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Some Possible Solutions

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  483 ratings  ·  104 reviews
What if your perfect hermaphrodite match existed on another planet? What if you could suddenly see through everybody's skin to their organs? What if you knew the exact date of your death? What if your city was filled with doppelgangers of you?

Forced to navigate these bizarre scenarios, the characters search for solutions to the problem of how to survive in an irrational, i
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 31st 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Popular Answered Questions
MeerderWörter No it is not because there is a difference.
To be a hermaphrodite is not possible for humans, but intersex people were long called hermaphrodites.

No it is not because there is a difference.
To be a hermaphrodite is not possible for humans, but intersex people were long called hermaphrodites.

And since it is a book of fiction, both is possible.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.63  · 
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 ·  483 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Helen Phillips tells stories set in worlds that are similar to ours but slightly different. Often this setting worked well in showcasting humanity and its flaws but sometimes it seemed more gimicky than clever. At the heart, these are stories about women and their unique struggles; with motherhood and relationships, with changed technology, with dissappointment and many things more. When the stories worked, they really resonated with me and Helen Phillips' brilliant imagination made the stories ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Strange and unsettling collection of short stories. (3.5 Stars)

It never ceases to amaze me that, even as our country forges into the future with ever more bedazzling devices and technologies, the archaic infrastructure rots away beneath our feet, the pavement and the rails, the schools and the DMV. (The Knowers)

I really enjoyed Helen Phillips's The Beautiful Bureaucrat, so I was ridiculously excited to read her latest book. Some Possible Solutions is a collection of eighteen short stories. Many
Jessica Sullivan
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This eccentric collection of dystopian speculative fiction stories encompasses the myriad anxieties that accompany modern womanhood—from having a baby to attending a dinner party to caring for a sick relative. The characters in Phillips' stories range from suburban moms to futuristic prostitutes, and the eerie, uncanny worlds that she creates are disquieting in their existential familiarity. As with most short story collections, there were some that were much better than others (I particularly e ...more
Courtney Maum
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think the term "beach read" is usually equated with fluffy books that can be managed on a hangover with the sun blazing your face off. Well, I prefer to read books that blaze my face off, and that is precisely what happened with "Some Possible Solutions" by Helen Phillips this weekend.

This was my first Phillips read. Now I'm going to binge read her in hopes of recapturing the weird, disturbing, exuberant, truthful, gutted way this one made me feel. It's like someone took Sarah Rose Etter and A
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Some Possible Solutions is a collection of 18 short stories that are strange and unsettling. They often slip into a dystopian world. This is a difficult book to review because some stories really went over my hear while I really loved some others.

'The Knowers' was a chilling read in which a woman knows the exact date when she is going to die. Does that make your life better or worse?

The dystopian world in 'Contamination Generation' is a possible reality. We have degraded our environment and n
Tara - Running 'n' Reading
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After my experience with The Beautiful Bureaucrat last year, I was extremely excited to see that author Helen Phillips would release a collection of short stories this year; not only am I a fan of her work, but I am also a big fan of well-written short stories.

Had I not already been acquainted with Phillips' work, I might not have reacted as favorably to this collection; if she is a new author for you, however, this could be as good a place to start as any. This is what many would consider "dyst
18 short stories in 209 pages. I liked them all. Some I really liked. Some caused me to say, what? and start over (and still say what!). My two favorites were --

Children - A mother is sure her children are aliens. Her husband threatens to leave her if she doesn't stop saying it. They are. He doesn't.

Contamination Generation - It is hard and expensive to have kids. Few families have more than one. Grass can only be found at the Botanical Gardens and it's forbidden to play on, walk on, lay on, or
Aj Sterkel
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Good: The author has a huge imagination, and she’s absolutely fearless when it comes to writing. These stories are bizarre. They push boundaries. They demand that you use your brain. The characters live in worlds that are similar to ours, but just different enough to make the reader feel unsettled. There something sad and off-kilter lurking beneath the surface of these tales.

