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Instant Love

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  418 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
“We are all walking around this city with our hearts sadly swimming in our chests, like dying fish on the surface of a still pond. It’s enough to make you give up entirely.” —from Instant Love

But we don’t give up. We keep trying. We’re either too stupid to learn from our mistakes or we honestly believe that the next time will be different; it’s hard to say which. Driven by
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Crown (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 13, 2012 karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hey-shorty
i had never thought much of this book. sure, i had seen it around, the way you see things,but short stories about the love lives of women?? barf city. i don't read chick lit because i don't find it particularly interesting: shopping, looking for a husband, planning a family- none of these things are "me." but when i went to the adam levin reading with oriana, jami attenberg was also reading. she read a portion of the first short story in this collection, and everything i am made of responded wit ...more
Karen wrote a review for this book, and things to really heated in the discussion that followed. I'm not looking to re-open that can of worms, but I thought of it because the term that sparked off the nonsense argument was 'chick-lit'.

Chick-lit is as meaningless of a genre as grunge was. It's a marketing term being used to sell some similar things after one or more things got really popular and the companies responsible for putting out more things are trying to capitalize on sales by selling ot
I've been holding on to a rather sickening view of a relationship as being like two seeds planted next to each other, roots and branches entwining as time passes. You grow together! Awwwwww....

I'm not the adventurous kind of gal, to go out and effectively burst my own bubbles as they form, so books like this are probably good for me. Don't get me wrong, while I was a late bloomer to just about everything, that made my mistakes HUGE* when I finally did venture out beyond my homework and the famil
Sep 11, 2013 Oriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
You should probably just go read Karen's review, or Eh's, because I have a head like a sieve, and it's been over a month since I read this, and I forgot all the things I'd wanted to say about it.

But I will say this: It's good. I liked it a bunch. I like when people do the interlocking-stories thing (although no one does it better than Daniel Handler in the unbelievably spectacular Adverbs ). I mean, the reason I don't love short stories is because they're so damn short, but then if you put a b
Jul 09, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will read everything that Jami publishes.
Dec 11, 2014 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bailed
I like short stories, and it seemed like 95% of the reviews for this were promising. Fictional but also extremely realistic. I got through maybe 3 stories before I just started skimming and ended up slamming the book shut halfway through. Granted, maybe the heartless depiction of dating and physical attraction rubbed wrong against my admittedly romantic side, but good lord. I did not feel inspired by any of these women through the choices they made or the men they dated. There was no retribution ...more
Jun 26, 2008 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loooooooved this book of short fiction, luffed it, luv. It has a great way of weaving a large cast of characters in and out of initially unrelated stories. Each piece has its own momentum and emotion. As you get farther along it becomes (became for me at least) an anticapatory pleasure to remember the previous characters, their relationships and their lives. This then caused me to continuously recall the early stories. Brilliant idea and execution. Also a few special moments of agonizing truth ...more
Dec 01, 2011 Cassey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is fantastic. I love that as you go the stories are loosely intertwined. A sister mentioned becomes the main character of the next topic - but rarely though names but through incredibly vivid, detailed, descriptions of personality. Unique, true, modern, and just plain excellent. Highly recommended collection of short stories.
Mar 04, 2009 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just did not find any of the woman in these stories sympathetic. They all left me feeling that their inability to find and or keep love was their own fault. The female characters all seemed to me to be basically the same person over and over again and the men were treated very superficially.
Sep 16, 2016 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one frustrated me at first because I was too focused on remembering which characters were which and how they played off of each other. Once I let that go, I really enjoyed the individual stories. I discovered Jami Attenberg randomly through the Lenny Letter and I'm glad I did! Looking forward to reading more of her work.
Mar 02, 2014 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one could be a quick read, but it wasn't for me -- mostly because I didn't want it to be.

My first introduction to Jami Attenberg's work was her most recent novel The Middlesteins, which I read last February. Instant Love is several years older, but the qualities I found most attractive in Attenberg's writing are already in evidence here. She has a real talent for rendering beautiful the ugly, for imbuing the grotesque with humanity, for illuminating the quiet, dark moments that pass by most
Jami Attenberg takes the essence of what it is to love someone and be loved by someone and makes you feel empathy for the characters in her stories.

While I enjoyed the intertwining stories, I felt at times lost and at other times confused by what was going on. I was wondering why some characters were mentioned in some stories in which that had nothing to do with the plot of the story and gave no insight into the story. I think that at times she tried too hard to intertwine the stories, when they
Lorie Eckert
Is this a group of short stories intended to stand alone and apart or a novel made up of short stories that intersect to varying degrees? Either way, all the stories dealt with "lookin' for love in all the wrong places." And, some of the "looking for love" was a little over the top for me. I think a younger audience would enjoy this more than I did (at the ripe old age of 61). Even so, it was an interesting enough read and an author really has to tell an awful story to get less than 3 stars from ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Tamsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Let me introduce you, she thinks. Here I am."

