The Kissing List [NOOK Book]

Overview

An inventive debut that recalls the imagination of Aimee Bender and the sardonic wit of Lorrie Moore.

The interlocking stories in The Kissing List feature an unforgettable group of young women – Sylvie, Anna, Frances, Maureen – as their lives connect, first during a year abroad at Oxford, then later as they move to New York on the cusp of adulthood. We follow each of them as they navigate the treachery of first dates, temp jobs and ...
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The Kissing List

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Overview

An inventive debut that recalls the imagination of Aimee Bender and the sardonic wit of Lorrie Moore.

The interlocking stories in The Kissing List feature an unforgettable group of young women – Sylvie, Anna, Frances, Maureen – as their lives connect, first during a year abroad at Oxford, then later as they move to New York on the cusp of adulthood. We follow each of them as they navigate the treachery of first dates, temp jobs and roommates, failed relationships and unexpected affairs – all the things that make their lives seem full of possibility, but also rife with potential disappointment.

Shot through with laugh-out-loud lines, yet still wrenchingly emotional and resonant, The Kissing List is a book about women who bravely defy expectations and take outrageous chances in the face of a life that might turn out to be anything less than extraordinary.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Reents's characters are as sharp as they are sly, as intellectually brilliant as they are oddball…These stories are often funny, but there's a satisfying dark edge to all the ridiculous quarter-life-crisis floundering…Reents weaves the book's stories together with humor, grief and slender prose, giving us all a glimpse—or a reminder—of what it feels like to wonder whether one "is still light enough to touch down softly, or how she'll feel when she finishes turning into something new."
—Haley Tanner
Publishers Weekly
Reents’s collection is formally adept—one story in which a woman trades sex for designer clothes moves seamlessly into another that begins with an ill-fitting and outdated suit worn to a temp job. Despite the pleasing transitions, however, the entire volume is infused with a melancholic wistfulness that can come off as self-indulgent, and the weakest stories tend to be shallow and predictable. The stories form a patchwork of the lives of friends and acquaintances in New York, told from different perspectives, which flesh out significant events—such as Laurie’s cancer, or the ever-changing landscape of Sylvia’s love life. Reents uses the myriad viewpoints and freedom of the short format to play with different styles and forms, but the whole is cohesive. “Roommates,” for example, is a traditional, realist narrative, but Reents experiments with surrealism (“Disquisition on Tears”) and a detached, third-person narrative that reinforces the notion of a diaspora of the self (“Love for Women”). If not exactly trailblazing, Reents has created a collection that is emotionally vivid and stylistically interesting. Agent: Emily Forland, the Wendy Weil Agency. (May)
From the Publisher
"Reents’s characters are as sharp as they are sly, as intellectually brilliant as they are oddball. These stories are often funny, but there’s a satisfying dark edge....Reents weaves the book’s stories together with humor, grief and slender prose."
—The New York Times Book Review

"Imaginative and skillfully written."
—The New Yorker

"Filled with funny observations and sharp insights....cleverness is the defining virtue of this collection....Think Lena Dunham’s Girls."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Funny and fresh."
New York Daily News

"A hysterical collection of stories about sex and relationships that touch on things that are actually dark and miserable....The short-story collection Lena Dunham might write."
Grantland.com

"Reents’ stories are witty and packed with sharp, irreverent dialogue. With rhythm and verve unusual in most story collections, conversations in 'The Kissing List' turn into flesh and blood."
San Francisco Examiner

"Reents impresses with her knowledge of conflicted young-adult hearts and her astute portrait of their social lives....Sharp work from a promising writer." 
Kirkus

"This invigorating debut collection follows a group of young women searching for fulfillment in life and love....Reents’s witty narratives highlight the nuances of her characters’ desires and hesitations."
Booklist

"Formally adept...Reents has created a collection that is emotionally vivid and stylistically interesting."
Publishers Weekly

"The stories in The Kissing List are alternately ferocious, light-footed, sharp, and mordant; Stephanie Reents, in her first collection, proves herself to be a writer of terrific grace and power."
Lauren Groff, author of the New York Times Bestseller The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia
 
"The Kissing List is a relevant, daring, and beautifully-written book. The writing is breathless and tricksy, and at the heart of each story lies a radiant desperation. There are dashes of Amy Hempel in here, and Aimee Bender, too, but ultimately the book comes out of a sensibility all Reents' own."
Anthony Doerr, author of Memory Wall and About Grace
 
"Stephanie Reents' stories are lucid, exciting, and unlike anything I've read before." Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries 
 
