The Kissing List, by Stephanie Reents
In this new collection of loosely connected short stories (one of the first offerings from new imprint- Hogarth) Reents explores the lives of a several different young women. Some of the stories are sweet, some peculiar, and a few are truly heartbreaking, but the common element of all is that unnameable, unfixable longing that comes upon the type of modern women in her 20’s after college and moving to the big city; after getting the job or finally quitting the job; after finding ‘the one’ or suspecting he’ll never show up….
Not surprisingly, There have been some comparisons linking The Kissing List to HBO’s The Girls, and while this is a fair parallel to draw, to me TKL has a much quieter yet harrowing sensibility. Most of the ‘girls’ in these stories are not your lovable fuck-ups, bumbling along and essentially knowing nothing, because, “come on! their dumb 20-something girls!”, but instead (with certain exceptions) most are women that seem terribly familiar, and ones that seem to be making all the right moves. Most are responsible women who still find themselves at a loss when reaching this great crossroad into adulthood.
In this book, the stories are not played up for comic effect, but instead together form a conversation on the that favorite post-graduate topic of “When am I going to get my shit together?”. And, happily with the final story Reents seems to suggest that there is light at the end of the tunnel for most of these women.
This debut effort, while being evocative of the works of Miranda July, or Sloane Crossley (and, yes, Lena Dunham) stands alone as a unique and eloquent voice, and one we will hopefully hear more from.
Note: I received this book as a giveaway from Shelfawareness