be more observant” (p. 171). Do you find Marjorie to be an observant person in other aspects of her life?
  • In “Mohawk,” Jim embodies several stereotypically “feminine” concerns and attitudes, such as wanting more children and worrying about his son when he goes to sleep away camp. How do these characteristics play out in the relationship between him and his wife, Fran?
  • The epiphanies in these stories are subtle. What are some of the recurring themes and motifs in the collection? What, if anything, do the characters here learn and/or come to terms with?
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    Sample fail

    The sample doesn't even make it all the way through the library of congress. Not sure if this is a mistake or intentional, but it should be corrected.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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