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Going Away Shoes

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  599 ratings  ·  116 reviews
The foibles of the people in Jill McCorkle’s world are so familiar that we want nothing so much as to watch them walk into—and then get out of—life’s inevitable traps. Here, in her first collection in eight years, McCorkle collects eleven brand-new stories bristling with her characteristic combination of wit and weight.

In honeymoon shoes, mud-covered hunting boots, or gl
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Algonquin Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,399)
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Teresa
I took a class with Jill McCorkle (at the past Tennessee Williams Fest just a couple months ago) before I really read anything by her, and I immediately fell in love with her as a teacher and a person -- she's got this great vibe about her. I got a chance to speak with her when I found her alone waiting to go into a panel on the last day of the Fest and she couldn't have been more gracious.

These stories remind me of something, yet it escapes me what that something is. And while they might not be
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Nicolemauerman
Before starting this book of short stories I read the praise on the back (still have yet to see a book with horrible, yet true things on the back). The three reviewers raved about how funny and lighthearted these stories were. After reading Going Away Shoes, I am left scratching my head. Did I read the same book as the reviewers? Some of the stories were funny and others were down right depressing. I liked how the stories were connected through death, divorce, abandonment, but these topics are n ...more
Donna
The thing with short story collections is that unless you're familiar with the author, you have to be careful because you're not going to know what you're getting into. My favorite short story author is Flannery O'Connor. That woman can do no wrong with the short story. They're so dementedly elegant that you can't put them down. But she is only one of a very few whose short stories I like. The rest . . . meh.

This is one of the meh. I'd never heard of Jill McCorkle before I snagged this book at B
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Ellen
I really loved this. The epigraph is by Gloria Steinem ("If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?"), and every story in the book has a quiet feminist sensibility to it. I heard McCorkle read back in February, and I'm interested in reading more of her work.

Favorite quotes:

"This fear of nothingness is why many people stay put even when unhappy and disillusioned, daily sidestepping the problems and debris. It is why they ask the four questions again and again as they seek their own answer
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Gina
Two stars is generous for how much I hated this book. Eleven short story collection of "women and love and complications therin"-should have known by the description on the back that the writing would be choppy. Stories were random. I knew within the first story I wasn't going to enjoy this, but I suffered through a few more before throwing down the book before reading the final two. No recommendation here.
Potassium
This is a collection of short stories about a series of women across the country. As much as I usually love short stories, I was a bit unimpressed with this selection. The point of short stories, in my opinion, is to provide the reader with several in depth (but short) vignettes about various characters. I thought these stories were really boring because they skimmed the surface. All the women have something obviously wrong in their lives (divorced, cheating on their spouses, hate their kids, wh ...more
Amy
Short stories can be challenging reads. Too often I finish a short story and think “what does this mean” or I am longing for more story, or more character development. In Jill McCorkle I have found the perfect author of short stories. Her latest short story collection, Going Away Shoes, is quite simply delightful. Deftly combining wit and pathos, the stories in this collection superbly illustrate the various roles of women; single mother, daughter, sister, and second wife. McCorkle has a keen ey ...more
Claire McNeill
Jill McCorkle has a knack for unearthing the unsettling truths about domestic life: hidden desires acted upon in motel rooms, bored teens on a path of destruction, insidious lies that erode the foundations of relationships. I'm a bit confused by the reviews proclaiming this book to be lighthearted, as I found it a pretty grim examination of dysfunction and inertia in that familiar American landscape: the suburbs. Over and over, these stories looked at the way people torture each other, focusing ...more
Carla Panciera
Okay, I am late arriving to this party but thank GOD I finally read McCorkle. This book also makes me wonder why people don't read more short stories. In a world where everyone's in such a hurry, why not get your fiction in these brilliant small doses? I loved all the stories, but Surrender was especially strong -- I don't know how she does it. This story is both laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking. My favorite was Intervention. When I said to my husband, You've got to read this, he said: I a ...more
Mick
In this collection, each story focuses on a female narrator. These women are flawed and human and honest and funny; McCorkle, I feel, writes women extremely well. I adored this collection, reading one story each night before bed so that I could really savor each one, and after each ending, I inevitably let out a sigh, gushing to my husband about how good it was.