I finished this with my coffee, wrapped up in a blanket as the rain poured down - a dog at my feet. I knew Jami Attenberg would be an amazing short-story writer. I read her latest, The Middlesteins, and there's this beautiful short story in the middle of the novel. It's told from a group perspective that is new to the reader, and it's more poignant and powerful than the novel itself. As soon as I finished The Middlesteins, I put this collection, Inst
Nov 30, 2007 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is tired of tidy endings
This book is a collection of short stories, linked by three women characters--Holly, Maggie, and Sarah Lee. Each story is either about one of them or about somebody connected to them. It's the opposite of chick lit--the stories of love or looking for love are jagged and uncomfortable and so painfully realistic that it was hard to stop reading. They are stories of connection and failed connection and though they can be dark, the end result is not completely unhopeful. Just don't read it after a r ...more
Aug 05, 2015 Bruna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Melancólica. É, talvez, o melhor adjectivo para descrever o meu estado pós leitura.
O que eu procuro mais frequentemente nas histórias que leio é a compreensão do que me rodeia. Gosto tanto quando um livro me ajuda a atribuir sentido aos comportamentos errantes do quotidiano!
E neste caso temos personagens semi disfuncionais, que no meio do caos emocional e do desprendimento que caracteriza os relacionamentos contemporâneos, conseguem avançar titubeantes para alguma estabilidade, dando um vislum
Tess Malone
Feb 07, 2016 Tess Malone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pale blue cover, cliche title and corny blurb may lead you to dismiss this book as chick lit, but it doesn't froth like chick lit, rather, it cuts to the bone. Attenberg's observations are sharp, her characters richly flawed, their dialogue rivetingly honest; love is really only the connecting theme and not the answer. Attenberg conjures up other fantastic female writers. The interlocking stories feel like a pre-Jennifer Egan's "Visit From the Goon Squad." Her wit is reminiscent of Lorrie Mo ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Tracie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories were simple, and I was a little confused as to their purpose. At the end your realize that they're all intertwined. It's a little discerning, the stories. Quite pessimistic as far as the good kind of love is concerned, and doesn't offer much hope...regardless, it was still entertaining, and while I can't relate to all of it, it's still pretty realistic. Which is sad... A quick read that reaffirms my pessimism
Aug 22, 2008 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cynical romantics
I can't say that I really liked this book because some of the stories were just plain depressing and that wasn't really what I wanted to read. This book of short stories features characters as they go on quests for love and romance only to never really find what it is they want, or never really understand what it is they want. I think if I had read this in college, I would have liked it more, but at this stage in my life... not so much.
Zoe Jussel
A series of short stories albeit it, intertwined, with the characters looking for "that special person" to complete their lives. If you have someone in your life now that works, thank your lucky stars you aren't out there in the dating pool again. Especially after reading this. Interesting characters and compelling stories but one is left with, again, happy to not be "seeking". It seems to be a different ball of wax from when I was single.
Jane Lump
This collection of short stories--snapshots really--leaves you feeling jagged. Is love really that awful? Are women all so confused and broken? There are some great flashes of insight( a la Sherwood Anderson?) but I felt that a little editorial discipline would have helped. I read this in one day and still had a hard time connecting the dots. Maybe the stories are supposed to stand on their own, but then why all the overlap?
Apr 27, 2007 lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hard-hearted girls and boys
i loved this for it's anti-chick-lit tendencies. . .it's not about getting the boy, but the ambiguous yet sometimes delicious feelings of what it means to get it on with the boy. . .it's one of the few books that gets into the non-romantic underbelly of romance. my fantastic friend sarah got me this book and i read the first chapter over lunch. . . and read it swiftly over the course of 2 nights. . . .
Catherine Sumner
I'm not usually big on short stories, and didn't realize this was a book of linked stories rather than a novel when I picked it up. Although I really liked some of the stories, particularly the first and the last ones, I didn't think the book held together well. It was confusing to keep track of the characters who kept disappearing and reappearing.
Nov 29, 2007 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007november
Based on the cover (mine actually has a gorgeous melty popsicle) and the jacket, I expected this to be chick lit.

And it was, of a sort, but better.

It's a collection of interwoven short stories about girls and women moving through relationships. It's more well written than I'd have guessed and imminently more interesting.

I was hoping for just a light, quick read. I got much more.
Mira Saab
I liked the realness of this story. It definitely wasn't a fairy tale. It showed the good, the bad, and the ugly of falling in love through different perspectives. However I felt that there was no harmony throughout the story. It was hard to distinguish who the speaker was at times, and follow the story.
Aug 28, 2012 Asmaa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-books-in-2012
You know the movies that have a lot of characters and many scenes to explain a part of their lives, and they're all secrectly connected to each other. Well, this is the book version.

I can't figure out if it was a bad book or it just wasn't my type. Romance novels; not my thing. However, the stories are not so romantic as they are more ''instant love'' (or maybe not even love).
Sep 07, 2010 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was written as a series of vignettes, with some of the same characters crossing in and out. However, I found it difficult to keep track of the characters and their relationships with each other - it was very disjointed. There were a few very salient and insightful points made about love and relationships, but largely I wouldn't recommend it.
I think I'm too old to read a collection of short stories where the characters reappear in later stories. I felt like I needed cliff notes with character descriptions. Or a flow chart. The characters and stories stick with you ... or maybe that was just because I had to keep going back to re-read and figure out who was who.
I seen that a lot of people gave this book four or five stars, but I just did not think that it was that good. It was sometimes confusing to follow and I felt that it ended abruptly. It was not your typical happy ending book where all the story lines wrap up neatly. In fact, it did really even feel like it had an ending at all.
Jan 02, 2013 Elyse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Links between the various stories often took too long to emerge, frustrating reading and not being sure which character is the focus of that chapter. Other than that it was good, if not a little depressing. It felt like no one had a positive experience of 'love' or relationships.
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I'm the author of Instant Love, The Kept Man, The Melting Season, The Middlesteins, and Saint Mazie. My sixth book, All Grown Up, comes out March 2017. I blog at, and you can find me on twitter @jamiattenberg. I'm originally from the Chicago area, but I happily divide my time between Brooklyn and New Orleans.
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“These are the things we do sometimes, she thinks. We remind ourselves of why we're in love, so that we can stay that way. It's not a permanent state, remember that, she tells herself.” 2 likes
“And she was funny and beautiful and she liked the same books, the same music, and she wanted everything I did, was in the exact same place I was in life, and just like that, add water and mix, instant love.” 1 likes
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