In her debut story collection Heartbreaker, Maryse Meijer peels back the crust of normalcy and convention, unmasking the fury and violence we are willing to inflict in the name of love and loneliness. Her characters are a strange ensemble—a feral child, a girl raised from the dead, a possible pedophile—who share in vulnerability and heartache, but maintain an unremitting will to survive. Meijer deals in desire and sex, femininity and masculinity, family and girlhood, crafting a landscape of appetites threatening to self-destruct. In beautifully restrained and exacting prose, she sets the marginalized free to roam her pages and burn our assumptions to the ground.
Maryse Meijer is the author of the story collections Heartbreaker, which was one of Electric Literature’s 25 Best Short Story Collections of 2016, and Rag, which was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Pick and a finalist for the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, as well as the novella Northwood. She lives in Chicago.
A great thing about short stories is how you can read one in a sitting for one mood, then another one, and then by the end of the book you have a stained window of moods inside you. This this more of a paper bag full of busted shards. It does bodily violence without the precious weight those scenes sometimes get.
I feel like I've read more short stories this year than ever before and I see stories that overlap in theme or style with other writers, but this collection feels very original. Some of the stories are weird, others dark, but they're all fantastic. I'm excited to read more of Maryse Meijer's work.
An unyieldingly weird and incisive collection that cut me deep and didn’t let up: Heartbreaker is one of my new favorite story collections. Almost shockingly consistent, this is a book chock full of pieces unafraid to embrace their strangeness and often offer poignant takes on the human condition.
My favorites are the title story, which features a tense, sexual relationship between a developmentally challenged boy and a poverty-stricken, sexually anguished girl; “The Daddy”, about a married woman who hires a younger man to play the role of her father; and “Jailbait”, a portrait of the breakdown of a man’s modern relationship after he spends a night in jail.
At the heart of each of these stories is some form of loneliness, of alienation, with characters yearning for something—something more, something different. The author nails true yearning, desire, in pitch-perfect prose. I will certainly read her other books.
4.5 stars, beautifully written, I absolutely love her work! I liked Rag more, but this collection of short stories was definitely still engaging and a great read. I would definitely say that if you have literally any sort of trigger that you should maybe think twice before reading this!! Meijer is probably one of my new favorite authors when it comes to short stories, but her content is some of the more heavy and dark stuff I think I’ve ever read. I didn’t give it five stars because of this, I love super dark stuff and even I was a little uncomfortable reading a few of the stories.
Unbelievable. Meijer is doing stuff I've truly never seen before. Every story is so affecting, so emotional, and so scary???!!!!! It's such a brilliant foil to her more recent collection RAG. Meijer has developed a distinct style that seeps into my brain like breathing in smog. Her prose is unassuming but wildly impactful. It sneaks up behind you and then punches you in your gut. I'm obsessed. Can't wait to read her novel. I am a massive fan and can't wait to follow her writing career.
I dragged this one out over two months because I was too stubborn to add another book to my DNF pile. This collection of short stories is not my kind of weird (Craigslist, pedophiles, girl rising from the dead, feral children) and I wasn't feeling Mejier’s “restrained and exacting prose.”
This collection of short stories by Maryse Meijer is, broadly speaking, about love and desire and always includes a moment of heartbreak. The 13 stories are different, strange, maybe even bewildering at times. The unusualness of the relationships/desires makes it interesting. But not because you finally get to know how a girl and a fox make out but because it opens up a different way of telling a love story, it allows Maryse to use a different kind of language then you would in a more traditional love story. But since it is still a love story you can refer the words and feeling she conveys back to yourself. At least in theory, I couldn’t make it work every time – sue me. Sometimes she makes good use of this opportunity, writing beautiful analogies. But with most short story collection some are better than others.
The heartbreaks that occurred sometimes kept me longing for more. For a more drastic or devastating even if you will. It is not that there subtlety was a bad thing. One the one hand I really liked how she ended fire for example. It was well written and played on the whole story but at the same time I wanted the character to burn in the fire, to be consumed by it, consumed by love.
I found these stories a little tentative. A polite perversity to them. I wanted the author to dare to disturb me more than she did. For the subject matter--which ranges from violence, to sexual violence, to simple estrangement between characters who haven't learned even the basics of surviving in a social culture--the author stayed relatively restrained. I hope she breaks out next time because her territory should be one of primal screams, not primal excuse-me's.
In contemporary fiction, it doesn't get any wilder, starker, or more beautifully subtle than Maryse Meijer's work. HEARTBREAKER is thirteen stories, is a singular worldview, is a dark, intelligent, heart-stopping romp through the very human condition, its women and men on fire, lost, in love with so much that will not love them back. Until it does. And then look out . . . You won't read anything like this from anyone else, and in my book there's no higher praise.
I have a feeling these stories will stay with me for a long time. I adored this collection, for me it was reminiscent of Sarah Hall's The Beautiful Indifference or Laura van den Berg's stories, a few of them maybe even reminded me of some of Jenny Diski's stories collected in The Vanishing Princess, less for their style and more for the way Meijer invites readers to see her characters in incredibly vulnerable, odd and dark situations. Truly, be prepared to have your heart broken.
4.5 stars (with a considerable push near 4.75): While I didn't like, or rather understand, every story in this collection, that wouldn't obstruct me from recommending it to someone with equally fucked up reading interests as myself. Meijer's writing is electrifying, provocative, disarming--if you're fortunate enough to survive its magnitude, then you're one of the lucky ones.
