Women in Bed: Nine Stories

( 3 )

Overview


Jessica Keener’s extraordinary debut novel, Night Swim captivated readers with its eloquence, insight, and humanity. “This gripping first novel announces the arrival of a strong, distinct and fully evolved new voice,” said Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants called Keener, “An amazing new literary voice.”

Now Jessica Keener returns with this collection of nine ...

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Women in Bed: Nine Stories

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Overview


Jessica Keener’s extraordinary debut novel, Night Swim captivated readers with its eloquence, insight, and humanity. “This gripping first novel announces the arrival of a strong, distinct and fully evolved new voice,” said Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants called Keener, “An amazing new literary voice.”

Now Jessica Keener returns with this collection of nine stories that thematically address variations of love – love of self, family, and sexual relationships – from loneliness and isolation, desperation and rejection – to need and passion, forgiveness and, finally, to love found.

“Secrets” follows a young woman that gets involved with a female friend who pushes her boundaries around sex, love, and intimacy.

In “Papier Mache,” a college student who loses brother to suicide is grieving and gets entangled with a professor who is a critic and over-intellectualizes everything. The student challenges the professor and vice versa in a strange power dance with emotional fallout.

“Boarders” tells the story of a young college student who drops out to be with her narcissistic lover. She lives in grim boarding house with desolate, lonely men until she realizes that she must flee to find something better, healthier, more nurturing and loving.

“Woman with Birds in her Chest” involves a woman who leaves her social worker job and realizes she has never truly nurtured herself. Her ensuing breakdown puts her loving marriage to the test.

“Recovery” tells of a young woman in a hospital room who witnesses death, escapes her own, and comes to terms with life’s uncertainties and the unexpected power of sibling love.

In “Shoreline,” a woman leaves her husband, goes to a cottage on the beach, and has a flirtation with a client. She soon discovers that she must end her marriage before she can move on to find a new love.

In “Bird of Grief,” a grad student recovering from a broken relationship projects her anger and grief onto a new man, eventually coming to terms with letting go.

“Forgiveness” is a spare, stark story of two sisters, family violence, and the quest for forgiveness.

In “Heart,” a woman meets her lover in a Paris hotel room and goes through a cycle of anxiety, worry, and the expectation that things will not work out, only to be surprised by the goodness that emerges.

Poignant, surprising, funny and profound, and always perceptive and gorgeously written, Women in Bed is a rich collection of moving tales that will engage you from the first page.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/26/2013
If Keener’s first short story collection, following her debut novel Night Swim, can be said to have a theme, it might be women’s struggles to reconcile relationships—be they with friends, family, lovers, or enemies—with changing perspective and internal turmoil. In the wrenching “Woman with Birds in Her Chest,” a newly unemployed woman searches for purpose through volunteer work at a hospice. A waitress finally gets a chance to spend time with the regular who intrigues her, with disappointing results, in “Secrets.” Several stories (“Boarders,” “Bird of Grief,” “Heart”) visit the same character at different phases of her romantic life: a naïve college dropout on the verge of being rejected by her boyfriend; a habitual liar and serial monogamist; and, finally, a woman working at stability with a long-distance lover. The most interesting and memorable relationships in these stories are directly adversarial—a student and her antagonistic professor in “Papier-mâché,” a young girl and her petty tyrant of a landlord in “Boarders,” a woman and her jealous husband in “Shoreline”—but Keener can convey subtler dynamics with equal skill. Although the collection sometimes drags, she demonstrates a versatile voice and ability to deliver as much exquisite detail as the stories’ brevity will allow. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“What we do – or don’t or won’t do – for love, in all its incarnations, is at the fiercely beating heart of this stellar collection of linked stories. As exhilarating as love at first sight, and written in prose as clear and spare as a single bed, these stories linger, haunt and showcase the talents of a literary master.”
– Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU and IS THIS TOMORROW

“It is impossible to turn away from these beautiful and evocative stories. Jessica Keener explores the courage, vulnerabilities, and strength of women in every phase of life. No matter who you are, you will see a version of yourself illuminated in this poignant, powerful book.”
– Jessica Anya Blau, author of THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER

“Seductive, incandescent, suspenseful, and wise, WOMEN IN BED is a masterful collection that explores a landscape of intimate love, heartbreak, and desire. Keener’s writing has a thrilling clarity. At once multifaceted and seamless, these stories map, with searing precision, the intricacies of the heart and those irrevocable moments on which a life turns.”
– Dawn Tripp, author of GAME OF SECRETS and winner of the Massachusetts Book Award

"Haunting and profoundly thought-provoking, the nine stories in Jessica Keener's WOMEN IN BED are probing, unflinching portrayals of self-reflection and redemption."
– Maryanne O'Hara, author of CASCADE, a People Magazine "Book Picks, 2012"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611880755
  • Publisher: Story Plant, The
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 162
  • Sales rank: 688,415
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Jessica Keener has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under “Outstanding Writers.” Her fiction has appeared most recently in: Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Night Train, and Wilderness House Literary Review. A recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Grant Program, and second prize in fiction from Redbook magazine, her feature articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, Design New England, O, The Oprah Magazine and other national publications. Her first novel, Night Swim was published to critical acclaim and was a national bestseller.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    No question that this author has a beautiful and unexpected way

    No question that this author has a beautiful and unexpected way with words. "I like the surefootedness of her voice." "Even the hallway of my building, which for a moment is cool and dark, grows hot. Nothing lasts. My apartment is roasting away. My cat is too tired to greet me." I have BEEN there (haven't we all?) in the enervating heat, when what seemed cool doesn't anymore, when there a despair and depression partly born of the heat, and of other things.

    I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    If you are looking for sex or erotica, based on the title - beside a few brief mentions, there isn't any here. These women are in bed with a potential friend, with themselves and many different emotions, with a tube dripping chemotherapy into their bloodstream (those scenes are VERY real and vivid, which could be either cathartic, or triggering, if the reader has or has known someone going through this).

    I didn't always like the main characters, and that was okay; I sometimes felt unsettled, and that was okay; my problem, if you can call it that, is I didn't feel a sense of deeper, united purpose or a take-away message. Maybe I am too dense to "get it," but I feel like I read nine well-written short stories, and... I'm somehow unsatisfied, like eating meringue cookies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderfully Written Short Story Collection

    Written with quiet emotion, Women in Bed by Jessica Keener is about women and their relationship involvements. Comprised of nine short stories, the author touches on a variety of situations and feelings that are totally relatable and realistic. I found myself attached to each story in this well-planned collection that runs the gamut of emotions, while not going over the top! Alone, each story is enjoyable, but I feel it is the “togetherness” in one book that truly brings out the flavor and quality of Ms. Keener’s smooth writing style. If you’re short on time, or ready to settle in for a while, Women in Bed is a good choice in Women’s Fiction without being overly flowery or too stark!

    I received an ARC edition from The Story Plant in exchange for my honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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