"Gird yourself for the talent of Stephanie Reents, whose astringent wit and innovative, crunk-like rhythms could carry this collection alone. The surprise is how deeply moving The Kissing List is, too: at once sassy and soulful, and tart enough to make your eyes water and--yes--your lips pucker."
Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others
 

"The Kissing List is carried forward by a fierce and clear-eyed curiosity about human connection and the creation of self. With sassy sexiness, sophisticated humor, and consummate intelligence, Reents draws us into her exploration of what it means to love. I kept hurrying back to the book so I could read it some more—it’s as compulsively readable as it is perceptive."
Aurelie Sheehan, author of History Lesson for Girls

"Stephanie Reents’ The Kissing List is that rare phenomenon, a book that does justice to the complexity and ambivalence and hilarity of human relationships. This is a book about the mortality and mutability of everything that matters:  romance,  female friendship, ideals, and  the self. Through the sheer force of its wit and insight and fearlessness, it is also a book about the things that never die. A moving and razor-sharp debut."
Suzanne Rivecca, author of Death is not an Option

"Nothing you’ve read before will prepare you for these sly, funny, beautifully off-kilter stories. In Reents’s hands, tragedy and comedy aren’t so much related as indistinguishable, and the only happy marriage is between romance and despair.  I guarantee The Kissing List will occupy a place in your heart."
Eric Puchner, author of Model Home
Library Journal
Don't be fooled by the cover—this is not the first chick-lit novel from the author of Last Will and Testament: My Frozen Eggs, but a complicated series of interlocking short stories. The main characters are all college-educated women, but each story has its own voice and tone. In a collection whose strength lies in its dark humor—Reents has a flair for difficult situations—the title piece is the weakest and the fluffiest. "Roommates," however, is an unsettling, unsentimental look at a cancer victim seen through the eyes of her roommate and her wig's Styrofoam head. "This Is Just To Say" is about the friend who doesn't make it into your memoirs. Readers may want to dismiss "The Memo" as another trendy entrant in the workplace genre, but like Jennifer Egan's PowerPoint story from A Visit from the Goon Squad, it succeeds on storytelling power. VERDICT Not all of these stories work—"Disquisition on Tears" doesn't come together, for instance—but overall this is recommended for readers of contemporary short fiction. "The Memo" alone is worth a trip to the library.—Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. of Maryland, St. Mary's City
Kirkus Reviews
Debut collection of loosely connected stories follows a group of highly educated, often underachieving women through their 20s. "Kissing" introduces us to most of the continuing characters through the eyes of Sylvie while she is a graduate student at Oxford. She sketches a tangled web of flirtations, sexual relations and betrayals among various expat Americans that continues back in the States, where unsettled, disconnected maneuverings are the norm for young people unsure of who they really are. We don't much like Sylvie at the end of the next story, "Roommates," when she moves out of the Manhattan apartment she shares with cancer-stricken Laurie; her oddly noncommittal relationship with Lance, a considerably older doctor from her Western hometown, is off-putting as well. Reluctance to engage is a temptation for much of this collection, which examines marrying for money ("Love for Women"), drifting in and out of jobs ("Temporary") and weird sex ("Little Porn Story") as strategies these smart, anxious women use to delay figuring out what they really want from life. But everyone grows up, whether they like it or not. The strongest stories, "Games" and "Awesome," plumb Sylvie's insecurities and show her learning to be more accepting, less concerned with the impression she makes. The weakest, Laurie's delusional, cancer-stoked reverie in "Disquisition on Tears," strays too far from the plain, realistic plot and character development that is Reents' forte. Gratuitously baroque developments in a few tales also suggest an author still not entirely clear about the essential nature of her talent. On the whole, however, Reents impresses with her knowledge of conflicted young-adult hearts and her astute portrait of their social lives during the years in which the graduates of fancy colleges haven't yet figured out who will make it big and who will merely get along. Sharp work from a promising writer who might do even better with the broader scale of a novel.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307951847
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/22/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,184,470
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

STEPHANIE REENTS's fiction has been included in the O. Henry Prize Stories,
noted in Best American Short Stories, and has appeared in numerous journals.
Stephanie has been a Bread Loaf Conference Scholar, a Stegner Fellow, and a
Rhodes Scholar. She is an assistant professor at the College of the Holy Cross in
Worcester, Massachusetts.
 
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 18, 2013

    Loved it.  

    Loved it.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I really thought I would like this book when I read the "bl

    I really thought I would like this book when I read the "blurb" for it...
    but to me, it was like a dream you have and when you wake up you are not sure what happened, where you are or what you were just dreaming of, slightly confusing and foggy. I must kiss this one goodbye…:(
    As the saying goes, “to every reader her book, every book its reader”
    And for this reader, this was just not my kind of book

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