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Half in Love: Stories

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,016 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Fourteen remarkable stories that combine strong Western settings with a subtle and distinct female voice. This critically celebrated debut collection marks the exciting beginning of prize-winner Meloy’s promising career.

Lean and controlled in their narration, abundant and moving in their effects, Maile Meloy’s stories introduce a striking talent. Most are set in the modern
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 17th 2003 by Scribner (first published July 8th 2002)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  1,016 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Claire Fuller
From a lawyer who wants to help her irritating and irrational client, to a man who thinks he could have done more to save his diving buddy; from a clever girl who only wants to marry, to a white American living in Saudi Arabia who accuses his servant of theft, these stories are filled with regret and longing. They all share the same resonant nostalgic tone and are filled with 'ordinary' people making (often poor) choices. I loved them all (even though a couple ended a little too abruptly), and t ...more
Ally Armistead
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Half in Love" will always remain one of my absolute most-favorite short story collections. Ranging from WW II England to Montana ranch country to American suburbia, "Half in Love" explores just that, the nature of love between strangers, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and sons.

Of all the stories, the most powerful (for this reader anyway) is "Red," the story of an American soldier in WW II England who is so desperate for warmth and beauty that he tries to "extract" some mea
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
I will be honest and tell you that I requested books by Maile Meloy from my library because I adore Colin Meloy's singing and lyrics. Even his banter with the crowd during a concert is amusing and endearing.

Anyway, uh, right, Maile Meloy. Usually I look forward to short stories, but after the first two or three in a book, they all go downhill. The first story, "Tome", was about a lawyer who went to help her client in a hostage situation. The second was a teeny bit contrived, about a man who rea
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
There was a time when I enjoyed stark, skeletal stories like these; now I find them more withholding than "lean and composed." But that's just me.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maile Meloy is one of my favorite short story writers. I found this early collection (her debut, apparently) at Powells and have been savoring it during my lunch hours. Before this, I did not know she was from Helena, Montana and while not every story in this collection is set in the West, her authority and detail writing about it rivals Pam Houston's. "Ranch Girl" "Thirteen and a Half" and "Four Lean Hounds" are standouts, but her talent and voice are alive in every story. "Paint" and "The Ice ...more
I don't have high expectations, really. I mean, look at my track record...I'm easy to please. Yet, I could not find one story in this collection that I liked. Although beautifully written, each story is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Also, I don't always need to have a happy ending, but I do require purpose in a story. A reason to turn the page. Instead, what I got were sad, random glimpses into people's lives for no apparent reason than to show that's it's tough all over.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aching. Haunting. Brief. Cold. Stony. Varied.

Some of these stories hurt to read. Some feel like they're the beginning of a larger story. Others feel like the end of a deeply sad epic. There's a useful aimlessness to it. And at the end of a chapter I almost always felt like shivering in sorrow.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
I enjoyed the stories, some with a degree of sadness to them. They make you feel, they have emotional content.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maybe even 5 stars. These aren't happy stories, but they are so beautifully written in deceptively simple prose. She's a fantastic writer.
Alan Alderson-Smith
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like others here I watched Kelly Reichardt's film Certain Women in 2016 and was intrigued enough to see what the original stories were like. I bought Maile Molloy's Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It and was simply knocked-out by it. I then went for Half In Love (where two out of the three tales in the movie come from) and was again enormously impressed. Most of the stories are barely 12 pages long yet she manages to dive deep into her character's lives often through a single incident or set or ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This fine collection of stories is set mostly in Montana and were originally published in periodicals such as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Ontario Review. Many have the sharply detailed yet emotionally elusive quality of New Yorker fiction, for example the first two stories, "Tome" and "Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976."

In the first, a lawyer must deal with a disabled client who takes hostage a young employee of the state agency that has handled his case. The ironic details
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
I didn't care for this and am having trouble coming up with good reasons why. The author is a talented writer and the stories present interesting situations - a soldier in World War II on the night before he is to cross into France, a group of travelers stranded and one of them is a truck driver who has just been involved in a fatal accident, a man coming to the realization that his wife is seriously ill. Yet, I couldn't really get into them. Maybe it was the sameness of them - the desolate land ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: story-collection
I recently watched and adored a film called Certain Women, directed by Kelly Reichardt. I loved the way the stories carefully, unfolded and discovered that the writer was a novelist and a short story author. I immediately requested this collection and it was as good as expected. I love stories set in the modern American west and Meloy nails it here. I highly recommend it. Here is a taste:

“We left early, heading into a pale sunrise, and somewhere on the winding road through the canyons it turned
Dawood Nadurath
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Incredible stories, beautiful in their quiet the way I had hoped after seeing CERTAIN WOMEN. I need a gun and a horse NOW

Favorite story: Four Lean Hounds.

