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Female Trouble: Stories

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Female Trouble features thirteen wise, funny, and startlingly perceptive stories about the vagaries and revelations of womanhood. Named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers of her generation, Antonya Nelson explores the broad notion of family from myriad angles in Female Trouble. Set in the vividly rendered Midwest, these moving stories are dark and honest p ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 8th 2003 by Scribner (first published April 2nd 2002)
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Mar 08, 2010 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“In the intervening years, he’d gone to business school to hone his sycophancy…” (19).
“…while that one eye swam luxuriantly, casting about drunkenly as if for better company at a cocktail party” (24).
“There was no good reaction to a man’s crying, not one that would work. Men didn’t know how to do it, how o modulate, how to breathe or minister to their own sudden emissions. Ellen thought that men would be inept at childbirth, as well: they were so ugly in pain, so bad at giving in to a force larg
Jul 02, 2008 Dana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Auzelle
This book was unexpectedly fantastic. The stories have unexpected reversals and circumstances, the language is lovely and perceptive--"Loneliness left clues, and I would pick up his while he picked up mine, neither of us ever mentioning them." I found the characters sad, neurotic, devious, kind... no two stories were alike. I definitely recommend this book.
Rossandra White
May 21, 2012 Rossandra White rated it really liked it
These stories sneak up on you. You're not really a fan of short stories, but you heard this collection was good, so you start reading, yeah, it's pretty good. And then all of a sudden a sentence hits you between the eyes and you're struck by the clarity and insight and you want to go back. It just gets better and better. Here's the synopsis from Amazon.

Female Trouble features thirteen wise, funny, and startlingly perceptive stories about the vagaries and revelations of womanhood. Named by The Ne
Terri Jacobson
Sep 08, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is a collection of 13 short stories by this author who first made her name as a writer of short fiction. The stories discuss many aspects of the lives of women, as the title suggests. I generally liked the stories. This excerpt from "Female Trouble," the title story and my favorite, is an example of the writing I liked:

"And he was glad, he told himself. Glad for his simple body, its fixtures out in the open, the expression on his face projecting exactly what was behind it in his head. What
Apr 19, 2009 Jacob marked it as to-read
Shelves: gender
I saw this woman read a few stories from this collection at a Literature Conference a few years ago. She seemed awfully depressed but fiercely smart. Her stories intimidated and inspired me.
Nov 17, 2007 Myfanwy rated it it was amazing
Holy S*%t what great stories! I felt propelled through each until the end where everything slowed down and became a gorgeous, painful moment in time. A treasure.
Jun 05, 2009 Deidre rated it it was amazing
Antonya Nelson. Female Trouble. New York: Scribner, 2003.

Kit lent me this book of short stories too. I liked them. Like so many other short story writers, she’s disturbing, unsettling, and gives the reader good writing.

- “Incognito” Three friends in high school make up an alter ego and named her Dawn Wrigley. Using Dawn’s name and reckless persona, they do reckless things, including renting an apartment and bringing guys back to drink and make out. They play at older, wild girls. One of the gir
Jan 16, 2016 DilanAc rated it really liked it
Nelson writes beautifully and yet there's something, a tone perhaps, that's a bit too pleased with itself so that with many of the stories I wound up being entertained but not particularly moved.

"...while that one eye swam luxuriantly, casting about drunkenly as if for better company at a cocktail party."Even with that line, I can't point to exactly what's missing.

Also, I have a strange amnesia about these stories. This is the 2nd time I've read this book and yet I couldn't remember anything. As
Dec 22, 2016 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every story in this collection was not perfect but many if not most of them were infuriatingly good and vivid and weird and unexpected and left me bereft as they ended. The woman is a master of the form. I've read a few books by her before and I will certainly read more.
Collin Bost
Sep 17, 2007 Collin Bost rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Me...three years ago
Nelson has been nothing but a famous name to me. Although I might read her stories in journals, I never had a context for the range of her themes, no clear idea of how her own obsessions mirror my own. After reading a new story in a journal this summer, I decided to check out Female Trouble from Alkek. Her prose is sturdy, meaty, yummy: she accumulates details and coils her metaphors only to be strung unexpectedly. My favorite stories--"Stiches," "The Lonely Doll," "Palisades," "Loose Cannon," " ...more
Patrick O'Connell
Dec 13, 2007 Patrick O'Connell rated it liked it
I just finshed this book yesteday, and we discussed this book in our book group last night. I am still digesting it.

I did not find this collection of stories a page-turner, but I enjoyed it none the less. Overall, I had the feeling that I was reading the same story over and over again with different players.

I would say that there are at least a couple of stories which satisfied what I am looking for in a short story, and that is an interesting twist in plot.

I would say that she does a very good
Jun 25, 2009 J.I. added it
Shelves: read-2009
I may be falling in love with Antonya Nelson. This collection of stories often revolves around sex, just simple, ordinary sex (whether first time, married, dating or an affair), but it does so with a vivid freshness most of the time that I was dazzled. Mrs. Nelson displays a world of people who are motivated for any number of reasons and she renders them fully, giving the the how and the why so well that we cannot help but know them and sympathize with them even when they are wrong.

