Megan's Reviews > Crash Diet

Crash Diet by Jill McCorkle
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Mar 25, 08

Read in April, 2008

"Crash Diet" (the first and title story) is brilliantly funny, and "Waiting for Hard Times to End" hits you hard right where it's aiming. The New York Times Book Review called the collection (in apocalyptic prose) an indictment of the "shoddiness of the pleasures" of the world--to which I would say, um well sort of...--still, I agree with them that readers everywhere will pick up the book and cry, 'That's just how it is!' in the best way possible. When a book has me wondering why I keep buying the latest Elle, I start to like it. There's a witty, funny, slightly self-loathing/slightly world-wizened, highly identifiable voice which women use to speak to themselves and to each other (see the columns of E. Jean), and which I am drawn to every time it appears in fiction (Margaret Atwood, especially in her early stuff like Lady Oracle; Lori Moore, who picks up on the women's magazine trend with SELF HELP; sometimes Amy Hempel). Jill McCorkle has that voice down. She, like Lee Smith, pays fine, poet-like attention to the language she uses: the repetition of "I know him like the back of my hand," for instance.

I've never read Jill McCorkle (except for an interview in the back of Lee Smith's FAIR AND TENDER LADIES) and the reason I chose to start with this collection was the great one-liners she opens with: "Kenneth left me on a Monday morning before I'd even had the chance to mousse my hair, and I just stood there at the picture window with the drapes swung back and watched him get into that flashy red Mazda, which I didn't want him to get anyway, and drive away down Marnier Street, and make a right onto Seagrams," and "I don't believe in non-violence. I never have." I know that "voice fiction" is sometimes considered too cutesy (or "quirky without being truthful" to borrow a phrase) but whenever the author succeeds in showing the vulnerability of a character beneath his or her idiosyncrasies, I find it irresistible--most of the best stuff (Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, Jim Shepard, Mark Richard, McCorkle herself) that's being written today.


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