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Alone With You

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Eight indelible stories that mine the complexities of modern relationships and the unexpected ways love manifests itself.

Marisa Silver dazzled and inspired readers with her critically acclaimed The God of War (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist), praised by Richard Russo as “a novel of great metaphorical depth and beauty.” In this elegant, finely wrought new
Hardcover, 164 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  369 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Jul 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Cynthia
3 and 1/2 stars (for what I think is an uneven collection)

I don't know if these stories were written over several years, but I'd bet I could guess which ones came before others. While some of the stories are stupendous, a few, even while carrying some original insights, jarred with lazy or facile phrasing here and there that took me out of what I was reading. Perhaps I was dissatisfied with those few, because I'd read "Night Train to Frankfurt" in The New Yorker (also included here and worth the
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Suzanne by: reviews of Silver's other work
Shelves: short-story
I’ve seen many great reactions to Marisa Silver’s other books, so I picked this up to try her out. Uneven, but still impressive. The first few of these eight stories left me fairly cold, but I absolutely loved the other four, so it gets 4 stars overall. Most of the stories revolve around parent-child relationships.

My favorites:

“Pond” examines a father’s conflicted feelings about his twenty-something daughter who is autistic and little more than a child herself when she gets pregnant during an
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
You can see sunlight through Silver's prose. It's like a spider's web without the cloy. But suddenly you're in tears. As I read I kept looking back at the cover art of Hopper's `Sunlight In Cafeteria' with his characteristic use of light flowing across a casually gussied up woman and a suit clad, bespectacled man who gazes at her as she looks down at her coffee. They sit opposite one another but at different tables, both alone and separate though just a few feet from one another lost in their ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are the books you admire because they're excellent examples of the kind of book you also write. And then there are the books you admire because you could never have written them in a million years. Marisa Silver's short story collection, Alone With You falls firmly in the latter category. I'm taken by the oblique way she tells a story--trusting the reader's mind to put together the small pieces of a collage into a satisfying whole. The impact of these low-key stories surprised me, how the ...more
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Another forgettable short story collection! I remember that one tale had some arty types living in a loft, and someone had cancer in one of them, and there was also maybe a camel. Other than that, there were the typical unresolved endings and a lot of spoiled, unpleasant people being spoiled and unpleasant. Nine times out of ten, I should just stop with the modern short story collections, huh? But that one time...that elusive one time...! Dammit. We all already know that I never learn.
John Wyszniewski
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
I’m disappointed with this collection of short stories. Formulaic in structure and subject matter, Marisa Silver does have a strong voice and possesses a subtle way of revealing emotional layers through her characters. However, none of them spoke to me in a powerful way.
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
The last two stories were pretty good. The author is a good short story writer, I just didn't care for the stories that much. They don't stick with you like Elizabeth Strout or Ron Rash or Ethin Canin or Tim Winton. Maybe if the subject matter were a little more compelling....
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Snapshots of relationships. Left me hanging.
Sep 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
(1.3/5.0) Insubstantial and often exhausted.
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
“Their ski lift tickets were attached to the zippers of their jackets like price tags” (68).

I could have given this 2.5 stars; it is well-written, just not terribly interesting.
Alyssa Knickerbocker
Lovely, but somehow forgettable...
Sahar Sabati
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read really fast and was expecting to finish this small, 153-page book relatively quickly, all the more that it’s a collection of short stories.

How wrong I was.

Alone With You: Stories is one of the most compelling and honest portrayals of human nature written by a (relatively) new author that I have read in a long time. Emotions are treated like the multidimensional and exquisitely complex things they are rather than the boiled down version we are often treated to in contemporary literature.
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Marisa Silver's protagonists reflect on a variety of life issues--divorce, grandparenthood, depression--from a uniquely not-quite-middle-aged female perspective. The writing is predominantly excellent, with a lovely subtlety to it; Silver can extend a theme without hitting the reader over the head with it. The themes of sex, love and death have universal appeal. The abrupt endings with their notes of commencement feel so deliberately crafted as to make me think the author has really studied the ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
For the most part, I thought that the stories in this collection lacked in both focus and resolution, with Silver's simple language and focus on ordinary domestic characters in unextraordinary circumstances contributing to this meandering feeling.

