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Half in Love: Stories

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  919 Ratings  ·  100 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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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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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
Oct 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Meloy makes me brave about my own writing. She writes elegant single scenes that contain a whole world's worth of story just under the surface. Somebody told me once that single-scene stories never get published and I wish I'd known about Meloy back then--because she does it so well. I had to return to the book to the library, so apologies for not naming the specific story here, but she tells one story about a couple that goes to ask a man if they can have some sheet rock from his property. In t ...more
Lori Weir
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fourteen great stories mostly set in the American ranching west with female protagonists. Each story is raw with emotion and really allows you to understand the character's thought process in a short space of time. Meloy never shies away from the gruesome side of life, the natural turn of events, telling things the way they are, in a way that most people would run away from. However, Meloy does this in such a way that you cannot help but turn the next page and see what she has in store for you n ...more
If you're white, and you're not rich or poor but somewhere in the middle, it's hard to have worse luck than to be born a girl on a ranch.

I prefer Maile Meloy's later short story collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, but this one still has some gems. "Ranch Girl" is one of my very favorite short stories, and even though it's written in second person, it doesn't feel gimmicky. Meloy's not a writer to use gimmicks, actually. Her writing is very controlled, sparse almost, and deceptively
Joan Colby
Aug 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable collection of short stories. Meloy is not afraid to exhibit her versatility; though many of the stories take place in the west, the voices and situations vary with narrators of either sex and widely divergent backgrounds. Meloy treats her subjects with subtlety but unlike so many other current short fiction writers, she invests her tales with moral centers, which is not to say that she is a moralist, far from it, but that she sees her fiction as having a core question, rather than m ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is hard to believe that this is a debut collection of stories. They are moving and powerful. The Western setting reminds me of Annie Proulx.

"Four Lean Hounds" is haunting. "Paint" is excruciating to read. Even on the second time around, I could barely stand it.
Some of the other stories that take place outside the west like "Red" and "Aqua Boulevard" I found weaker. They didn't feel quite as connected to the emotional content of the story, but still an impressive first collection. One story th
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
There were a few underwhelming stories, but overall I really enjoyed this collection. Meloy has a great range; not only does she write men and women equally well, she also does well with a variety of ages in her characters.

Standout stories, for me:
Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976
Garrison Junction
Aqua Boulevard
Last of the White Slaves

She's just one of those authors whose writing leaves a lump in your throat.

I think I like her more recent collection, *Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It," better, but
Linds Sloan
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Certainly as solid as her latest collection. The stories in "Half in Love" are subtly heartbreaking. The sentiment is so well done that it almost blindsides you; refer to "Kite Whistler Aquamarine" for the saddest line about a horse you will ever imbibe. The Montana stories in this collection bring to mind the Proulx collections. Favorite story: "Last of the White Slaves", for the line: "So, no love to you except the old love, and that was real enough."

A close second from "Thirteen & A Half"
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Maile Meloy is an amazing short story writer and she owns Montana as much as any living writer owns any other land. The first five stories in this book fit with the best of her work in Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It amongst the greatest in modern fiction. Meloy falls off a bit in her journeys to Europe in this book, and then recovers with the haunting "Paint".

I've now read all four of Meloy's adult fiction books, and with one 5-star and two 4-stars amongst them I will certainly read a fifth
Leslie Jamison
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I should start by saying that I genuinely respect Maile Meloy’s prose and love her wisdom about people in general (it seems) and her characters in particular. That said, I feel like her later stories are better than her first ones. What was razor in Both Ways felt vaguer in Half in Love. Characters faded into the extremity of their situations, winter storms and rugged plains. Some set-ups (the disgruntled man takes a hostage, the dead man was cheating on his wife) felt overly conceived of and th ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I usually don’t enjoy short stories because it feels like there isn’t enough there to be able to really sink into them, but that isn’t the case for Half in Love. Though in the short story format Maile Meloy must sketch her characters quickly, she is so good at conjuring fully formed people that almost from the first paragraph of most of these stories I felt that I both knew the characters well and wanted to hear more about them. Her settings, from the ranches of Montana to wartime Europe, are ev ...more
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ficción
Un fantástico primer libro de cuentos. Ninguno de estos cuentos, sin embargo, se acerca a la maestría de los incluidos en "Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It", y hubo momentos en que francamente sentí que los finales podrían haber sido mejores, o quizá es que me sentí tan embebido en cada una de estas historias que no me parecía posible que tuvieran que terminar a la siguiente página. Después de estos dos volúmenes de cuentos es bastante seguro que me leeré las novelas.
May 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the story collection of Maile Meloy's to read. Each story has a compelling plot as well as characters who are fully realized, and one can imagine how the rest of their lives turn out after only the brief glimpse these stories allow. The prose is crisp and lyrical, and the author needs only a few words to break your heart. Each story seemed even better than the last, though all are stunning on their own.
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The first collection by one of my favorite short story writers. All the stories move along well; the dialogue is real and never stilted, the description of countryside is adept and not intrusive and for the most part the stories end with a perfect pitch of ambiguity. Her characters are young, old, American, European, smart, stubborn.....varied and crisp. Enjoy this and her other collection, "Both Ways Is The Way I Want It".
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
I love short stories, so I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.
Some of the stories grabbed my attention and heartstrings immediately and I didn't want them to end. Others, not so much.
I think that I also had a hard time skipping around so much. If all the short stories had been held in the American west, I think I would have appreciated the book more. I found it hard to skip around the globe quite so much.
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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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