Which Brings Me to You

Which Brings Me to You

by Steve Almond, Julianna Baggott
     
 

Two rambunctious, romantic flameouts. One boring wedding. One heated embrace in a quiet coatroom. This is not exactly the recipe for true love. John and Jane’s lusty encounter at a friend’s wedding isn’t really the beginning of anything with any weight to it; even they know that. When they manage to pull back, it occurs to them that they might

Overview


Two rambunctious, romantic flameouts. One boring wedding. One heated embrace in a quiet coatroom. This is not exactly the recipe for true love. John and Jane’s lusty encounter at a friend’s wedding isn’t really the beginning of anything with any weight to it; even they know that. When they manage to pull back, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over properly. They might try getting to know one another first, through letters.

What follows is a series of traded confessions—of their messy histories, their past errors, their big loves, their flaws, and their passions. Each love affair, confessed as honestly as possible, reveals the ways in which Jane and John have grown and changed—or not changed—over the years; the people they’ve hurt, the ones still bruised. The ones who bruised them. Where all of this soul-baring will take them is the burning question behind every letter—a question that can only be answered when they meet again, finally, in the flesh.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This witty but self-conscious epistolary novel starts with strangers groping each other in a coat closet and ends with the beginning of a relationship. Baggott (Girl Talk) and Almond (Candyfreak) join forces for "an extended power-flirt," conducted through the snail-mail correspondence between Jane and John, two 30-somethings who meet at a wedding and almost consummate their lust before John puts the brakes on, wondering if it might be the real thing. Jane reluctantly agrees to take it slow, so John returns to New York and Jane goes to Philadelphia, where they pen their respective confessions revealing their erotic and emotional experiences-they've both enjoyed a "past littered with regret." They are, in Jane's words, "two low grade Romantics. Tough but susceptible." By the time Jane and John meet again face-to-face in Hopewell, N.J., we know their backstories as well as their literary quirks. Sharp humor and insights into the modern psyche pervade the book, but not enough to make it add up to anything more than a pretense for hot scenes and spicy talk, a lot of sex and a little "low grade" romance. (May 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Two thirtysomething wedding guests, John and Jane, recognize a common edginess in each other, a spark of sameness and attraction, that leads them to an almost one-wedding stand on the floor of the coatroom. In the heat of the moment, John realizes that Jane might have something more interesting to offer than just a quick roll in the proverbial hay and proposes that they write each other, after they return to their respective hometowns. These letters would confess the regrets and wrong turns that each of them has made in their love lives so that when and if John and Jane meet again, they'll have wiped the slate clean and gained a complete understanding of each other's relationship patterns and expectations. What ensues is an exchange of letters usually titled by the boyfriend's or girlfriend's name under discussion. Once all is confessed, what is on the horizon for these two slightly broken romantics? The writing is piercing, funny, and emotional. Baggott (Girl Talk) and Almond's (Candyfreak) collaboration makes for a delightful and robust work that readers will not be able to put down as they savor every messy confession. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thirtysomethings meet, don't quite couple, then retreat into a steamy, increasingly revealing correspondence in this quirky epistolary novel. It's a collaboration between short-story writer Almond (My Life in Heavy Metal, 2001, etc.) and chick-lit author Baggott (The Madam, 2003, etc.). Their creations are John and Jane, who meet at a wedding, check each other out, then tumble into a coat closet, unbuttoning and panting, until he backs off, and they subsequently agree to become better acquainted by exchanging detailed "confessions" at a safe distance (she's in Philadelphia, he's in New York). The episodic results are sexy, funny and touching. In alternating chapters bridged by combative responses and queries, we learn of John's high-school romance with Rubenesque Jodi; a summer-camp-counseling fling extended into a lingering affair with an "older woman" (of 24); and gratifying dalliances with a Latina bombshell and a single mom who's also an accomplished pastry chef. Jane's confessions disclose a teenage relationship with Mohawk-bedecked Michael, a collegiate whirl with a semi-dashing (and clueless) rich guy ("It was like he was a country with his own anthem"), an affair with erotically versatile married swingers and engagement to a virtually perfect gentleman who won't open up and let her inside his world of guarded family secrets. Acting on the shared conviction that "Every famous case of love boils down to reckless honesty," they meet (literally) halfway, confront each other's evasions and hangups and seem ready for the closet again, as The Curtain Falls. All's well that doesn't end after all, and the contented reader anticipates (what both Jane and John would have wittily, mercilesslymocked) something very like a future for these two bright, screwed-up, engaging oddballs. Keen insights into sex, love and coming to terms with one's own unruly imperfections. A winner.
New York Times Book Review
“For Baggott, cosmic irony is always in the details, the absurd gap between self-knowledge and behavioral excess….[Her] brand of witty psychological observation is dark and corrosive….She has a knack for finding the oxymoronic in any situation.”
Houston Chronicle
“Almond is a brilliant craftsman. But more, he is a writer who knows us as well as we know ourselves.”
Entertainment Weekly
"The constant mix of sweet and sour, of heart-swelling romance and smart-ass banter is the official language of Modern Urban Singledom. The best-selling author duo (he of Candyfreak, she of Girl Talk) make fine use of the epistolary form—with a few funny postal mishaps lending a hip meta touch. Their couple's distinct voices and push-pull dynamic are terrifically engaging. A-"
Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565124431
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
04/28/2006
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.69(w) x 7.75(h) x 1.06(d)

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What People are saying about this

Madison Smartt Bell
“Few writers of the twenty-first century can rival the verve, the energy, and the sheer delight in language of Julianna Baggott.”
- Madison Smartt Bell
From the Publisher
“Few writers of the twenty-first century can rival the verve, the energy, and the sheer delight in language of Julianna Baggott.”

- Madison Smartt Bell

Meet the Author


Julianna Baggott is the author of the bestseller Girl Talk, as well as The Miss America Family, The Madam, and a book of poems. She writes popular children’s books under the pseudonym N. E. Bode. She teaches at Florida State University.

Steve Almond has published over one hundred stories and poems—in publications ranging from Playboy to Tin House to Zoetrope—and a two previous collections of stories, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow. He is the author of the bestselling novel Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America.

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