But! The last two stories, "In the New World" and the title story, "Alone With You," were fantastic. Both are similar in motif, in part about a parent observing his or her teenage or young adult son's awakening to the opposite sex. Where Silver takes
Kate Walker
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
These are very lovely short stories, haunting and tinged with melancholy, though never despairing or maudlin in any way. We watch as the various characters come to see themselves more fully, as unexpected events bring life into sharper, sometimes startling focus. Each story is separate and yet similar in theme, as the beautifully and well-named title reveals. This collection is about the ways in which couples and families connect and the circumstances and character flaws that keep them from ...more
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-story
Marisa Silver's talent is undeniable. She writes about alienation, confusion, and intimacy with precision, clarity, and intelligence. My favorite stories were "Temporary" and "Alone With You." I'm giving this collection three stars because it was safe and lacked variety; all the stories are written in close third, all of them are cluttered with distracting similes, and all of them employ the same structure of jumping back and forth in time till the past and the present collide the final few ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Marisa Silver is a talented writer who notices the quiet details of everyday life. She is adept at bringing disparate situations to life with vivid details and sharp dialogue. In each story, she toggles back and forth between different situations and times, ultimately bringing the two pieces together into one coherent whole to highlight some sort of lesson learned in sharp relief. This technique is more effective in some stories than others. While I thought Silver's observations and dialogue ...more
Jul 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I really never thought I cared much for short stories until this summer. I guess I just hadn't been reading the right collections. ...

Marisa Silver's writing is amazing. You can really see the work that she had to put forth to develop these short stories so that the characters and the plot were able to unfold, without being allowed the latitude to fill each story with the fluff that flies around in so many novels. The constraints of this form really showcased her writing talent. (I think it
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Most of the stories are about women's relationships to one another and to the men in their life, with the exception of a story about a Polish laborer and his son. The themes are heavy - death and disfigurement, Down's syndrome, infidelity - but their gentle and honest treatment left me feeling somehow lighter. All of her characters find some way to carry on, like Dorothy in "Night Train to Frankfurt" as she stumbles outside the clinic that houses a last-ditch effort to battle cancer: "The path ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
The first 3 stories are bad and the next 3 are atrocious, with infidelity and defects of body or mind driving every single plot. The book was well on its way to a 1-star rating when Silver pulled it together to actually write one good story, "In the New World", in which she deftly handles the thoughts of a Polish immigrant contractor as he traverses a relationship with his wife and irresponsible son, along with a potentially difficult client. This was the only story during which I thought Silver ...more
Robert Blumenthal
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This slim volume has many treats in store for the reader. The stories are rather simple, but are quite provocative as well. The author has the rare ability to create characters and make them so real, with all their foibles, so that you fell you have met someone new by the end of each story. My favorite involves a middle-aged woman traveling with her ill mother through Germany (Night Train to Frankfurt) in search of a clinic to receive a "miracle" cure for the mother's terminal cancer. The author ...more
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Short stories are sad. Well, these ones are. I'm still thinking about the title story, which ends the book. These were beautifully crafted, but sometimes so well-crafted that it was difficult not to notice the craft, and lose myself in the story, which is my favorite part of reading, so this was not my favorite reading experience. I feel like a need a unicorn chaser of happy endings. Maybe fall is just too sad a season to read this book. Which was good! You should read it! With peppy music in ...more
Jun 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Silver writes good prose and is especially fond of the simile, but she also litters her stories with generic rhetoric that doesn't contribute to the characters or plot. She also uses the same voice for every story, so, instead of reading various stories about mothers, wives, and daughters losing their connection to their lives, I felt as if I was reading the same story over and over. Only "In the New World" - the only story told from a man's point of view - stayed with me.
Nov 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I couldnt decide whether to give this book 2 or 3 stars. My expectations were high for this book. I felt that I was enjoying it at first, but then realized that the stories became less interesting. None of the characters were gripping and some elements of the plot were repetitive throughout the book. I especially did not like the way most of the stories ended. For the most part they seemed unfinished and wishy washy.
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2013
This is a beautiful collection of short stories. Several times I would read back over a line or passage to fully appreciate the beauty. Silver's writing is graceful and I was disappointed that several of the stories ended. I wanted to read more and know how things resolved for her characters. A gem.
There are some strong pieces in this collection, but it’s uneven on the whole. The stories are written with an extreme subtlety that I found impressive in places but may not be satisfying to readers who prefer clearly announced themes and tidy conclusions. I’m curious how this compares to Silver’s other books, so I plan to read another.
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
The stories in this book are beautiful and heartbreaking, just like good short stories should be. The characters quickly wormed their way into my heart as they dealt with tragic but everyday issues, and they stayed there after the stories were finished.
Heather Colacurcio
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Marisa Silver really understands the human experience, an understanding that is present throughout each of the stories in this collection. Not since I've read the work of Raymond Carver have I felt so deeply for characters.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got this from a used bookstore on whim and was very pleasantly surprised. As with any collection of short stories, I loved some more than others, but there wasn't a story in this collection that I particularly disliked.
Colleen Wainwright
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My god, can this woman write. In that really amazing way where it seems like a little nothing, yet reveals everything: "oblique", as another reviewer said here, which is, of course, the only thing for a short story to be. Off to find the rest of her back catalog.
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Marisa Silver is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, Mary Coin (published by Blue Rider Press, March 7th, 2013).

Marisa Silver directed her first film, Old Enough, while she studied at Harvard University. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1984, when Silver was 23. Silver went on to direct three more feature films, Permanent Record (1988), with Keanu Reeves, Vital
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