“”I want to get stoned and I want to go home and then I don’t know what I want,” she said. “I want to go back to Texas.””
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
These stories are not as refined or as perfect as Meloy's novels, but they are just as beautiful. Almost all of them take place in Montana or other similar barren, solitary locations; all are haunting and somehow frightening. She is so spare, so simple in her writing, but in a way that makes her so very powerful. This woman knows how to make you FEEL it in your gut. It's incredible, really.
Jul 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Meh. Not really a fan. I read *rave* reviews but I much prefer Pam Houston over this author. I found myself bored with the short stories. A small collection of pages, yet I didn't even feel like reading the last story.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
"She is beautiful, and sparkles like jewels when she is wearing none: skin like gold, white teeth and clear blue eyes."

"Sometimes my son has a face like a storm, and then it clears, and again he is the most attractive child I have ever seen."
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
my sister and I watched a Netflix titled "Certain Women" ( was pretty slow moving)which gave us pause thinking about the meaning or messages in the story lines. Led me to read the short stories by Maile Meloy which were the base for the movie, trying to get more insight.
Frank Garland
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book caused me to openly weep on a crowded train. It's not like I wasn't forewarned - I'd already read Liars And Saints and Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It - but this one just shattered me the way only sublime beauty can. My heart was left gaping.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good short stories, set in ranches and towns in Montana and Utah. I picked this up because I liked the authors audio book called Don't be Alarmed or something like that. I think I've found an author to follow. I'm going to try The Apothecary next.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Deliciously tragic. I could only read one every few days because these stories land hard on the heart. They left me reeling from the immensity of the loss and suffering we experience as humans, yet relishing in our resilience and the universal longing to love and be loved.
Nov 23, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
When Haskell marries an ex-hippie, everyone on the ranch expects trouble. Suzy was a beauty once; now she's on her third husband and doesn't take any shit. Suzy reads Tarot cards, and when she lays them out to answer the question of Andy Tyler, the cards say hold out for him.
Karla Mae Bosse
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very compelling short stories, and very true to the Montana settings.
This collection of fourteen short stories includes two – "Tome" and "Native Sandstone" – that served as inspiration for two of the three parts of director Kelly Reichardt's stirring 2016 cinematic triptych, Certain Women ( Montana native Maile Meloy has a real knack for these kinds of brief narrative sketches, many of which barely get started before ending abruptly. Indeed, that is both the strength and weakness of the volume: filled with strong descrip ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loooove a good short story. And these are good. But they're...too short. Most of them, I felt like they ended just when I was really getting into them. I wish I could've rated this book 3.5 stars. The stories really are artful and made me want to keep reading, but they just end too soon. Still, I liked them enough that I ordered another book of hers immediately from the library.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
short stories of ordinary people on the brink of change. The movie "Certain Women" was based on Meloy stories, some of them in this book (the movie doesn't do them justice). Different settings but the ones about Montana are the best.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Sparse yet expressive writing with subtle surprising twists. A few stories didn't capture my interest. Many stories take place in Montana and deal in some way with horses. I'm not fond of the title. It's a quick read, though. If you like her other books, it's worth reading.
Andrew Queisser
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great stories, slice of live, quite sad
Kim Hooper
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here's the thing: For a while, I was off short story collections, the way you're off fish for a while after your favorite market forgot to de-bone it. I read the ones that got all the accolades and thought, "I don't get it." Meaning, I don't get the stories and I don't get the hype. Lots of short story collections are over my head. They seem abstract and pretentious to me. But, I loved Maile Meloy's "Liars and Saints" so figured I'd give her stories a try. I'm glad I did. Her stories are real, h ...more
Jul 11, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm guess I'm a sucker for stories that an a melancoly undertone to them and all of these stories do. Meloy, sister of The Decemberists' lead, can capture that feeling, clearly and intensely, in the stories she writes. And, the stories in this collection focus on thoughts, feelings, reactions, a very interior focus. The problem with the stories comes in exactly how to end them. For me, only a few of the endings works naturally given the flow of the story's specific details, focus. "Aqua Boulevar ...more
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Maile Meloy is the author of the novels Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, the story collections Half in Love and Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review), and the award-winning Apothecary trilogy for young readers. She has received the PEN/Malamud Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Be ...more

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