Monday, December 16, 2013

Both Ways, but Wanting More

When I read The Night in Question by Tobias Wolff, I was so impressed with the intensity that Wolff brought to each story, that I decided that the reason his stories were not novels is that no reader could stand the tension long enough to read a full novel.  With that expectation, I began reading Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy.  Sadly, I didn't find what I was looking for.

To me, the best thing about Both Ways is the title.  I totally get that.  Meloy took the title from a poem by A. R. Ammons, which she quotes before her stories begin.  The theme of wanting what one can't have, and being indecisive about those wants plays out again and again in the stories, but I found that I really didn't care.  I didn't have any pages turned down with unforgettable quotes, and now, less than 24 hours after finishing the book, I can't tell you a single character's name.  Pathetically, in opening the book to try to refresh my memory, I realized that two of the characters in the last story of the book were named Bonnie and Clyde.  Even that I forgot. 

I was looking forward to reading Both Ways all year, since I like short stories, and I had read something good about this collection.  In fact, Both Ways was a NYT Notable for 2009.  I guess I'm just more of a Tobias Wolff kind of a girl.

This is the 24th book for the Off the Shelf Challenge.  I think that it will probably be the last Off the Shelfer of the year.  I can't feel too bad about not making my "goal" of 25 books, since my original goal was only 15, and I increased the goal twice.

Next up:  The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Still Listening to:  Winter of the World by Ken Follett

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