Matt's Reviews > Sweet Talk

Sweet Talk by Stephanie Vaughn
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Jun 18, 13

Read in June, 2013

I get the impression that Vaughn is "a writer's writer," and I think she lives up to that: there's very little here that's obviously flashy, but instead, there's a collection of funny, warm, and ultimately bruised stories, brought over with a sense of modesty and conviction.

A lot of stories involve triangles-- we've got a couple instances of mother-father-grandmother, and a couple with husband-wife-best friend, and there are a couple here that deal with parents getting older, or sick and dying. Likewise, there's the same, or a similar-enough-to-pass military family here. A couple tell the story of Gemma's evolution, from I guess being married and trying to get a jb teaching community college on the east coast till she returns to the west. But out of these general set-ups, Vaughn wrings a whole lot of different kinds of stories: Kid MacCarthy is sort of heartbreaking about Vietnam and family, but "My Mother Breathing Light" captures very deftly that frustration and resignation that follows it when caring for an older parent. "Sweet Talk" is barely funny, all beneath the surface about a marriage falling apart, but "Other Women" is wiser, knows what you can expect and is only curious about what you'll abide.

Lots of really good stories here. Even a couple that'll appeal if you're a dog person. A very solid collection, the kind of thing that at first you might think is indebted to Lorrie Moore, but the more you read, the less manic it seems and more capable of digging up its own truths and pain.
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06/18/2013 marked as: read

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