Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “L'ouvre-boîtes” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,319 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews
Recueil de nouvelles mettant en scène des personnages décalés qui échouent pitoyablement à incarner cette normalité insupportable que représente le style de vie américain.
Published (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about L'ouvre-boîtes, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Michael Res Apparently it means she speaks in a manner that is pleasing to the ear. What story was that in?
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have an unrequited beef with Jincy Willett that dates back to weeks ago when she wrote in the NYT's Book Review that Sarah Dunn's flaming piece of chick lit "Secrets to Happiness" was not, in fact, chick lit. This, of course, led to me researching the reviewer to find ways to extract from her the $23.99 she owes me for lying. Unfortunately, when I can across her own list of novels and short stories, I was surprised to find that Willett's stuff looked like stuff I might want to read.

With her m
Sep 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just got this book for $1, and already I am happy and sad about that. Why didn't I pay more?
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Shannon by: david sedaris
The term "brilliant" is thrown around a lot, and not always accurately. But in this case, it's very apt. This is just brilliant. "Justine Laughs at Death" was downright disturbing, what with the allusions to rape, murder, and torture, and the weird bird imagery and cryptic phone calls. But very good. And "Best of Betty" was really funny. The whole thing is very witty, and I think Willitt is up there with Amy Hempel as a short-story writer who uses the minimum amount of words to their maximum awe ...more
Joshua Gross
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an intense collection of short stories. All of them resonated and meant something, all of them had depth and complexity, and it made it a little difficult to read at work because I'd finish one story and just have to move on to the next one without time to recover. Jincy Willet is amazing, and her stories show that. She has a perfect understanding of human nature and of human interaction.

These stories occasionally have a feel about them that is specific to that time period and that gen
Chance Lee
Jincy Willett's short stories are interesting in that very few of them have a clear arc, or a complete plot, instead it's just a bunch of things happen to a character, and now make something of it. I guess that's every story, when you think about it, but hers even more so. The last story, "The Jaws of Life," addresses this in its opening line: "According to Hannah, real life just happens, whereas stories make sense. When you put real life in print, she says, you show it up for the pointless mess ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommended this one to my book club after reading about David Sedaris' rave review of this book, which was actually first published in 1987, and then resurrected and reprinted after Sedaris wrote about how much he loved the book. Being a big Sedaris fan, it seemed logical that I would love Jenny and the Jaws of Life.
Have you ever invited someone to watch a movie that you absolutely loved, and then watched it with them, wondering the whole time, if really the movie wasn't that great after al
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have had a good run of books over the past week or so. Jenny and the Jaws of Life was so good that I'm tempted to take a break from reading and revel in the goodness. Instead, I will reread Jenny...

Short stories are difficult. They are difficult to read and they are extremely difficult to write. Few hit the "sweet spot," the point at which there are precisely enough words to complete the idea, not a single word too many or too few, and each perfectly suited to it's purpose. Jincy Willet has a
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is a truly fascinating book of short stories, but if you decide to read it you probably shouldn't read "Under the Bed" just before going to sleep. And if you do read "Under the Bed" just before going to sleep, don't continue on to "Justine Laughs at Death" to try and make it better. And if you do go onto "Justine Laughs at Death", at least read it all the way through. Don't give up and try to go to sleep in the middle, no matter how early you have to be up the next morning. Trust me.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The 13 short stories in this collection are witty, well-constructed, contain beautifully written passages, and Willett shows a lot of insight into human nature; nonetheless, I disliked this book a lot.

Originally published in 1987, it was reissued in 2002 with a new introduction by David Sedaris, who is quoted on the cover as saying, "[i]t's just the funniest collection of stories I've ever read," which, if true, could mean that all the other collections he's read are autopsy reports. It's neith
In his introduction, David Sedaris piles tons of hyperbolic praise on this collection, including calling it the funniest collection of stories ever, which just ain't the case. Most of the stories aren't actually funny nor are meant to be.

