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Touchy Subjects

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  614 ratings  ·  94 reviews

In this sparkling collection of nineteen stories, the bestselling author of Slammerkin returns to contemporary affairs, exposing the private dilemmas that result from some of our most public controversies. A man finds God and finally wants to father a child—only his wife is now forty-two years old. A coach’s son discovers his sexuality on the football field. A repressed yo

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Had this out of the library for a while, dipping into it off and on, hoping I'd maybe get into it. Answer: no. The stories feel totally mundane, non-revelatory. They don't have the punchy power that a short story should have (in my opinion and to my taste). And now there's a book I want more in at the library, and I need to make space on my card. 'bye, Emma Donoghue.
I absolutely adore Short Story collections by fantastic authors. I've loved Ms. Donoghue's writing since I first picked up a copy of Slammerkin all those years ago and I was thrilled when I stumbled across this little collection.

There are 19 stories tucked into this little gem. Some are better than others, in my opinion, but that made it all the more enjoyable. The characters varied, moving from a high powered business-woman who's willing to do anything it takes to have a child, to a bitter craw
Giant Bolster
This book is made up of short stories about ordinary people caught in unexpected situations and how they react to them. Filled with self-deprecating humour, the stories poke innocent fun at the cute and loveable characters who find themselves in helpless circumstances and awkwardly fumble to cope with or escape their predicaments.

For example, in ‘expecting’, a stranger misheard that a woman is pregnant. In that fleeting moment, the woman thinks it is not necessary to correct the perception of so
Some of these stories absolutely slew me-- I read them over and over, at home, on the beach, and out loud to friends. Donoghue takes the familiar (romance, domesticity) and reveals the unfamiliar hidden within those everyday situations.

Her characters include heterosexual couples, lesbian and gay couples, single-businesswomen-seeking-sperm, evangelical Christians, and people who just really love dogs; all of these are treated with honest affection, making their stories relatable. Had I known the
Elaine Burnes
I hadn’t read any Donoghue, so thought a collection of short stories would be a good introduction and safer than investing in a novel (burned by Sarah Waters, I won’t assume a mainstream writer will necessarily be good).

These are terrific. If there had been more lesbian stories, it would have gotten the full five stars. I was disappointed by that at first, so flipped through and read all the lesbian ones first. Charmed, I went back to read the rest and found no lack of interest. Even the ones wi
If you liked the movie The Kids are All Right, try this set of short stories about relationships and families by the British lesbian author Emma Donoghue. Divided into categories like birth and death, this collection includes two stories that were so touching and poignant that I almost couldn't stand it: in one, a woman finds herself accidentally browsing in the maternity section of a department store, and, flustered, pretends that she is pregnant when an elderly gentleman congratulates her. In ...more
Very good collection of stories. An easy, quick read, but there is some real power in the characters and relationships captured in these little tales. The stories ranged from what at first struck me as awfully "traditional family" centred stories, with lots of babies (although even those had a few twists), to a section called "desire" which included several queer/GLBT stories which were wonderful. I continue to love Donoghue's writing and will keep reading whatever she puts out.
Jill Furedy
This collection started off strong, for me. The delay in knowing what was happening in that first hotel room (between a woman and her friend's husband) intrigued me. The second story was less intriguing, but the awkardness of the situation (a woman mistakenly identified as pregnant) did make me squirm and want to yell at the main character. The last three stories, the Death section, I found my interest dwindling, but for the middle stories, I mostly came out in favor of Donaghue's voice and stor ...more
In my eyes, Emma Donoghue can do very little wrong. This themed collection (babies, domesticity, strangers, desire and death) feels like a chat with a good friend. Donoghue does great dialogue, and her situations are deeply realistic. I can see myself picking this collection up to return to a few of the stories again and again.
I thought this started really strongly with stories under the category of birth. I could particularly relate to "Do they know it's Christmas?" But from there it was a disappointing anti-climax. While I understand the flow of ending with death stories, none were particularly poignant so it was a flat method with which to finish the collection.

The very strong homosexual content had me googling the author... All I really wanted was to be immersed in a series of fictional short stories for 10 minut
Emma Donoghue's Touchy Subjects found its way on ipad accidentally. Initially, I was searching for her popular novel, Room, and in my quest stumbled upon this compilation of short stories. It is written touching exactly on what you might consider touchy subjects divided up in to five sections: babies, domesticity, strangers, desire and death. Some of these topics make people skin literally shutter, itch, and crawl. Emma explores a world that is so personal that you find it almost intriguing grab ...more
A collection of short stories from Emma Donoghue that I enjoyed. The nineteen stories are divided into five segments: Babies, Domesticity, Strangers, Desire and Death. Babies get the lions share of the proceedings, with six stories, followed by Death with four. My favorite segment, given my sometimes-morbidity, was Death. I enjoyed all stories within it, with Necessary Noise, a story of two young sisters faced with the prospect of their younger brother's overdose, being my favorite.

My absolute
Ruth Hastings
NOT for RS!

