Outside of creative writing workshops, I have not been too interested in collections of short stories. That is, I wasn’t interested in short story collections until I started reading Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny.
In the eleven stories presented in Single, Carefree, Mellow, women deal with various types of love and infidelity, with a few stories featuring Maya. Examining the ways in which we interact with friends, lovers and even unwitting rivals, Heiny shows in Single, Carefree, Mellow that the light parks and dark parts of life can be overwhelming, and yet still allow for functionality.
I loved ‘That Dance you Do,’ which was basically subtitled (in my own head) ‘How to throw a successful children’s party in the suburbs while dying a little more inside each day.’ The characterizations in this one were spot-on and I could picture, very clearly, all that was happening in the course of the short story. I loved it so much that I figure it’s going to happen to me at some point, but rather than have my husband on the couch reading the Wall Street Journal, he’d probably be playing some video game that the kids couldn’t play.
I hated ‘Single, Carefree, Mellow’ because the titular story dealt with a breakup while a dog was dying–I don’t read books or see movies where pets die (I freaked during the Cohen brothers remake of True Grit a few years ago, and I don’t even adore horses!)–it’s just not me. For me, that pain is personal and best left to internal conversations. I hate that she may have gotten two dates out of the death. I cried–and it’s great when a writer can prompt real emotional response, but I think that I felt dirty afterwards. I wanted to be given a heads up so I could possibly skip it, or steel myself for the death.
Overall, Heiny’s Single, Carefree, Mellow is a solid collection of short stories, evoking emotion and true feeling and leaving a little something with every reader lucky enough to snag and enjoy a copy.
I was given the opportunity to read this in eformat in exchange for my honest review by Knopf Doubleday Publishing group. I loved this, and hope you will to. It will be available in hardcover and eformat (and even audio) from your favorite retailer when it comes out February 3, 2015.