Advance Praise for She Was Like That:
“This is a piercing, intimate, and exquisite collection.”—Publishers Weekly
"Tales of spare, unflinching beauty show how love and loneliness can occupy a heart together.” —Kirkus Reviews
“I loved these stories, wide-open, varied, generous, warm, funny.”—Tessa Hadley, author of Late in the Day
“Kate Walbert is inarguably one of our foremost chroniclers of the existential dilemma of being not just a woman, but a human. With astonishing precision, alive and alert to the complications embedded in even the simplest exchange, Walbert slips into the fissures and fault lines of her utterly compelling characters doing the best of what a writer can do: she makes the familiar strange, and in doing so, reveals the glorious complexity of a world we only think we know.”—Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin
Praise for His Favorites:
“His Favorites is exactly the book for our times. That Kate Walbert has managed to write a novel that is riveting, terrifying, and yet always charmingly buoyant, speaks volumes to how well she understands women. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going on, how these things happen, read this book.”
—Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth
“The writing is so beautiful and exact—so startling in every sentence—that His Favorites took me way past what I thought I knew. This is a novel that shines with a laser beam, lighting what needs to be lit.”
–Joan Silber, award-winning author of Improvement
“The smartest, most brutally true novel I’ve read this year. His Favorites reveals Kate Walbert’s dazzling ability to render the unsayable.”
–Carolyn Cooke, author of Daughters of the Revolution
“Of all the lessons gleaned from #MeToo, one stands out as particularly sinister: before things turn treacherous, there’s a moment when predation can feel dangerously like kindness. A young person, not yet aware of his or her power, is made to feel special–and then it’s too late. Kate Walbert understands this… His Favorites begs to be read.”
—Lucy Feldman, Time
“A layered, time-bending book that depicts the lingering effects of abuse…there will be no mistaking Walbert for anything but devastatingly relevant.”
—Lauren Mechling, Vogue
"Kate Walbert's most powerful novel yet... fueled by gorgeous writing, as well as outrage... heartbreaking and galvanizing."
—Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
"At just 150 pages long, His Favorites… is impossible to put down."
—Rosa Inocencio Smith, The Atlantic
“A quick and powerful read, with a story both gripping and harrowing…you’ll read this tense, taut, and thrilling novel in the shadow of #MeToo and ache for violated women across the decades.”
—Samantha Irby, Marie Claire
"An unflinching addition to the #MeToo conversation.”
—Cory Oldweiler, AM New York
"A sharp look at school days that are anything but idyllic...Walbert’s slim, impactful novel, distinguished as all her work is by beautiful writing and a wealth of literary allusions, could not be more timely.”
“Taut, powerful…Jo narrates with brutal honesty…Her story, filled with rage and regret and intensified by its searing portrait of self-aware, self-destructive teenage girls, provides a case history in male-female relationships built on an imbalance of power.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“Rendered in crystalline, matter-of-fact prose relating the narrator’s own emotional numbness and distancing, this self-aware metanovel is well timed for our current political era. Walbert packs a punch.”
—Library Journal, STARRED review
Praise for A Short History of Women:
"Wickedly smart . . . A gorgeously wrought and ultimately wrenching work of art."
—Leah Hager Cohen, New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"Ambitious and impressive . . . Reminiscent of a host of innovative writers from Virginia Woolf to Muriel Spark to Pat Barker . . . A witty and assured testament to the women’s movement and women writers, obscure and renowned.”
"A subtle and profound book, as thought-provoking as it is moving."
—Ann Packer, author of The Dive From Clausen’s Pier
"What a marvelous book: one part Transit of Venus, one part Stone Diaries, one part incomparable. Actually, that's not true: she write like a female Ian McEwan."
—Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
"Urban/suburban women" experience the extremes of mother love—and its cost—in Walbert's (His Favorites, 2018, etc.) volume of new and selected stories.
The opening story, "M&M World," sets the tone as a divorced New Yorker is seized with anxiety when she momentarily can't find one of her daughters on an outing to Times Square. For Walbert's financially secure but emotionally shaky white women, maternal love is both overpowering and deeply stressful. Friendship is at best a temporary salve for women socializing uneasily, if tipsily, during their daughters' get-together in "Playdate." Several stories look back to earlier times, when women were only beginning to explore the possibility of mutual support: In "The Blue Hour," narrator Marion (who may or may not be the dead mother Marion mourned by a daughter in "Paris, 1994") recalls her brief but intense friendship as a young mother in Rochester with a woman who couldn't fit into the staid norms of the time and later committed suicide; in "Conversation," ladies from "the faster set" in a Vietnam War-era suburban development attempt a "rap session" while the hostess's black maid serves drinks until eventually joining in. "To Do," about a teenage girl covering for her mother's alcoholism—most of the women in these stories drink—is told from the point of view of the resentful grown daughter. But most of Walbert's mothers, even the drinkers, cherish their children, especially when the child has special needs ("A Mother Is Someone Who Tells Jokes"), is emotionally damaged ("Esperanza"), or even dead ("Do Something"). "Radical Feminists" is the only story prominently featuring a man. The protagonist runs into her former boss, who once made her choose between a burgeoning career and motherhood. She adores her sons but still harbors vengeance fantasies toward her ex-boss. Oddly, the title story concerns the volume's one successful professional, a widowed professor long past mothering. Reminiscent of Cheever's "The Swimmer," she escapes routine life by driving rainy streets, giving rides to strangers with whom she shares her stories.
Tales of spare, unflinching beauty show how love and loneliness can occupy a heart together.
Offering stories both new and previously published, many having appeared from the 1990s to the present in publications such as the Yale Review, The New Yorker, and the Paris Review, this collection ranges in subject from single parenting and divorce to random acts of kindness. "M&M World" captures the overwhelming fear a mother feels when her child goes missing and her relief and gratitude when the child is found again. "Playdate" compares the get-together of grown women to that of two small girls, while "She Was Like That" concerns a college professor who gives rides to random strangers caught in a sudden rainstorm during the New York City rush hour. Several tales deal with the adjustments necessary for everyone concerned when a couple divorces. Briefly sketching a life-changing event that has brought the main character to the present moment, each piece provides a glimpse into the lives of the central characters as they grapple with problems, joys, and disappointments. VERDICT These stories from National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Walbert are poignant and compelling; each is complete in itself but will leave the reader wanting more. Recommended for all short story readers. [See Prepub Alert, 3/15/19.]—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence