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Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It
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Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  3,642 ratings  ·  571 reviews
One of the most critically acclaimed books of the year from a master of the short story.
One of the most celebrated new writers of the last decade returns with an extraordinary collection of stories demonstrating the emotional power and the clean, assured style for which she's become famous. Set mostly in the American West, the stories explore the moral quandaries of love
Paperback, 219 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Canongate Books (first published 2009)
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This wonderful title is a quote from a poem by A.R.Ammons, and is an apt description of the quandary encapsulated in each of these stories. Often enough the wanting it both ways is the classic case of the husband hoping to keep both wife and lover, or hoping for the chance to juggle the two - funny how it's rarely a woman trying to keep all the plates spinning. But this is not the only kind of wishful thinking, there is also the child who regrets the departure of her mother's glamorous lover and ...more
A friend of mine asked me to read this book as it had received good reviews but she wasn't impressed with it. She wondered what I would think. So here it is:
From the title, "Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It" I made the assumption that it was a book about relationships, a non-fiction book. And even though my usual reaction to pop psychology self-help books is a gag reflex, it probably would have been better than what this book turned out to be.
It is a book of fictional short stories about the
Apr 20, 2011 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: short review
Meloy’s stories are flawless: the writing is clear and economic, the settings and ‘plot’ and characters conjured with minimum fuss. Altogether perfect pieces largely about adultery, and breaking marriages (or maybe not), but also about childhood incidents looming later, murder, rape, stalking and industrial accidents. The collection is aptly titled – the stories usually take the reader into a situation where a decision is about to be made, and often leave them with the outcome still in the balan ...more
alana Semuels
I usually don't go for collections of short stories -- usually the themes are so similar (immigrants have it hard, people cheat on their spouses, music is cool, that after the first few stories, I'm bored. Also, there's no plot egging you along, making it easy to put the book down. But I couldn't put this book down. The prose is gorgeous, the stories are simple and memorable. I read it in a day. If you're going to read one book of short stories, make it this one. Or Olive Kittredge. But this one ...more
I love the title of this book, and it fits each and every story. (Though, I wish, perversely perhaps, the phrase hadn't been used in one of the later stories ("The Children") -- it was better, I think, to have the poem it's from used just as the epigraph.)

In each story, there is the surface story, and then there is at least one other layer that causes you to reflect after you've finished the story, causing you to wonder what might have been, if only this one thing had not happened or happened d
Meloy captivated me immediately with her skill and finesse. She has certainly succeeded well in the art of the short story. Each tale captures the essence of her characters with mirth, sympathy or suspense.
I appreciate the recommendation by my good friends in Goodreads and anticipate reading more by this author.

What a find! Maile Meloy, I suppose, is not newly found. It seems the heavyweights of the industry have heaped honours on her since her debut collection of stories in 2002. But she’s new to me and Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It is one of the best books of 2009.

This is an author with talent to burn but we get no writerly pyrotechnics. Meloy is confident enough to rely on her clear, unadorned prose to propel us along. Her stories flow, swiftly as a Montana stream, and get us there scarcely be
Sep 11, 2010 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: daddies' little girls; unfaithful men
Recommended to Jessica by: morgan
I wanted to be blown away by this, and I wasn't; thus the two stars. I don't mean at all to suggest that Meloy isn't a great writer, and in fact I'm almost certain that she is, but on a subjective level I didn't connect with her stories at all. One thing I'm realizing on my short-fiction mission is that it's tough to stick with one writer through a whole book of short stories if you don't personally care about their themes, because they are incessantly returning to and reworking the same stuff. ...more
Captivating short stories that make you think and appreciate. For anyone who loves books that so easily sheds the layers and opens up the human interiors without judgement, this book is for you. Such an easy quick read too.
These stories will make you think as well as tug at your heartstrings. There is something in all of them that goes far beneath the surface of universal human truths. It's funny because the ages of the people range from just out of their teens to their 50's or so, though most are 30 or 40 something's, all of them are relatable however. You can feel for the 20 something farm hand falling for a slightly older woman just as much as you do for the middle aged couple contemplating the state of their m ...more
To write short stories, you need to be a bit of a magician. You need to pull characters out of a hat, breathe life into them, and weave a spell around the willing reader. Maile Meloy has that gift. Her 11 transfixing short stories are the only way you’d want them – effortless, genuine, and sometimes unpredictable.