This is dark, self-conscious satire, of an annoying eighties vintage that feels very much of its time and the many varied collections published during that recent golden age of short fiction. But with a few exceptions, the stories here, they feel more like the
Sarah Hine
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because in the forward, David Sedaris explains how he considers this book a true gem which help shaped his own literary voice. Using basic logic: I love David Sedaris. David Sedaris loves Jincy Willett. Hence, I will love it too. And I did love it. Not because it made me burst out laughing while riding the train to work (which is why I love Sedaris), but because it had so many great turns of phrase, twisted and rich plot lines, and disturbing but absorbing characters. Willett's ...more
Sep 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This book and I had a date at the Korean Women's Spa this week. The stories I enjoyed most were the first two and then the later story told in the format of an advice column. The themes start to repeat themselves and I didn't enjoy the last two stories in the collection. Very similar in tone to the David Sedaris collection Barrel Fever.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susann by: David Sedaris
Shelves: re-read
A dozen years after my first reading, I still think this is an excellent collection of short stories. My 2004 review probably would have been more glowing than this one. But if I seem tepid now, I think it's due to the timing of this re-read and how the mood of the stories wasn't quite what I was looking for.

According to my paper book journal, my favorite story in 2004 was "Justine Laughs At Death." This time it was "The Haunting of the Linguards."

Last read: 03-12-2004
Sam Ferree
I honestly have no idea where this book came from, but one day I found it on my shelf and decided to read it. Most likely, it was required reading for a course that we never got around to reading. Either way, I'm glad I held on to it.

There's no great way to describe Willett's style. It's humorous and devastating. I highly recommend it.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who is smart.
this is simply one of the most under recognized, hugely intense, beautifully written books i have ever read. i feel lucky to have discovered jincy willet (although david sedaris might've found her first) and recommend everyone read this book once or twice a year for the rest of your life.
Emily Mellow
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
These are darkly humorous stories. One or two I didn't like, but there are enough great, unique stories to make the book a choice read. I generally prefer a novel to short stories, but these flowed nicely from one to the next...
Matt Fitz
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Sedaris revived this 1987 collection of short stories in 2002 with his foreword/review calling it the "funniest collection of stories I've ever read - really funny and perfectly sad at the same time." I would recommend you read "funny" to mean its less used definitions of "quirky" or "peculiar." Her imagery and variations of narrative were complex and intriguing. The stories lack the typical short-story arc with tidily wrapped endings and there is a tinge of the macabre or dark humor (kids ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
NEARLY TWO YEARS LATER, I have at last finished this wonderful collection of short stories. The length of time it took me to finish is a reflection on me, not at all on the quality of the book. As with any book of short stories (presumably; I admit I have not read a great many short story collections), there were some I loved more than others, but there are definitely several that will stick with me (and/or have stuck with me, as some of them, once again, were read nearly two years ago).

Lindsay Zombek
I should probably write a review after I process this a little further. I anticipated more humor...there was humor, but often dark (very dark) humor. Some stories crossed into downright disturbing and should be avoided by anyone with sexual trauma triggers. The stories were compelling and moments of brilliance and wit were found in the quirks of various characters and in their experiences with the mundane and how the mundane escalates into the absurd.
Paolo Albera
Racconti deliziosamente strani
Rebecca McNutt
This was certainly one of the weirdest story collections I've ever read, in a good way, capturing people in an incredibly realistic light.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly enjoyable in surprising ways.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful variety of themes and voices.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The first few stories are pretty strong, but it goes downhill from there. I'd try another book by Ms. Willett, but I don't see myself rereading this one or passing it on to a friend.
Feb 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Having recently fallen in love with Jincy Willett's writing, I purchased Jenny and the Jaws of Life to recapture that delicious feeling I got when reading "Winner of the National Book Award." Alas, what resulted was the exact sensation I got the first time I read any Austen after starting with Pride and Prejudice: the distinct feeling that if I read this first, I would have loved it and not been, instead, vaguely disappointed.

Jenny and the Jaws of Life is a good collection, but it also clearly s
I tredici racconti contenuti in "Jenny e altri imprevisti" di Jincy Willett sono tutti pervasi da una costante sensazione di solitudine e di spaesamento e pur mostrando una vena ironica e umoristica, soprattutto nei confronti delle avversità, sembrano possedere un ascendente piuttosto cupo, sinistro e imprevedibile nonché una speciale propensione verso la morte, che è in qualche modo presente in quasi ogni racconto.