I felt a deep connection with almost every narrator, and that is not easy to establish in such a short number of pages. If you're not re
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Carin
While short story collections aren't my thing, Jill McCorkle is, and I was thinking it was kind of crazy that there are books, in my house, by one of my all-time favorite authors, which I haven't read. So I decided to tackle it.

Now, because short stories aren't my thing, they take me forever to read. I don't think you should read a collection just one after the other after the other, unless the book is actually a collection of short stories that make up a novel (like The Joy Luck Club or Olive K
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Kari
I'm generally not a reader of short story collections, and I have mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, I finish a story feeling unsatisfied and wishing to know more about the characters that I got to know so well. On the other hand, I understand short stories, from a literary perspective--how all it takes is several pages to make a point. And generally, I remember short stories long after I read them.

I was most excited to see Jill McCorkle at BEA, as I have read some of her other novels.
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Elise
Admittedly unfair, I've always compared Jill McCorkle's short stories to Lee Smith and McCorkle's work has always come up a little short (wow, that was a bad pun). Anyway, something about these stories struck a chord with me, almost seeming more real to me than the funniest Southern gal that Lee Smith has conjured in recent memory.

...

From "Midnight Clear"

The downside in incorporating knowledge and an open mind and respect for all religions in young children is the blurring of facts. Though I see
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Emily
I enjoyed McCorkle's prose and some of her observations on life as portrayed in the beings of her characters. At the same time, I can't say enjoyment is the right word to use for my thoughts on the collection as a whole. There was a certain ennui on the whole that wears in a short story collection where it wouldn't in a novel. To see one character or set of characters suffer can be enlightening, cathartic, heart-wrenching or any other number of adjectives we attribute to great literature. To see ...more
Christine
Collection of 11 short stories about women and different relationships in their lives, being a daughter, mother, wife, divorce, singleon. Each story portrays a slice of the womans life and the challenges she faces. The characters and problems are all very relatable. The stories are unrelated, yet they fit well together as they are all about the struggles of love and relationships.

The title story is a type of Cinderalla story about a single woman caring for her very ill mother, and her sisters le
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Alyssa
I enjoyed most of these stories very much when taken individually, but reading them one after the other in the context of a collection made them a bit tedious. Most of the stories centered around a sad divorced woman, so to read so many similar stories one after the other got a bit redundant. Obviously a collection should have an overarching theme that ties all the stories together, but this was a bit overkill, especially in the first half. The stories in the second half of the book had a bit mo ...more
Becky
I've been reading Jill McCorkle's books since Tending to Virginia came out in paperback in 1987. She's one of my favorite writers, whether she's writing short stories or novels. This book of short stories is as good as anything she's ever written. Her characters are heartbreaking and funny, and she writes great dialogue. The title story really will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Jennifer
The strength of a short story collection is how many stories you remember afterwards. For me there were two stand outs "PS" and "Intervention." The author's writing is solid, though some times the subject matter seemed a bit repetitive with the well-to-do wife (middle aged or older) pondering her life post-divorce, during marriage, or otherwise.

One story had an interesting take from three different POVs (a young girl, a middle aged woman embarking on an affair, and an older woman) but still man
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Melody
The last and shortest story "Me and Big Foot" is the only good story and the only reason I kept this book instead of donating it back to the same library I bought it from. All the other short stories are horribly depressing. Divorce, domestic abuse, dying spouses, terminal illnesses and more devastate the lives of all these poor innocent Southern white women and their terrible children.