I was on the lookout for an audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work and spotted this one. I grabbed it as I loved Room...wouldn't normally chose short stories.

I thought the first story was hilarious, I gasped, laughed, my toes curled, I cringed.

Can't say the same about all the stories, some didn't grab my attention as much as others, but I loved the diversity and the subjects it covered!

Great idea for a book, and would make a great book club discussion...unfortunately def
Sudha Murali
Frankly, I did not get this book at all. It is a collection of short stories - and pointless ones at that.

I like that the author was able to write stories around subjects that one wouldn't even count as a subject - and therein lies the problem. There was some humor and the stories were poignant in some places but after finishing every story - EVERY story - I kept coming back to the same question - SO WHAT ????

The ending to every story was un-fulfilling - I'm not asking for a big bang or a twist
I took this out of the library because it was Emma Donoghue. I really wanted to read her latest "Frog Music," which was unavailable. Some of the short stories were really good, but most I found to be just OK. I think I may just bite the bullet and take out "Slammerkin," the historical novel that made her famous.
I've been seduced! Emma Donoghue won me over on the short story issue. Usually don't like them - really liked these. It probably helped that they were arranged by theme, so the first several related to one other at least that much. But really it was the way she wrote them and the quirky angles she chose on common experiences such as pregnancy, parenting, encounters with strangers. Not to mention the range of her imagination. Also good that it was a whole book of them, as my basic short story pro ...more
This is a 3.5 from me.

I like to inhabit the worlds that Donoghue creates in her stories. You generally know how the stories will wind up fairly early on, but that is not the point. What is far more interesting are the set-ups for each little world. Writing this a month and a half after reading the book, I would say the stories that really stick out in my head are "The Man Who Wrote on Beaches," "The Sanctuary of Hands," and "Speaking in Tongues."

In fact, I think "Speaking in Tongues" may be the
Full of interesting, engaging stories about the small, private struggles of ordinary individuals, Touchy Subjects is most successful in exploring human frailty and the self-doubt and constant revaluation we all go through. But this impact is lessened by the thematic arrangement of the stories into categories – Birth through Death. The strongest stories are upfront and I was rather disappointed that the entirely of the Desire section explores homosexuality to the exclusion of all other themes tha ...more
Esther Bos
A book of short stories. Some are very good, some are just so-so. I tired of them before reaching the end of the book.
Sharon Archer
I really don't care for short stories...but these were mostly very good and some were downright amusing.
Penny Little
Some stories are better than others but all take a wry look at subjects not usually talked about. Interesting to read.
elizabeth tobey
It took me a while to get through all the stories in this book. At first, I was a bit put off because the way they are collected, it felt like every tale was going to be a slightly sad book about or around pregnancy/parenthood. I was glad when it branched out but I can't, for the life of me, remember a single story well enough to tell you which was my favorite. I think the first and the last are the only two that still pop - but the only one I'd truly recommend was the first. Still, Emma is a gr ...more
Sonja Trbojevic
My least favourite of her story collections, but nevertheless enjoyable
Clivemichael Justice
Appropriately titled group of short stories. Expressive and character driven providing enough balance with interest and discomfort to continue reading.
Interesting collection of stories. Not comparable to Room but enjoyed none the less love her variety. I love Alice Munro and would say this has similar leanings...
Katherine Williams
Great book! I don't usually like short stories (as they're finished too quickly, without enough plot development). Having enjoyed Donoghue's Room, I picked Touchy Subjects up at my local library, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Each story stands on its own, but the book is grouped into three thematically related sections: birth, strangers, death (there may be more, but I forget). This is smart--the connections are not always what you'd think!
Well written, with good prose and idiomatic shifts.
Kendra saunders
I went into this book with expectations (which I normally try not to do), I had heard so much about it. I had heard that the stories were addictive, had the WOW factor and had the ability to make your skin crawl... I unfortunately didn't feel any of that. sure there were a couple of stories I liked enough, such as, 'Touchy Subjects', 'Through The Night' and 'Speaking in Tongues'. But Overall I thought the collection was a lot weaker than I had expected.
I feel like I grew up with Emma Donoghue, and in a way I did since we're the same age. She's one of the first lezbo authors I read. With each book I watched her become stronger as a writer...and then there was Slammerkin...which is a must read. This collection of short stories is brilliant, and every one is raw and reeks of humanity. I loved it. "Pluck" is my favorite and I know I will reread it over and over.
Short stories. I had to stop reading the first one because I was on the tram and laughing till the tears came. It was writen deadpan, about a man donating his sperm to his wife's best friend. Excruciatingly accurate protrayal of the embarrassment and ludicrousness of the situation. An excellent collection of stories about everyday events. Often however, the endings didn't stand up to the rest of the story.
I'd pretty much given up on short story collections. Something about breaking concentration every 10-15 pages and starting again was trying my patience. But I liked the homespun and dare I say "female" quality of these stories - a lighter, less accomplished Carol Shields, a lesbian Laurie Colwin? The main stumble were in the lesbian erotica stories which just seemed awkward and cringe-worthy.
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Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of ...more
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