In all these stories, the characters are faced with a choice (not unlike Robert Frost’s “Two Roads Diverged”). One choice usually takes them in a stable direction; the other freedom and
Maggie Tiojakin
To be honest, I expected BIG things from Maile Meloy's "Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It" -- because before I got to know the author, I was exposed to all kinds of excellent reviews which appeared in a number of well-respected publications. So, when "Both Ways" was chosen to lead the 2009 list of "Best Books of The Year" in The New York Times -- I thought to myself: I have to HAVE it! Nevertheless, with me living halfway across the globe (Indonesia) -- purchasing this book took quite a bit of ...more
It was short story time this weekend, as I hunkered down with this collection, Wells Tower's "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned", and "On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction" by Karl Iagnemma.

This was the winner of the bunch, though Wells Tower came in a close second. I liked almost all of the stories in this collection ("The Children" was the only exception, so that Meloy's batting average was 10 out of 11), and a few, "Lovely Rita", "Liliana" and "Agustin", were true standouts.

This book was 2 stars most of the way, but got up to 3 in the latter stages, which makes me wish there were a 2.5 star out there in the Goodreads universe. I was looking forward to this, b/c I remember really liking her first collection. This, however, was just okay. I'm sure expectation affects my reading, but as with another acclaimed loved-by-every-critic collection, Wells Tower's "Everything Ravaged...", these stories (with the exception of "Lovely Rita," most of "Augustin," and parts of "Th ...more
Despite all the rave reviews of this book, it just didn't do much for me. There was one story in the book I thought was pretty good, but I found the others just so so. Many of the stories had the same theme, infidelity, so it felt like I was reading the same story over and over with different character names. After reading the best short stories, you can feel as though you've read a whole novel because the story line and characters were so well developed. In this book, it felt more like reading ...more
Robin Rountree
I do love a book of short stories and had high hopes for this collection. I was, however, disappointed.

The stories never ended on a happy note, but that wasn't my main problem. I know it is so difficult to really develop both characters and plot in a short story. The plots were there...interesting with nice turns...but the characters were not much more than cardboard.

It was frustrating to read the stories (yeah, I didn't give up, I read them all) knowing that the author was CLOSE to a great stor
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It is a collection of short stories mostly featuring men and women living in the fringes of the American West. They inhabit those small, western towns were people still have one foot in older, more simple ways and one foot edging into the fast-paced, more technological world. The stories are written in a plain, honest language that feels natural for the setting and characters.

In general I'm not a big fan of short stories. They either draw me in and then leave me
I should probably work on my bank of cliches, but both ways is exactly how Maile Meloy dishes it out: Her spare prose + that bull’s eye take on the human condition = Literature (yes, with a capital L).

As an undergrad I had an English professor tell me the short story genre was not a real one, that true Literature (literature with a capital L) could never call itself such under 250 pages. Needless to say (but in case it’s not), this professor’s specialties were 18th-century and Victorian novels.
Deborah Edwards
When I am browsing through bookstore shelves, I tend to shy away from the short story collections. I'm not sure why. I know other readers who admit to doing the same thing, and they, like me, cannot say why. Maybe we just want to go on a journey, find a character or two, accept a premise, and then invest our time for the long haul. Perhaps we think if we understand a character, live a life with someone in the span of a few hundred pages, we may also understand ourselves - and others - a bit bett ...more
Patrick Faller
Meloy's is another collection of stories that is burdened by its reliance on formal constraints. The collection's title establishes the thrust of each piece--characters stuck between a rock and a hard place, forced to choose. This would be okay if not for the fact that short fiction as a genre rests of just such a convention. Short stories are constructs that dramatize the motivations and consequences of choices taken. It's a bit of letdown when Meloy brandishes the central convention of all goo ...more
Jo Case
The title of her fourth book is strangely apt for Maile Meloy. Her most recent novel, A Family Daughter, was a daring experiment in having it both ways, following the seductive literary soap opera that was her first. Liars and Saints followed the entwined lives of one Californian Catholic family, the Santerres, over sixty years. In A Family Daughter, Meloy resurrected a character whose death had been pivotal to Liars and Saints, making her the meta-fictional author of the original (and recasting ...more
I'm constantly bringing home short story collections in an attempt to read them. While I generally find the idea of doing so irresistible, I rarely get through the first story, let alone the first few pages. When I do I'm left feeling cold, as if I've missed something I was supposed to understand.

Having come across the New York Times' list of the best books of 2009 by chance while at the library, I decided that I -had- to bring home the book deemed the best of ten given my strange attraction to
A fantastic collection of short stories. Each of them is to the point, beautifully depicted, and haunting. The themes are somewhat depressing to contemplate -- from adulterous spouses who fail to follow through on their plans to leave (thus the title "Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It") to father's betraying their daughters in unimaginable yet somewhat sympathetically to parents who are largely forsaken by their spoiled children. The majority of the stories are set in Montana with the remainde ...more
I particularly liked the final two stories of this collection, "The Children" and "O Tannenbaum." Both center on male protagonists who have indulged in one marital indiscretion earlier in their lives (a kiss, a one-night stand), but who presently are considering embarking on affairs. They want it "both ways" in that they long for the "bathrobe-warm" security and stability of their families, their wife and kids, but they also long for the heady disorder and freedom of an affair. I also enjoyed "S ...more
Destinee Sutton
Jan 06, 2010 Destinee Sutton rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Destinee by: NYT Best of 2009
A while ago I said I was I taking a break from reading books about middle-class, middle-aged marriages and their discontents, but with this collection of short stories I'm back.

Meloy's perfectly written stories are about yearning and frustration (which, we all know, are the essential themes of middle-class, middle-age life, even if you're not married--or middle-aged). Sad as the stories were, I admired the writing and insight tremendously.

My favorite story, and probably the most lighthearted,
Kasey Jueds
These stories are devastating, in the best possible way. Spare, economical, and full of tremendous depth. Maile Meloy is like Tessa Hadley and Alice Mattison (two of my favorite, favorite fiction writers) in her ability to just nail slippery, often hidden, often shadowy human feelings and motivations--to hook them and lift them into the light for us to see. These stories feel perfectly emotionally true to me--only one ("Liliana") struck me as mildly lightweight, but maybe that's because it comes ...more
Katie Parker
I generally don’t read very fast, but I cruised through this one because it is a book of 10 short stories. It had been a long time since I read a book in this format, but Maile’s writing made it an easy place to start. Her style is straightforward and descriptive, and while I don’t think she portrayed anything particularly unique or deep on the subject of humanity, I do think she had a firm grasp on her characters and their motivations. It was surprisingly easy to understand their points of view ...more
I have read her two previous novels and other short story collection and she has a unique voice. Very melancholy and cynical which suits me, but I find it a bitter pill. She tends to view life as a struggle yet is able to highlight the uniqueness of her character's situations, making them feel incredibly real. Her writing, choice of subjects, and dramatic action are all supremely realistic yet I can not rate this more highly as the reading experience is not as beautiful as her writing and presen ...more
Although some reviewers absolutely love her writing, it just doesn't work for me.
Meloy's writing style is to repetitive and simple; starting every sentence with 'he...' can be viewed as 'fresh' or 'raw', but I find it dull and incompetent of ensnaring the reader.
Continually throughout the book she tries to hint to some deeper, more intense emotion underlying character choices, which she does not really accomplish.
At the end of every chapter it left me with an empty feeling, saying "Is this it?
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2015 Reading Chal...: Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It 1 10 Feb 06, 2015 03:09PM  
Short Story lovers: Book review 1 6 May 11, 2014 06:59AM  
My interview with Maile Meloy 1 15 Jul 13, 2010 10:23AM  
  • Do Not Deny Me
  • Nothing Right
  • If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
  • Don't Cry
  • Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories
  • A Short History of Women
  • Where the God of Love Hangs Out
  • Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry
  • Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
  • Death Is Not an Option: Stories
  • The Collected Stories
  • The New Yorker Stories
  • Girl Trouble: Stories
  • Dangerous Laughter
  • Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories
  • Alone With You
  • Among the Missing
  • Other People We Married
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
More about Maile Meloy...
The Apothecary (The Apothecary, #1) Liars and Saints The Apprentices (The Apothecary, #2) Half in Love: Stories A Family Daughter

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“She craved a family, not having had enough of one to understand what a pain in the ass it was.” 9 likes
“His heart felt dangerously full, for the first time in years. That dried-up battered organ, suddenly flush with love. It could kill him.” 8 likes
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