I agree with several of the other readers, this is NOT a funny collection. Not even in the slightest. "Me and B
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Carly Berg
I really enjoyed this book. I read another one of her collections, Crash Diet, years ago and like that one too. For the lady baby boomers especially, she really has a way of writing everyday stories that have a deeper meaning underneath. I have two more of her short story collections ready to start on now.
booksandcarbs
This book was on my "currently reading" shelf for several months. An early story in the collection, about a grandmother and granddaughter, had me ugly crying so hard at the end that I was afraid to experience that kind of emotional annihilation in every story. I'm glad I returned to the collection though. The stories were well-crafted, the characters felt real, and the underlying theme of beauty/truth in the everyday resonated with me. Loved the story about the septic tank angel. Found one of th ...more
Wes
Shoes figure somehow in each of the 11 stories here, sometimes prominently and sometimes not. What ties these tales together, though, is McCorkle's clear-eyed evocation of romantic love in its changing forms and stages. In "Intervention," the main character frets about confronting her husband about his drinking several decades after perhaps she should have; "Driving to the Moon" finds its footing when the central character realizes that the sweet boredom of domesticity outweighs her longing for ...more
Hillary
Short stories need to grab you fast and for the most part, these did not. There were some lyrical and even haunting elements in some of these stories, and much of the writing is very evocative.
Beth
This was darker, but also funnier, than McCorkle's other work. Most of the stories dealt with regret and/or the capacity of family members and spouses to drive you completely insane (which is where the humor came in). McCorkle's writing is truthful and poignant, and I decided on five stars because I could see myself reading this over and over. Intervention is one of my all-time favorite stories, but Surrender, Another Dimension, and Magic Words were also exceptional. And finally, if you ever hav ...more
Jerry Landry
After hearing Jill McCorkle speak to the Charlotte Writers’ Club, I had to check out her work for myself. The collection was a delightful series of stories with a common theme of female main characters and their relationships, both familial and romantic. The stories that stand out the most in my mind are “Surrender,” “Another Dimension,” and “Intervention.” The characters and the plots of those three grabbed my attention the most. McCorkle talked about her inspiration for “Surrender” while speak ...more
Terry
Adult Reader Reaction: It is hard to describe my reaction to this book in a word. Each story is very well written, but none of them wowed me. That said I kept "feeling" something between Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Pros: Thought-provoking, emotion-tugging stories will keep readers thinking about events and outcomes in each of the stories in this collection.

To read our full review, go to The Reading Tub.
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Naomi
Eleven stories - based on women in various situations based on their relationships.
Deborah
OK-written but depressing stories. Something personal or heartfelt is missing: They sound like they were assignments in a creative writing class: write a story about screwed-up teenagers intersecting with unhappy suburbanites, write a story about a family with secrets, write a story about a kid who will do anything to keep his father from remarrying and the implications ... There was one story, though, that felt real to me--a woman writes a letter to her former couples therapist. It was very fun ...more
Karen
I drowned in the negativity in each short story. Many of the short stories was about being alone, divorced, ex's new wife, death, wild kids and cheating and/or wanting someone. I don't think many of the stories had a happy ending, perhaps if anything just coming to terms with a blah zay life. Needless to say, I try to finish a book even when I don't enjoy it that much. Thus I have punished myself and have not read much in the last two months and started up on crossword puzzles on my Nook. Now it ...more
Sarah Ryburn
There are some beautifully crafted stories here. Style reminds me a bit of Mary Ward Brown (whom I've recently been reading), perhaps edged with a bit of James Joyce (ala Dubliners). Most of these stories are snapshots of characters at a moment in time, and many do not satisfy the traditional expectation of plot-building-to-climax-and-resolution. Still, McCorkle uses beautiful language, simple but not stark, and doesn't shy from true empathy and compassion toward her characters and their tragedi ...more
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Five of Jill McCorkle's seven previous books have been named New York Times Notables. Winner of the New England Booksellers Award, the Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Award for Literature, she has taught writing at the University of North Carolina, Bennington College, Tufts University, and Harvard. She lives near Boston with her husband, their two children, se ...more
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