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Half in Love: Stories

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  778 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Fourteen remarkable stories that combine strong Western settings with a subtle and distinct female voice. This critically celebrated debut collection marks the exciting beginning of prize-winner Meloy’s promising career.

Lean and controlled in their narration, abundant and moving in their effects, Maile Meloy’s stories introduce a striking talent. Most are set in the modern
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 17th 2003 by Scribner (first published July 8th 2002)
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Ally Armistead
Dec 04, 2011 Ally Armistead rated it really liked it
"Half in Love" will always remain one of my absolute most-favorite short story collections. Ranging from WW II England to Montana ranch country to American suburbia, "Half in Love" explores just that, the nature of love between strangers, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and sons.

Of all the stories, the most powerful (for this reader anyway) is "Red," the story of an American soldier in WW II England who is so desperate for warmth and beauty that he tries to "extract" some mea
Mar 08, 2011 Catherine rated it it was ok
There was a time when I enjoyed stark, skeletal stories like these; now I find them more withholding than "lean and composed." But that's just me.
Apr 07, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
This fine collection of stories is set mostly in Montana and were originally published in periodicals such as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Ontario Review. Many have the sharply detailed yet emotionally elusive quality of New Yorker fiction, for example the first two stories, "Tome" and "Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976."

In the first, a lawyer must deal with a disabled client who takes hostage a young employee of the state agency that has handled his case. The ironic details
Feb 22, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
I will be honest and tell you that I requested books by Maile Meloy from my library because I adore Colin Meloy's singing and lyrics. Even his banter with the crowd during a concert is amusing and endearing.

Anyway, uh, right, Maile Meloy. Usually I look forward to short stories, but after the first two or three in a book, they all go downhill. The first story, "Tome", was about a lawyer who went to help her client in a hostage situation. The second was a teeny bit contrived, about a man who rea
I don't have high expectations, really. I mean, look at my track record...I'm easy to please. Yet, I could not find one story in this collection that I liked. Although beautifully written, each story is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Also, I don't always need to have a happy ending, but I do require purpose in a story. A reason to turn the page. Instead, what I got were sad, random glimpses into people's lives for no apparent reason than to show that's it's tough all over.
Kim Hooper
Feb 16, 2015 Kim Hooper rated it it was amazing
Here's the thing: For a while, I was off short story collections, the way you're off fish for a while after your favorite market forgot to de-bone it. I read the ones that got all the accolades and thought, "I don't get it." Meaning, I don't get the stories and I don't get the hype. Lots of short story collections are over my head. They seem abstract and pretentious to me. But, I loved Maile Meloy's "Liars and Saints" so figured I'd give her stories a try. I'm glad I did. Her stories are real, h ...more
Mar 05, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
These stories are not as refined or as perfect as Meloy's novels, but they are just as beautiful. Almost all of them take place in Montana or other similar barren, solitary locations; all are haunting and somehow frightening. She is so spare, so simple in her writing, but in a way that makes her so very powerful. This woman knows how to make you FEEL it in your gut. It's incredible, really.
May 28, 2016 DilanAc rated it really liked it
It is hard to believe that this is a debut collection of stories. They are moving and powerful. The Western setting reminds me of Annie Proulx.

"Four Lean Hounds" is haunting. "Paint" is excruciating to read. Even on the second time around, I could barely stand it.
Some of the other stories that take place outside the west like "Red" and "Aqua Boulevard" I found weaker. They didn't feel quite as connected to the emotional content of the story, but still an impressive first collection. One story th
Dec 06, 2007 Britta rated it it was ok
"She is beautiful, and sparkles like jewels when she is wearing none: skin like gold, white teeth and clear blue eyes."

"Sometimes my son has a face like a storm, and then it clears, and again he is the most attractive child I have ever seen."
Jul 09, 2007 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Meh. Not really a fan. I read *rave* reviews but I much prefer Pam Houston over this author. I found myself bored with the short stories. A small collection of pages, yet I didn't even feel like reading the last story.
Jan 01, 2016 Michael rated it it was ok
I didn't care for this and am having trouble coming up with good reasons why. The author is a talented writer and the stories present interesting situations - a soldier in World War II on the night before he is to cross into France, a group of travelers stranded and one of them is a truck driver who has just been involved in a fatal accident, a man coming to the realization that his wife is seriously ill. Yet, I couldn't really get into them. Maybe it was the sameness of them - the desolate land ...more
Dec 24, 2011 Renee rated it liked it
Meloy makes me brave about my own writing. She writes elegant single scenes that contain a whole world's worth of story just under the surface. Somebody told me once that single-scene stories never get published and I wish I'd known about Meloy back then--because she does it so well. I had to return to the book to the library, so apologies for not naming the specific story here, but she tells one story about a couple that goes to ask a man if they can have some sheet rock from his property. In t ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Lawrence rated it liked it
I'm guess I'm a sucker for stories that an a melancoly undertone to them and all of these stories do. Meloy, sister of The Decemberists' lead, can capture that feeling, clearly and intensely, in the stories she writes. And, the stories in this collection focus on thoughts, feelings, reactions, a very interior focus. The problem with the stories comes in exactly how to end them. For me, only a few of the endings works naturally given the flow of the story's specific details, focus. "Aqua Boulevar ...more
Lori Weir
Feb 27, 2012 Lori Weir rated it really liked it
Fourteen great stories mostly set in the American ranching west with female protagonists. Each story is raw with emotion and really allows you to understand the character's thought process in a short space of time. Meloy never shies away from the gruesome side of life, the natural turn of events, telling things the way they are, in a way that most people would run away from. However, Meloy does this in such a way that you cannot help but turn the next page and see what she has in store for you n ...more
May 11, 2015 Henry rated it it was amazing
The first collection by one of my favorite short story writers. All the stories move along well; the dialogue is real and never stilted, the description of countryside is adept and not intrusive and for the most part the stories end with a perfect pitch of ambiguity. Her characters are young, old, American, European, smart, stubborn.....varied and crisp. Enjoy this and her other collection, "Both Ways Is The Way I Want It".
If you're white, and you're not rich or poor but somewhere in the middle, it's hard to have worse luck than to be born a girl on a ranch.

