Recent Read: Single, Carefree, Mellow

I finished Katherine Heiny’s collection of short stories, Single, Carefree, Mellow, a few weeks ago.

I tore through this book, finishing it in one weekend outside by the pool.

From Goodreads page

From Goodreads page

This collection of stories focuses on women in various stages of their young, professional lives. They were easy to read and follow. One of the characters, Maya, was featured in several of the stories, moving through her life.

The first story involving Maya really struck me because it focused on her dog, who was dying, and her relationship with her boyfriend, which was also struggling. It wasn’t so much the actual story line that got me, but the dog dying. My family had to put one of our pets down after 15 1/2 pretty great years. And reading about the same thing happening to another dog, even 18 months after that awful event, had me wiping tears from under my sunglasses.

These stories were well-written and flowed easily off the page. Heiny has a background in magazine writing and it shows. The writing was descriptive and painted images on the page, something magazine writers do frequently.

Several of Heiny’s short stories were published before this book was published, so calling it a debut is interesting. In terms of a book, it is, but in terms of debut writing…. eh…. I’m not so sure.

In February, just prior to the book’s release, The New York Times wrote a story about Heiny. You can read it here:

Heiny was married to a spy. That’s pretty awesome and it had to give her some good material to power her stories, even if that isn’t necessarily reflected in this collection.

(On a sidenote, how would that conversation on a date have gone?  “So what do you do for a living?” “Oh, I’m a spy.” “Haha, good one. Really, what do you do for a living?” “Really. I’m a spy.”)

This is a good short story collection that is a fast-paced read filled with profound writing.

One quote that struck me in the short story Dark Matter: ‘With lovers, you kissed and you put your arms around each other, you had sex and you held hands, you spooned and you sat on the other person’s lap, and sometimes you scrunched into a bathtub together. But you didn’t hug, not precisely. It seemed to be a step that lovers skipped over. Now she understood why. Hugging meant the end.’

I get it. The same thing could be true to an extent in friendships. You exchange a hug and it symbolizes something. That last time you leave your college campus and friends as you scatter, you hug. It’s an end.

I would give this short story collection a 3.5 out of five stars.


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