There are a
Jun 05, 2009 Mary rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who left Kansas City
Nelson's stories in Female Trouble are very, very good. A few were too crowded with characters or plot. But many resonated with me after I finished the book. She has a western perspective - Kansas City, Albuquerque, Teluride - which lends an open, independent, less "navel-gazing" approach to the stories. The weakest story unfortunately was the one from which the collection draws its name. Some themes become uncomfortably repetitive - adultery, unwanted pregnancy, alcoholism. However, Nelson's wr ...more
Amanda B. Miller
Dec 23, 2007 Amanda B. Miller rated it it was amazing
I loved this collection. It was my first time reading Antonya Nelson and based on this book, I am now a devoted fan. Set in the southwest, Nelson's stories investigate sex, love, marriage, gender and the comfort of self-destruction. There are little pops of perfection through out this book and I found myself repeatedly underlining descriptions and drawing stars in the margins. A great book to read for short story writers, as even her missteps are beautiful. Read! I strongly recommend this to my ...more
Oct 02, 2016 Peggy rated it really liked it
Generally, I don't like or read short stories.
I probably didn't realize these were short stories when I bought this book off a remainder pile.
But, to my surprise, I DID like the book.
The stories aren't connected, but they all deal with issues women face around sexuality, and that whole problematic thread ties them together neatly.
Nearly all are written from the woman's perspective, but the last story was from a man's point of view, and it was fascinating to look through his mind at 'women's worl
Jan 11, 2012 Moira rated it really liked it
I remember reading an Antonya Nelson short story while I was still in high school - something collected in a Best American anthology, I'm sure - and feeling like I was reading a story about a young woman I could very well be, if I were braver, if I were more interesting. Now I think that I could very well be the men and woman in the these stories if I were braver but less lucky.

She writes with such unadorned clarity. She makes it look so easy.
Nov 04, 2007 Shaindel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone...or women
Antonya Nelson's fiction frequently appears in journals and magazines like The New Yorker, Glimmertrain, Ploughshares, etc., and for good reason--she's one of the best short story writers out there. This particular book focuses on female protagonists in various types of relationships. One of my favorite stories in this collection is "The Other Sister." She's one of the writers I go back to when I'm trying to figure out how to make it all work, believable characters included.
Aug 09, 2007 emily rated it really liked it
A book of short stories, and the way I felt, is that while I was reading each story, it was engrossing and well-written. But as a whole, the collection seemed forgettable. I'm not sure if this is because there wasn’t much coherence between the stories, if they just weren't that amazing, or if I just wasn't in the mood for a short story collection. Anyway, decent but not great. Men beware: very female topics, perspectives, etc.
Aug 06, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was a little slow to start. I finally got engaged around page 91 with "Palisades", actually laughed out loud at the ending of "Loose Cannon", "The Unified Front" was sweet in an odd warped way, and my favorites were the last two stories "Ball Peen" and "Female Trouble". I thought the writing itself was good, it often manages to be both flat and poignant, though I wouldn't mind reading the same stories from some more urgently voiced narrators.
Sarah K
Dec 19, 2012 Sarah K rated it really liked it
i generally am not a fan of short stories, however nelson was able to articulate very private and not necessarily attractive thoughts that i thought i was the only one who felt. the stories themselves got worse as the book went along, but i would recommend reading them until you want to stop. the first one is definitely the strongest.
Nikki Morse
Oct 02, 2007 Nikki Morse rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I am currently reading this collection of short stories and am absolutely loving them. My girlfriend Kris is in a MFA fiction program and introduced me to her stories by reading one of her stories aloud to me on a car trip -- and then loaning me this book.

The characters are complex and interesting, the language and turns of phrase make me glad to be able to read.
Richard Jespers
Nov 19, 2014 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Excellent collection. Nelson is also from Wichita. That fact made stories of place interesting because I had been there.

In “Incognito,” she references Happiness Plaza, a shopping center I helped to build as a summer job in 1968 when I was twenty years old. RFK was shot June 2 that summer. For her story, it was just a fleeting meeting place for teenage girls.
Oct 20, 2007 Jhoanna rated it it was amazing
5 stars for the short story "Incognito," with possibly one of the best opening sentences:

"You can live a second life under your first one, something functioning covertly like a subway beneath a city, a disease inside the flesh."
Jan 04, 2013 Natalie rated it it was ok
I really wanted this book to be good. I willed myself to like the dramatic tales and try to insert myself in the character's stories, but I couldn't. I thought this book would have more humor instead of drama. I was wrong.
Feb 01, 2009 Lauren rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
First story was good, but her writing is too uneven. She feels like a writer learning how to write, and while there is a lot that is promising in her writing, it's a little nerve-wracking to see her working out her craft. A little like watching your 6 year-old daughter in a violin recital.
Oct 06, 2008 Mary rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2007 Avital marked it as to-read
I chose the book randomly-will welcome recommendations for any other of Antonya Nelson's books. I read her story "Or Else" in the New Yorker, and I am completely stunned.
three or four stories so far, and I like them a lot.
Feb 25, 2012 Corey rated it it was amazing
She's wonderful and should be better known. Complex portraits of women in any number of intriguing situations. Great, off-kilter characterizations. Nelson is an original and bracing talent.
Nov 15, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it
Great attention to the details - especially to those that aren't obviously important at first.
I thought this was an excellent short story collection.
Ploni Almoni
Jun 09, 2010 Ploni Almoni rated it really liked it
Superb. Definitely up for more.
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Antonya Nelson is the author of nine books of fiction, including Nothing Right and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobody’s Girl, and Living to Tell. Nelson’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook, and many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA ...more
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