My favorite story is “The Knowers.” It’s a sci-fi examination of the different ways we deal with grief. Would you want
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a fan of alternative-reality fiction, I enjoyed Helen Phillips’ new collection of short stories called “Some Possible Solutions” very much. More, in fact, then her recent novel, ‘"The Beautiful Bureaucrat". In my personal world of writers, I imagine Phillips attending a parallel-universe garden party, surrounded by curious foliage, sipping unidentifiable, multi-colored beverages and chatting with Karen Russell and Kelly Link in a strange but oddly familiar language. Dusk falls…everyone is won ...more
Joe Jones
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shortstories, fiction
I used to read a lot more short stories, but for whatever reason I got away from them. This is the kind of book that reminds me just how good they can be. The author has a way of taking the mundane facets of our lives and reimagining them in a unique and at times unsettling way. Each story paints such a vivid picture in your head that you can't soon forget them even if you wanted to try. I had to force myself to stop after each story to let it bounce around in my head until I could make some sen ...more
Rachel León
My review for this collection was published today. Here's the link:
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Delightfully strange stories, some long, and some very short. I almost felt like I was reading snippets of The Twilight Zone.
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This collection reminded me of stories I love from both Shirley Jackson and Amy Hempel—though sometimes almost a bit too much. ("Life Care Center" felt particularly close to Hempel.) Phillips really got parenting, and her stories about raising children and navigating those new, complicated and beautiful relationships were fantastic. (Really, what better way to explain being a parent is there than with a story about how your children are *literal* aliens who you love with your whole heart even th ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I’m so moved
so entertained
by this surreal
deeply divine
These stories will remain with me.
If they so choose the narrator would say.
Thank you HP.
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tales With Teeth

(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC for review through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.)

Once something I wrote made the judge of a contest indignant. He wrote, "This is something that this woman should share with her husband alone, if with anyone, and probably not even with him."

If there's one passage that best encapsulates Some Possible Solutions: Stories, it would be this.

Helen Phillips's second collection of short fiction is vulgar, imposing, and (at times) weirdly
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
Actual rating: [3.5]

I'm a huge Helen Phillips fan. I'm still obsessed with her debut novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat and constantly find myself recommending it. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that she had a new collection of short stories coming out. You can count on Phillips for at least a little bit of weirdness in each story she tells, often veering into science fiction territory, and she didn't disappoint in that respect.

Almost all of the stories are sort of dystopian. Character
Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advance reader's copy of this book.

My love for Phillips’ The Beautiful Bureaucrat created sky high expectations for this short story collection…despite short stories tending to be hit or miss for me. Well…this collection proved just like most others…hit and miss (with more misses than hits). If you read The Beautiful Bureaucrat, you know to expect some weirdness from Helen Phillips and she delivers that here. But, Bureaucrat had m
Lauren Bates
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, favorites
Phillips does an excellent job of writing about tough subjects without making the reader feel weighed down by the characters. Not to make ~everything about me~, but I’ve been having a hard year, and Phillips books have done so much to help me sit in the darkness without being completely overwhelmed. This sounds so dramatic, I promise you’re not going to be depressed walking away from these books. And maybe you’ll try it and won’t like it, but the way death is written in Some Possible Solutions ( ...more
Aug 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
So well written, but I finished too many of the stories feeling like I was missing something. I also find myself biased against short stories because I want to spend more time with the characters. I did very much enjoy "The Knowers" and "The Messy Joy of the Final Throes of the Dinner Party," though. And for readers who especially enjoy magical realism and short fiction, this book would be perfect.
I think my rating has more to do with the fact that I straight up did not fully comprehend some of the stories in the second half of the book, but the ones I did get I absolutely enjoyed. Overall a fascinating read, and I recommend you check it out. I will pick up her debut novel at some point because I'm definitely into the stories she has to tell.
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was great. This was basically what I was hoping American Housewife would be: a look at the slightly creepy side of women, but with a hint of speculative fiction. The stories are unrelated but feel like they're all set in the same universe, which brings some cohesion that I enjoyed. I tore through this collection and wish it had been double the length.
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a huge short story fan, but I did enjoy these quite a bit. Very short, and each with an intriguing premise. These are the kind of stories you try to imagine yourself in and then wonder if you would do what the protagonist does. Thought-provoking and entertaining. Very recommendable.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
sometimes I read a book and I'm mad at the author cause I didn't have the chance to come up with any of their ideas first. this is one of those books. damn you, helen phillips. I want to take your brain from you.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the first I've read by this author, so I don't know if this is her style of writing, but I was a little confused... The stories scattered all over the place --- I'll have to try her other works
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read my full review and others at Eyes and Books!

Great collection of "different" short stories.
Paul Vidich
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Phillips conjures unsettling situations for her characters and redeems them with love, kindness and humanity. She casts a unique brilliance onto the landscape of contemporary fiction.
Patricia Geller
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I think I would of enjoyed these stories more if i had come upon then one at a time but grouped together I got bored by their weirdness instead of intrigued.
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting and thought provoking.
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
These stories are weird and creepy and funny and exciting. I didn't love them all, but some of them dazzled me with their creativity.
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Helen Phillips is the author of five books, including, most recently, the novel THE NEED. Her collection SOME POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her collection AND YET THEY WERE HAPPY w ...more