When she’s in a bad mood, she doesn’t hide it, and I’m not sure if I’m jealous or appalled.
Of all the stories in Sittenfeld’s collection, I loved The World Has Many Butterflies. Julie plays a game, which the title of the collection comes from, with her friend Graham. Who knew sharing snarky comments about the people around them could explode into a flirtation. Where will it lead? It’s too real, too raw and oh the shame. I wish I could go on and on about how funny it was to me, but it would ruin the story. Her characters are perfect, they think inappropriate thoughts, are flawed like the rest of us and either thave wonderful clarity or lose the plot in their own lives. A Regular Couple is fantastic, what makes for a better story than a run-in with an old ‘evil’ girl from your school years? You know that girl, every school had one. The girl everyone adored for her beauty, who walked the halls wreaking havoc in everyone’s lives, who knew how to take power and she did, apparently from Maggie. But Maggie is high-powered herself these days, she is no longer an awkward nor clueless girl and how is it that all those high school memories are coming back? Why is she on the defensive, shrinking again? Ashley brings up the subject of the trial Maggie was involved in, already a ‘touchy’ subject, and Maggie has had enough! Getting called out by feminists is bad enough, but she isn’t going to take being called out by Ashley! Is her Honeymoon with Jason ruined?
Volunteers Are Shining Stars was another story in the collection that I really liked. The word volunteer brings to mind for most people feelings of love, harmony and brotherhood. Frances volunteers with children at New Day House, everything has its rhythm until a new volunteer named Alaina decides to dive in, and make waves. She is crawling under Frances skin in no time with her fresh ideas and her ‘insights’. Strange the how the most innocuous person can make us lose it.
These stories are full of simple interactions that are loaded with taut moments causing undue distress. Some are little humiliations, oh how wrongly we perceive what’s happening to us, so much harder to see with clarity just what is going on beneath the surface when we are in the way. I liked the collection for its mundane periods, the slightest friction and off we go with our emotional chaos. Nothing big has to happen, it’s the little things, isn’t it?
Publication Date: April 24, 2018