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The Terrible Girls

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  321 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The girls on the prowl in The Terrible Girls are indeed terrible—relentless in love, ruthless in betrayal. These thematically linked stories depict a contemporary Gothic world in which body parts are traded for love, wounds never heal, and self-sacrifice is often the only way out.

"In this brilliantly original work, Rebecca Brown gives us haunting parables of betrayal and l
Paperback, 136 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights Publishers (first published January 1st 1991)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  321 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Found this both excruciating and perfect, like finding a mixtape made to help you endure a break-up that evokes all of its awfulness and yet is beautiful and perfect and part of who you are, after all. I love the way the stories fit together with variations and repetitions, and the post-apocalyptic feeling is pitch-perfect. I am already haunted by this one, that sitting somewhere else trying to think of something else pieces of these stories drift into my head and I think, yes that is exactly ho ...more
Sarah B.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: The Toast
I find it difficult to write about this book. It's emotional and moving, but the prose is sparse, the stories are highly abstracted, and the grief, heartache, and longing are expressed so physically it's almost unbearable. It made me so uncomfortable I couldn't put it down. But then again, it's so beautiful.

I think it would be an ideal book to read while one is trying to recover from heartache. Or, if that's not what you're doing right now, it will make you remember the terrible things you did o
Frankie Rollins
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You should read this.
Dec 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Chris by: Kat
I think that the writing of this book is really amazing, particularly in the ways in which the stories are all along the same lines, but in different shades. The weaving of the stories' plots together is amusing, and Brown is both really funny and horrifying, at once.
The problem is that the book is supposed to be stories that are related to one another, but instead come off to me as really almost all being of the same voice and direction. Were this a novel with different scenarios, I might not h
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a story cycle that I really enjoyed. Not a lot of emphasis on plot here, but meticulously crafted line by line writing. "Forgiveness" is a gem of a short story. ...more
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you are a writer, this is a must read. Even if you are not a writer, this is a fantastic read. Rebecca Brown has a sparse writing style where no word is frivolous. The Terrible Girls can be read as a collection of short stories or as an interconnected whole that explores an emotional journey using fiction to express what cannot always be expressed in telling the truth in detail. If you are in a bookstore and happen along this book, just pull it out and start reading one of the stories, it wil ...more
Mistinguette Smith
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers
A collection of short stories for writers and sophisticated readers. Brown makes the leap from metaphor to brutal, yet magical, realism in these inter-linked stories of love and betrayal. Finely crafted expositions of what it means to find that your lover is heartless, that you would give your right arm for her...
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Miranda
Recommended to Erica by: Tatiana
Shelves: literary-fiction
What it feels like to have your heart broken.

An amazing feat, yes. The only downside, I suppose, is that it is painful (frightening?) to watch someone feel that much. There's usually a reason you don't send those letters to the one who's left you.
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
The girls on the prowl in The Terrible Girls are indeed terrible-relentless in love, ruthless in betrayal. These thematically linked stories depict a contemporary Gothic world in which body parts are traded for love, wounds never heal, and self-sacrifice is often the only way out.
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who've experienced obsessive and posessive love.
a very strange book. i can't put my finger on why i felt it was so 'flighty' when all the metaphor was so 'earthy'. maybe that's just women. ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
This collection contains one of my favorite short stories: "The New Fuck You".

Let's just say that you should always be wary of cliches and promises.
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I saw a theater company here in Chicago adapt this book to the stage. It was as amazing as the read!
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Rebecca Brown makes me think, perhaps more than any other author, about the work required of the reader. I find her very altering.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a hard book to get through and it is not forgiving nor does it help you along. But it is really beautiful anyway.
Eve Tushnet
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A lesbian breakup album, a black-and-white horror film flickering down like lightning in the operating theater, a tray of gleaming scalpels: These are slim experimental f/sf stories about what it is like to be betrayed by you, the unjust you who can withdraw into a respectable world of safety and candy promises... and also what it's like to slowly realize that affronted and amputated I share some complicities with you.

I loved this book in high school and I love it now. It's self-righteous, but i
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fic
What a glorious, shattering, inexplicable book.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is such a deeply complex book that I definitely need to read it again. I spent most of it confused but in awe of the gorgeous writing.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five stars isn't enough to describe how much I loved this book. It was unique, well-written, and utterly engrossing. I feel lucky to have picked it up! ...more
Mar 27, 2019 marked it as to-read
give me all the hurt-y lgbtqia* books pls
Oct 21, 2008 rated it liked it
this is a book i read for a class sophomore year, and i've never quite reconciled how i feel about it. i wrote a paper on the symbolism in the book which made me like it more, because it made me think about it more.

occasionally i return to the book and re-read it, and i never quite know what to think. i think it depends on the level the stories are analyzed at, i think they stand much stronger when linked thematically than when left to stand on their own. it's at times unflinching in it's love
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was really excited to read this - I loved Annie Oakley's Girl, and was so happy to pick up another Rebecca Brown - but this one just did nothing for me. I basically only finished it so I could write a goodreads review. The first story was engaging and alluring - very Jeanette Winterson in the way that a complex emotional story emerged even in the absence of lots of plot details - but then as the stories continued and got grimmer, the style started to feel like it got in the way. It started fee ...more
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tatiana by: joy
this is it, this is the book, this is who i want to be as a writer. when i first read this book i had to take a day's break between stories. i've never had to do that with a short story collection. each story was a punch in the heart. i've upset many, many people by lending them this book but it's just so good. a friend said once this book summed up everything that was great and horrible about dating women, and i have to agree. ...more
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lez
I feel like this book was probably good for what it was - but whatever it was, wasn't quite for me. I just found it very upsetting.

I just read Tatiana's review of this book, and I am clearly one of the ones she upset by lending it. Although I'm feeling like maybe I should try it again and maybe I'll be more prepared for it this time.
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I did not read this book in order, I wish I had. The Forgiveness chapter was recommended to me. I loved it. The rest of the book was okay. Some of the chapters were better than others. I was under the impression that it was a book of short stories. Each chapter on their own stand as interesting stories, but once I got to the end I was able to make some connections.
Sep 21, 2011 added it
Shelves: lgbt, unfinished
I personally could not get through this because of the writing style. I can appreciate why some people may like it, but it is definitely not for me. Maybe I just read this at the wrong time and was not in the mood to deal with it. As such, it will remain unfinished.
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it
3 stars only because it hasn't left me with lots of lingering thoughts the way my favorite books do, but wow is that some cool writing! ...more
Theresa Edwards
Jun 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Will use this in my Lit. & Gender classes this fall.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my carry around books!
Jordan Larson
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
"The Dark House," A+ ...more
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Rebecca Brown’s diverse oeuvre contains collections of essays and short stories, a fictionalized autobiography, a modern bestiary, a memoir in the guise of a medical dictionary, a libretto for a dance opera, a play, and various kinds of fantasy.

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“When I said I'd give my right arm to you, I didn't think you'd ask me for it, but you did.

You said, Give it to me.

And I said OK.”
More quotes…