I prefer Maile Meloy's later short story collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, but this one still has some gems. "Ranch Girl" is one of my very favorite short stories, and even though it's written in second person, it doesn't feel gimmicky. Meloy's not a writer to use gimmicks, actually. Her writing is very controlled, sparse almost, and deceptively
Joan Colby
Aug 13, 2010 Joan Colby rated it it was amazing
A remarkable collection of short stories. Meloy is not afraid to exhibit her versatility; though many of the stories take place in the west, the voices and situations vary with narrators of either sex and widely divergent backgrounds. Meloy treats her subjects with subtlety but unlike so many other current short fiction writers, she invests her tales with moral centers, which is not to say that she is a moralist, far from it, but that she sees her fiction as having a core question, rather than m ...more
Oct 30, 2013 Johnalene rated it really liked it
Reading Maile Meloy makes me feel like I can write. Not because writing is easy - it isn't - and not because her stories are overly simple. Instead, reading Maile Meloy reminds me that we all have stories to tell. They don't have to be profound. They don't have to be complex. They only have to be true, in the sense that in their retelling, they are faithful to what it was we experienced or witnessed, no more, no less. Like 'lagom' - which I feel like Meloy has incorporated a lot of in these stor ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Amelia rated it it was ok
I struggle with short stories because I feel like they must all have some deeper meaning I don't understand. What was the author trying to say in those ten pages? That being said, some of these stories had more of an impact on me than others. Some I really didn't see the point. Overall though I enjoyed that the stories tended to be melancholy (some a bit too melancholy) and that many of them were set out West, which was a nice change of pace.
Clair Belmonte
Feb 16, 2016 Clair Belmonte rated it it was amazing
The brevity of these stories is as breathtaking as the content. With emotional depth and beautiful Montana settings, this book killed me. Each story was heart wrenching and the characters - though strangers - were endearing in their flaws. Read this. Love this.
Erin Quinney
Dec 12, 2015 Erin Quinney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short stories are my favorite and Maile Meloy writes them well. The whole collection is solid but there were some especially great ones: "Ranch Girl," "Kite Whistler Aquamarine," and "Paint."

I can't wait to read more Meloy.
May 04, 2015 Rich rated it really liked it
Maile Meloy writes beautifully. This collection of shorts are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, sometimes within a single tale. Highly recommended!
Feb 24, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
There were a few underwhelming stories, but overall I really enjoyed this collection. Meloy has a great range; not only does she write men and women equally well, she also does well with a variety of ages in her characters.

Standout stories, for me:
Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976
Garrison Junction
Aqua Boulevard
Last of the White Slaves

She's just one of those authors whose writing leaves a lump in your throat.

I think I like her more recent collection, *Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It," better, but
May 22, 2014 Tiffany rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
(Short story collection) Not my favorite Maile Meloy, but I still like it. This collection is full of stories that pack and emotional punch.
Lindsey Sloan
Nov 17, 2010 Lindsey Sloan rated it really liked it
Certainly as solid as her latest collection. The stories in "Half in Love" are subtly heartbreaking. The sentiment is so well done that it almost blindsides you; refer to "Kite Whistler Aquamarine" for the saddest line about a horse you will ever imbibe. The Montana stories in this collection bring to mind the Proulx collections. Favorite story: "Last of the White Slaves", for the line: "So, no love to you except the old love, and that was real enough."

A close second from "Thirteen & A Half"
Feb 18, 2015 Sam rated it it was ok
As an East Coaster and uncurable snob most of this was inaccessible but the Ranch Girl story was beautiful.
Leslie Jamison
Jan 23, 2010 Leslie Jamison rated it really liked it
I should start by saying that I genuinely respect Maile Meloy’s prose and love her wisdom about people in general (it seems) and her characters in particular. That said, I feel like her later stories are better than her first ones. What was razor in Both Ways felt vaguer in Half in Love. Characters faded into the extremity of their situations, winter storms and rugged plains. Some set-ups (the disgruntled man takes a hostage, the dead man was cheating on his wife) felt overly conceived of and th ...more
Dec 25, 2012 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
I usually don’t enjoy short stories because it feels like there isn’t enough there to be able to really sink into them, but that isn’t the case for Half in Love. Though in the short story format Maile Meloy must sketch her characters quickly, she is so good at conjuring fully formed people that almost from the first paragraph of most of these stories I felt that I both knew the characters well and wanted to hear more about them. Her settings, from the ranches of Montana to wartime Europe, are ev ...more
Amother Meloy book of stories that I read but don't remember
Nov 07, 2013 Dave rated it really liked it
Maile Meloy is an amazing short story writer and she owns Montana as much as any living writer owns any other land. The first five stories in this book fit with the best of her work in Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It amongst the greatest in modern fiction. Meloy falls off a bit in her journeys to Europe in this book, and then recovers with the haunting "Paint".

I've now read all four of Meloy's adult fiction books, and with one 5-star and two 4-stars amongst them I will certainly read a fifth
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Maile Meloy was born in Helena, Montana, in 1972. A Family Daughter is her third book. Her short stories have been published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Her first story collection, Half in Love, received the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters , the John C. Zacharis Award from Ploughshares, and the PEN/Malamud Award. Her first novel, Liars and Saint ...more
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