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Could You Be With Her Now: Two Novellas
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Could You Be With Her Now: Two Novellas

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  52 ratings  ·  20 reviews
This collection of two novellas showcases Jen Michalski’s varying skills as a writer. In “I Can Make It to California Before It’s Time for Dinner,” Michalski examines the dangers of living in a world while having a compromised reality. In a first-person narrative, the reader follows Jimmy, a mentally challenged fourteen-year-old boy who accidentally kills a neighborhood gi ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Dzanc Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Bud Smith
Could You Be With Her Now by Jen Michalski is an excellent collection of 2 novellas. The first novella is called I Can make it to California by Dinner Time--about a mentally handicapped boy named Jimmy who strangles a young girl and goes on the run through America with a truck driver who personifies "stranger danger". The second novella May-September, focuses on a love that grows between a 20 something girl named Alice and a seventy year old Sandra, and the intimacy of a romantic relationship ac ...more
Ampersand Books
Reviewed by C.L. Bledsoe

This review originally appeared in The Ampersand Review

Could You Be With Her Now is a book about love – not the greedy, angry, lost love so often written about, but (at least with the second novella) actual, heart-fluttering, heart-breaking love. It’s refreshing to read about love written honestly and faithfully, and Michalski’s prose is beautiful enough to capture it.

The first novella is I Can Make It To California Before It’s Time for Dinner, which is the story of Jimmy
Peter Tieryas
Incredibly haunting pair of novellas that must be read. Full review at HTMLGiant.

"Stephen King called novellas an “ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic.” In Jen Michalski’s Could You Be With Her Now, she gives us two very different samples of the republic. “May-September” is about a May-December romance and is lyrically written with a fascinating sensuality exploring relationships through the rhythms of music and stories. “I Can Make It To California Before It’s Time For Dinner
I need to stop reading books at the gym. I had to pretend my tears were sweat.

Jen Michalski embodies the voice of a story, emotionally invests the reader, then breaks her heart. Love is a nuanced experience expressed through action. Michalski is similar to Alice Munro in that she makes an ordinary struggle extraordinary.
Melanie Page
I must confess: I didn't read the back of the book first, as I knew that I wanted to read Jen Michalski's Could You Be With Her Now because she is my lovely editor over at jmww and kindly sent me her book. Could You Be With Her Now is two novellas, and I'm really pleased with that alone. I've read short story collections that end with a novella, but because collections are the majority in small press publishing right now, I've grown a bit tired of them; Could You Be With Her Now was a welcome de ...more
from author/publisher

Read 1/15/13 - 1/16/13
3 Stars - Recommended to fans of the emotionally charged and slightly taboo
Pgs: 180
Publisher: Dzanc Books

While reading Jen Michalski's Could You Be With Her Now, I found myself oscillating between a slew of emotions, which, for me, is the mark of an talented writer. Unafraid of the strange and uncomfortable, Jen pushes and pounds against the walls that separate the acceptable from the unacceptable with these two novellas.

In I Can Make it to California
Michalski does not disappoint with these two novellas. I can see how they relate, but they are such different stories. Michalski really has quite a range. I still struggle with which I like better. The first has a wonderful way of working with tension, but the second demonstrates wonderful emotional control. I guess I just have to decide that I like the entire thing equally.
Good read.Well written novellas.
What made these two novellas such a thrill to read were the risks the author took throughout the book. The first novella (I Can Make It to California Before It's Time for Dinner): It's always a dicey proposition to write from the point of view of a mentally challenged person, but Michalski really forces the reader into this boy's head, makes you see the world through his eyes and deal with the harrowing situations he's placed in. You believe these things can happen, and by the end you're just sp ...more
This book consists of two discrete novellas, so the three stars is a split rating, with four stars for MAY-NOVEMBER and two stars for I CAN MAKE IT TO CALIFORNIA BEFORE IT'S TIME FOR DINNER.

MAY-NOVEMBER is a lovely, gentle and quiet story of an unexpected romance between an older widow and a much younger woman. The narration moves easily, almost effortlessly, between the inner thoughts of the two women, beautifully illustrating their attraction to each other yet also their sad realization that t
Sally Kitter
I have received a free copy of this book through a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.
This book consists of two novellas in one.
Reading "I Can Make It To California Before It's Time For Dinner" was like a punch to the gut that left me gasping for air, absolutely heartbreaking and a little bit disturbing. A modern day "Of Mice and Men", the author Jen Michalski shows immense talent writing from the perspective of a fourteen year old mentally challenged boy.
"May-September" is graceful and devastating.
Clare O'Beara
This short book is a combination of two novellas. The first story, 'I Can Make it to California Before it's Time for Dinner' tells of an teenaged boy with learning difficulties who goes on an impromptu journey. He gets blamed for a girl's death, then later is taken advantage of by an older man. The boy, Jimmy Dembrowski, is well realised. He half-understands what goes on around him and of course doesn't understand strange people's motivations. However I didn't much like the story, unlike 'Flower ...more
Jen Michalski’s Could You Be With Her Now, a book of two novellas, is one of the most writerly books I’ve come across in a while. What I mean is, she gave a lot of thought to how she wanted to write these stories and then executed them so beautifully that the result is a piece of art to be admired as it is absorbed.

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The novellas stay with you long after you've finished. In fact, that is perhaps the quality that is so special about Jen's work. Her stories, her characters, become part of you; they don't release their grip. There is something so personal in her writing, so intimate. Reading these two novellas makes me very excited for her novel.
This book comprises two novellas, and although they were not what I was expecting, they were surprisingly sad and haunting. The first, "I Can Make It to California Before It's Time for Dinner," is about a mentally challenged boy named Jimmy who accidentally strangles a neighborhood girl he thinks is his favorite TV character, Megan. His older brother Josh helps him run away from the police, and Jimmy winds up getting a ride with Ed, a trucker. Although the reader knows that Ed is nothing but bad ...more
I chose this as my book club pick, thinking two short stories would be a good choice for those traveling during our spring break. The premise of the first story is intriguing and drew me in. Most unfortunately, both stories are pure pornography, and not even tasteful porn! I made my way through the first story (a young mentally challenged boy is molested by a truck driver) because I was curious to know the consequences of the boy's original action (murder). Well, the story abruptly ended with th ...more
This book was 2 short stories. The first one was really good, but the ending felt a little abrupt. I know it is a supposed to be a short story, but it just felt like there was all this stuff leading up to the end and then.....nothing. But otherwise I really liked it. The second story was good, the only thing I was not fond of was that none of the conversations between people had the quotation marks around them, so at times it was a little hard to follow. But overall, it was a good story.
Phuong Huynh
One novella (May-September) is as beautiful and lyrical as the other (I Can Make It to California Before It's Time for Dinner) is disturbing. Perhaps what's most remarkable is how Michalski is able to inhibit the pysches of people, from 14-year-old developmentally disabled boys to 67-year-old women. Even as language plays a great role in these novellas, character is always at the heart of Jen Michalski's work.
I almost threw this book away. A passage in the first Novella "I Can make it to California Before It's Time for Dinner" was much too graphic. It would have been much more powerful with implication and not literal detail. That said, it was a very original storyline that was otherwise hard to put down.
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bio: Jen Michalski is the author of the novels The Tide King (Black Lawrence Press, 2013), The Summer She Was Under Water (Queens Ferry Press, 2016), the couplet of novellas Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books 2013), and two collections of fiction (From Here, Aqueous Books 2014 and Close Encounters, So New 2007). She lives in Baltimore, where she runs the reading series Starts Here! and the jou ...more
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