Recensione completa:
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i enjoyed this! i also kind of want to meet david sedaris now because he recommends this as the funniest set of stories he's ever read and if that's true he has a BIZARRE sense of humour and i'd like to hear more about it

i saw a couple of reviews that found this collection depressing which is interesting because a) i never felt that way and b) these stories feature matricide, rape, a serial killer, a false claim of sexual abuse, unhappy marriages, dysfunctional parenting...why on earth didn't i?
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: Colleen
Whoah, that was a dark read! Sure, the writing is tight, and it's (short stories) psychologically insightful into turning points in people's lives. But this is dark, full of murder, rape, and other graphic, disturbing stuff. So be warned. I had nightmares the night after I read it. I did get a kick out of "The Best of Betty," about a vicious advice columnist who take her comments so literally. Nevertheless, of course I managed to find some quotes I liked:

--"We drive in the rain through pitch-bla
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, 2011, 4-star
I don't think the book blurb is entirely honest. The description of the stories as wonderfully funny and poignant and the characters as eccentric and complex sounds like it was borrowed from a Fanny Flagg cover by a lazy publisher. It's fair to say that this book is funny, but not in the way you might expect given David Sedaris' endorsement. As dark as he can be, he's still light enough to have become a sort of national treasure. Jincy Willett's work is sharp and sardonic and probably not for ev ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I read this book of short stories because it's an all time favorite of David Sedaris, who praises it quite highly in his preface of a collection of short stories he edited called "Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules" (from which I learned that Sedaris and I share an affinity for darkly comic and satirical short stories.)

While I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped, the story "The Best of Betty" alone is worth the price of admission -- it's a truly hilarious parody about an advice
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Varieties of Romantic Experience
  • Guess Again: Short Stories
  • Beautiful Girls
  • Who Do You Love: Stories
  • Honeymoon: And Other Stories
  • The Brutal Language of Love: Stories
  • Tumble Home: A Novella and Short Stories
  • This Too Can Be Yours
  • The Columnist
  • Tourist Season: Stories
  • Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules
  • How It Ended: New and Collected Stories
  • In the Land of Men: Stories
  • Trailerpark
  • Colors Insulting To Nature
  • Sam the Cat and Other Stories
  • The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas: Stories
  • The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories
From the author's website: "An aging, bitter, unpleasant woman living in Escondido, California, who spends her days parsing the sentences of total strangers and her nights teaching and writing. Sometimes, late at night, in the dark, she laughs inappropriately." This is also the short bio on her character, Amy Gallup, on her blog in "The Writing Class."
More about Jincy Willett...

Fiction Deals

  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Chasing the Sun
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Hidden
    $3.99 $2.00
  • Jubilee
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Where We Fall
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Over the Plain Houses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Mustard Seed
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Count Belisarius
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Memory of Things
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.24 $1.99
  • A House for Happy Mothers
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Lace Makers of Glenmara
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Quaker Café (Quaker Café #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Honest Spy
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Gone Crazy in Alabama (Ala Notable Children's Books. Middle Readers)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Mercer Girls
    $4.99 $1.99
  • While the World Is Still Asleep (The Century Trilogy Book 1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • 600 Hours of Edward
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Prayers for the Stolen
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Daughters of Palatine Hill
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Very Valentine
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Cellar
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Clouds (Glenbrooke, #5)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Ireland
    $10.49 $2.99
  • Funland
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The Comfort of Strangers
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Endless Night
    $4.49 $0.99
  • Lilac Bus
    $7.99 $1.99
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Unremembered Girl
    $4.99 $2.49
  • Love in the Ruins
    $11.99 $1.99
  • We're All Damaged
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Clara and Mr. Tiffany
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Age: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth
    $8.24 $1.99
  • The Rejected Writers' Book Club (Southlea Bay, #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • A Tangled Mercy
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stillwater Rising
    $4.49 $1.99
“According to Hannah, real life just happens, whereas stories make sense. When you put real life in print, she says, you show it up for the pointless mess it really is.” 4 likes
“Kenneth was a sitting duck. In fewer than three years he would kneel alone in this very room, on the exact spot where he now stood, emptying the contents of his desk into cardboard boxes from the liquor store while his gaunt bitter wife reviled him in the Goldbergs' living room and choked the Goldbergs' big brass ashtray with with unfiltered cigarette butts, and if anyone were then to ask him for the secret of a happy life, he would answer: Stasis.” 1 likes
More quotes…