This is a short story collection by author Maryse Meijer. In this collection; Meijer peels back the crust of normalcy and convention, unmasking the fury and violence we are willing to inflict in the name of love and loneliness. Her characters are a strange ensemble- a feral child, a girl raised from the dead, a possible pedophile- who share vulnerability and heartache, but maintain an unremitting will to survive. These stories deal with desire and sex, femininity and masculinity, family and girlhood, crafting a landscape of appetites threatening to self-destruct.
Ever since I read Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection (Her Body and Other Parties) I have been trying to find other short story collections that are a bit on the bizarre and thought-provoking side. So when I heard about Maryse Meijer, I knew I wanted to read her stories and see if they had a similar vibe. I’m happy to report that they do! This short story collection is so bizarre but it is about the overall feelings of love and loneliness. How these themes are shown is so creative and some almost have a magical realism or speculative to them. Each story is fairly short and most of them are slightly ambiguous, but this leaves so much room for thought-provoking speculation. While the majority of the stories are on the darker side, these stories highlight so many themes that are familiar to the human experience in such unique ways. I can’t wait to read more of Maryse Meijer’s collections!
Genuinely the strangest thing I’ve ever read? If you’re not in to weird & dark- steer clear. I‘m in a strange position where I’m on the fence about this. It made me uncomfortable- but I read it in one sitting, and I’m trying to figure out how that should impact my rating.
A few stories were interesting and I can appreciate how out of bounds/weird this book got but I just didn’t really enjoy reading it.. I also think i may be too pea-brained for this one if i’m being honest lmao
Read for In-Brief book club at City Lit. A lot of bestiality and pedophilia and some necrophilia. I have no issue with any of those things if they don’t feel like they’re there just for shock value. I haven’t decided about this book yet. Felt like Stephen King’s ideas as rendered by a creepy seventeen-year-old girl who writes surprisingly sharp fan fiction.
Superb. Brutality in each pushed far to the edge. The natural world becoming human, and vice versa. The natural world eating us alive, or fucking us. About the filling of urges and containing a subtle critique of how those urges come to embody us. Skimming the front matter I noted that two of the ones I loved the most, "Love, Lucy" and "The Daddy", didn't appear to be published first in magazines. All the more reason to pick this up.
in lieu of a 'review' i will just post short summaries of what these stories are about:
1. there's a story here about a girl with an insatiable kidnapping fantasy 2. there's a story here about a teenage girl who sexually preys on a boy with down syndrome 3. there's a story here about a girl who was raped and then torments a group of boys trying to flirt with her 4. there's a story here about a wife who can only be with her husband if he is incarcerated, and gets mad at him when she discovers he has been lying about being raped in prison 5. there's a story here about a woman who solicits a man to be her 'daddy'--not in the sexual way, but in the 'coddle me and buy me ice cream' way (this was my favorite story in the collection, guess i'm weird) 6. there's a story here about a young girl who stalks a female shopkeeper (not sure why) 7. there're also a couple 'magical realism' stories, of which i read a few pages and then stopped
if this sounds like your bag, then by all means. i spent a lot of time after i finished this thinking about why i didn't like it. the book screams 'EDGY.' see, girls are weird assholes, too! there's certainly value in that idea, but when all is said and done, it feels like just and idea. none of these characters feel like human beings; the stories feel less like stories and more like exercises.
Interesting, crude little stories that are wordy and vague in such a way to seem arty. In other words, I have already read this style a million times. I was drawn in by the cover, dammit. Oh and Meijer has chops, sometimes they shine through here. I would like to read a novel by her where she is forced to spend time exploring things instead of trying to shock readers. My notes read, "trying too hard not to make sense". All that does is leave me unsatisfied and, after awhile, pissed off. Don't get me wrong. I don't need a happy ending (or even an ending) but obscuring what is actually going on in the story is just pointless. There's difference between being ambiguous to hide what is coming next from a reader and being ambiguous because shit is not fleshed out in the writer's mind. This feels like that a bit. I failed to construe an actual plot to most of the stories, I just settled back to enjoy the ride. I can't say I liked them (the subject matter only provoked disgust) but they were interesting. The best of the lot are Jailbait (which is kind of fascinating) and Love, Lucy went there when few other writers would not have dared.
These short stories reminded me in a way of those written by Carmen Maria Machado - although I don't mean to imply that they are similar or lacking originality. I just mean that they both trade in similar registries of emotion - the lonely, the touched by sci-fi kind of magical realism which just tells stories of heartbreak and the mutual rejection between protagonists and society.
In the case of Maryse Meijer, the prose is definitely touched by more defiance and raw violence, and the emotion is so raw that you just can't put the book down but it also makes you very sad for everyone in it. Big like for the occasional touch of feminism and the soft-implied descriptions of the kinds of men who insist on taking up all the space.
Hello new favorite book of 2016 & new contender for favorite story collection. I am obsessed with Maryse Meijer's writing. The stories are written with conviction and urgency. The prose is at once unrestricted in its scope and uncomplicated in its ease. The characters are honest and brittle, people you want to scold, but also root for. You can find a commonality in each character, good and bad, and shockingly (or perhaps not that shockingly) it's more often in the bad. There is a truth in the violence of these stories. Of people on people, people on Earth, Earth on people. It's breathtaking. It's heartbreaking.
Short stories are typically my palette cleansers between larger, heavy-subject books. Often, I keep a book of short stories on hand for brief spare moments that I know I won't be able to devote to a novel of depth.
This one served as both. But with the sacrifice of shock, sometimes disgust, morbid-intrigue at each unique character providing a brief glimpse into the society's outcasts, drifts from social norms, and often humanity's underbelly, uncovering the unusual and absurd surviving among us.