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First, Body: Stories

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  135 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews

Winner of the 1997 Whiting Writers' Award
One of Granta's "Best Young American Novelists"
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 15th 1998 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 259)
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Oct 30, 2012 TK421 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Oh where or where should I start? Should I talk about how depressing each story is? Or should I rave how wonderful Melanie Rae Thon uses words and descriptions and settings and characters to convey the perfect emotion, never going overboard, never under utilizing her talents? We’ll come back to both of those issues in a moment.

As Amanda mentioned earlier to me, the Literary Gods have been blessing me with some really amazing reads as of late. The most recent LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR N
Feb 21, 2009 Joshua rated it really liked it
I have a literary crush on Melanie Thon. She writes like an angel. Sid's moment with Gloria Luby in the collection's title story is one of my all-time favorite scenes.
Kimberly Rhoten
Jul 17, 2009 Kimberly Rhoten rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. Brutally honest. Beautiful writing style. I couldn't stop rereading each story (esp first, body).
Matt Hlinak
Mar 16, 2015 Matt Hlinak rated it it was amazing
Melanie Rae Thon is a master of both the short and long forms of fiction. Each short story in ‘First, Body’ is a miniature novel, while each chapter of ‘Sweet Hearts’ packs the punch of a prose poem. Haunting memories and soft impressions blend with gritty reality to guide her tortured characters through life on impoverished borderlands. But there is beauty in all that pain.

Matt Hlinak
Author of DoG
Mar 04, 2009 Janet rated it it was amazing
Profound, rough, human, stunning
Lolly K Dandeneau
Dec 21, 2014 Lolly K Dandeneau rated it really liked it
By far the story in this collection that grabbed me hardest was Father, Lover, Deadman, Dreamer. "I learned that the first lie is silence." What a powerful and fitting line for this one! The girl in the story went from carelessly fun to damaged over a mistake. More than anything it exposes the heavy weight of choices, like dragging a dead rotting horse behind you for all eternity, or a "deadman". Melanie Rae Thon creates stories that grieve for their characters and it's never light or sweet. I l ...more
Nov 26, 2008 dara rated it it was ok
Recommended to dara by: Holly, but because she didn't like it and wanted my opinion
I read this because Holly read and didn't like it. She found the stories confusing and wanted my opinion. Overall, the stories were more than decent--better than the average, but without being especially memorable. (It probably didn't help any that I've read a lot of short stories lately and was prepared to take a break from them for awhile when Holly pushed this collection on me.) I didn't have much trouble understanding the stories after the first one, which made more sense to me in retrospect ...more
Laura Neu
Oct 08, 2013 Laura Neu rated it it was amazing

This book is stunning. Melanie Rae Thon's prose is tight, her use of words is seamless. The language is vivid, fierce, and breathtakingly powerful. Thon writes with a kind of fluidity and lyricism I have never before seen outside of poetry. These stories are raw humanity. Each warrants multiple close readings, and every time I read them I pulled something new. The characters are sympathetic, their roles, decisions, and trials are real. Thon leaves no stone of human nature unturned, and hides beh
Dec 18, 2014 Brooke rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

First, Body is a series of beautifully written, devastatingly gorgeous short stories about topics such as race, addition, love, and violence. It's about broken families, destroyed lives, and death, but most of all life. The stories are brutal and haunting, and Thon is clearly a gifted writer.
Dec 09, 2013 Krysten rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-starz
HOLY GOD these stories are painfully beautiful.

I'm outraged that I never heard of Melanie Rae Thon until this summer, when my husband read "Xmas, Jamaica Plain" for a class. He told me to read it, and it left me in ruins, so obviously I had to find the book it's from.

There is no justice in the universe. Writing this good actually exists. People this talented are real. And they're not the authors you've heard of. Outrageous.

These stories are brutal and raw yet subtle and lovely and they are so g
Roy Kesey
Jun 17, 2013 Roy Kesey rated it really liked it
The title story, overwhelmingly good, dense as diamond, lyrical, heart-stabbing. Continuing good throughout, though occasionally repetitive in tricks and phrasing. And I'd swear “Xmas, Jamaica Plain” has been reworked from the BASS version--the extraordinary jagged edges feel slightly rounded off. Still and all, awfully good.
Kenny Chaffin
Feb 03, 2013 Kenny Chaffin marked it as to-read
I just read the title story of this collection in the Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction 1999 and man was I blown away. Enough to look her up and to read "Letters in the Snow" in the 2006 O Henry Awards. I love what I found in these two stories! And am looking forward to reading more of her work!

Apr 14, 2010 Ursula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great story collection. unfortunately someone had ripped out a few pages so I didn't get to finish all the stories completely. very powerful writing. I'd be interested to read more of this author to see whether she always rights about the same subject matter.
Apr 17, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, arc, short-stories
A collection of short stories that is a bit gritty, a bit painful, a bit revealing, and overall feels really real.
Feb 18, 2008 Kami rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book of short stories I've read. I learn so much from her about specificity, subtly, and the careful use of language.
Jul 22, 2008 Angela rated it it was amazing
A wonderful short story collection. These stark and honest stories will cut to the bone and leave a scar.
Sep 23, 2014 Derek rated it it was amazing
Great collection of stories. Well-written and each unique in their style and characters.
Joe Wilkins
Jan 11, 2008 Joe Wilkins rated it it was amazing
Disturbing. The language here is as gorgeous and haunting as I've ever come across.
Oct 23, 2008 Diana added it
I love this collection -- heartbreaking and breathtaking and brutal.
Jul 21, 2008 Elise marked it as to-read
Recommended by Aimee Bender.
Jun 12, 2011 Drusilla rated it it was amazing
Loved it.
Anya Horman
Anya Horman marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2016
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Jess B
Jess B rated it it was ok
Feb 07, 2016
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Jan 11, 2016
Karina Vertlib
Karina Vertlib marked it as to-read
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Kaitlin McMichael
Kaitlin McMichael marked it as to-read
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Oct 06, 2015
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Melanie Rae Thon is a Professor of English at the University of Utah.
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