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This Cake is for the Party: Stories

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,155 ratings  ·  156 reviews
"Finalist for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Frank O Connor Award" Sarah Selecky s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with the best of intentions, only to have plans thwarted or hopes betrayed. These are stories about friendships and relationships confused by unsettling tensions bubbling beneath ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 8th 2010 by Thomas Allen Publishers (first published October 31st 2003)
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Amanda Leduc
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The ten stories in This Cake are mostly (with one or two exceptions) first person narratives, and each of the stories deals with a particular grasp on human sadness and disappointment. In Throwing Cotton, the protagonist struggles with suspicions of her husband's infidelity while simultaneously trying to get pregnant. In Watching Atlas, the male protagonist deals with the reality of a dead-end job and the creeping anger he feels with his partner's childhood pal, a drunk who is all too ready to d ...more
Tobin Elliott
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-copy
This is going to be one of the tougher reviews for me to write. There's a lot going on in these ten seemingly quiet, unassuming stories. Each one is its own world yet there's a few common threads that run through them all.

The first is a quiet desperation. Each of Selecky's characters--all beautifully realized with a quirky yet minimalist touch--seem to be desperately searching for something...understanding, friendship, love, success... So at times, they all seem to come from the same village. Ye
...more
Ruth Seeley
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Selecky is a 21st Century Canadian Ann Beattie. This is a remarkably consistently strong collection that should, in my view, have won the 2010 Giller Prize.

Her characters lead complicated lives. Sometimes the complications are of their own making - the 'ironic bride' who can't resist having an affair immediately before her wedding, the teenage girl whose rebellion coincides with her widowed father's descent into abject misery, the woman who's finally ready to have a child but isn't, really.... O
...more
Barbara McVeigh
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed these stories, but would like to read them in print. This collection was one of my early forays on an e-reader. Short stories are hard to read on a device because a human reader needs to be able to quickly flip back and forth and re-read significant parts to understand how the writer led him or her to the a-ha moment.
AC
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I never was into short stories. I thought they were a waste of time. I guess I just thought the novel was the better, "higher" format of the written word. But then I realized that, reading short stories is what made me fall in love with reading. After all, it was in grammar school where I read all of those short stories in whatever anthology textbook we were required to read in class.

I came across Sarah Selecky because of Twitter. I follow the Canadian writer Margaret Attwood. She recommended re
...more
Susan
Apr 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
A compilation of short stories from Sarah Selecky filled with angst-ridden, desperate characters. Some stories are descriptive with no focus, whereas some are purely random and did not capture any emotion or connection for me. It fell sorely short of all the reviews I had read and I was hoping for greater vividness of character and imagination on the author's part.

In comparison to Jhumpa Lahiri's incredible short stories, these plots and characters failed to resonate with me. Lahiri's prose and
...more
Ti
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Short of It:

Never has such an unassuming collection of stories held my attention from beginning to end.

The Rest of It:

I love quiet stories and if they center around relationships, even better. From the very first page, I found myself falling right into this book. You know that feeling? That feeling where everything around you stands still and all you can focus on is the book in front of you? That is the feeling I had while reading these stories. When this book was in my hands, nothing else s
...more
Anabelle Bernard Fournier
A man with a hard decision to make about the neighbour’s boy. A woman who tries to sell health products to her friends. Two couples entangled in infidelity. A woman writing a letter to her estranged husband’s mother. A young woman in love with a man… and his ex-girlfriend. A fire in the candle factory.

These are a few of the stories in Sarah Selecky’s This Cake Is for the Party, nominated for the Giller prize in 2010.

I read this book because I’m currently taking Sarah’s Story is a State of Mind e
...more
Miz Moffatt
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Sarah Selecky dazzles with ten taut, smartly searing stories in her first published collection, This Cake Is for the Party. Selecky levels her gaze upon a younger generation whose best intentions unravel in the face of hidden truths, betrayal, and unsettling tensions riding just below the surface.

Stand out pieces include "Go-Manchura," in which a lonesome introvert embroils herself in a health food pyramid scheme, and the heartbreaking "Where Are You Coming From, Sweetheart?", in which a young g
...more
Robin Spano
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This Cake is so depressing. But the writing is amazing. I kept flipping and flipping and stayed up late reading. There aren't enough stars in the rating system to express how impressed I am with this book.

Sarah Selecky makes me think of a younger, hipper Alice Munro. The writing is that clear, and that deep. The book is filled with juicy details that make every character distinct - hard to do with ten short stories where new people are introduced every few pages.

Like with Alice Munro's writing,
...more
Staci
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this collection of 10 short stories by Sarah Selecky. This Cake is for the Party is full of unexpected enjoyment. I admire how this collection is like a snack cake...something I crave! I would highly suggest this to anyone looking for a unique new writer. I am giving it a 5 star and sharing it with my college literature professors.

My rating system is as follows:

5 stars - Excellent, Worth Every Penny, Made It Into My Personal Library!
4 stars - Great book, but not a classic.
3 stars - Good
...more
tinabel
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A brilliant collection of short fiction from highly perceptive debut author, Sarah Selecky. Wry, clever, complex, and beautifully crafted, it's no wonder This Cake Is for the Party was shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Whether self-deprecating or self-entitled, Selecky's characters are vivid, intense, and realistic—most unable to overcome their all-too-human foibles. Hesitant, lonely, guarded, and sometimes outright suspicious, nearly all of them are unhappy in their relationship
...more
Breanna
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Breanna by: Megan
I read this book as part of my summer book club. It’s not a book I would normally have read, which in my opinion is never a bad thing. There were some stories I liked and some that I didn’t. I did see once discussing it with some pretty smart ladies that each story could lead to a lot of different conclusions, depending on your perspective. I think maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t felt rushed to finish for a deadline and had spent more time reflecting as I read.
It’s nice when the
...more
Ann Douglas
Nov 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the first time I've purchased a book because it made on of the "big" lists (in this case, The 2010 Giller Prize list). I was drawn to the book for a couple of reasons: because the title is so intriguing, because the cover is so eye-catching, and because I am addicted to short stories.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It covers interesting turf. The characters struggle with relationships (some more than others) and they live in a world that is familiar to me geographically and, in some cases, th
...more
Crackedspine
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Strong collection without any weak entries added to fill out the book (a frequent problem with short story collections, imho).

Most of the stories seem just long enough. They develop satisfying characters and give you some real meat to dig into. Surprising but believable shifts are a delight throughout.

My only complaint is that I'd like a wider scope of topics, characters and settings. There's much to explore in the dissatisfied lives of (relatively) privileged young adults, but sometimes I was
...more
Mary
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up at the library because I'm thinking of taking an online class from this writer. Because I had a lot of trouble with insomnia this week, I had extra time to read (always look on the bright side). I tore through the entire collection in no time flat and was impressed overall. The stories were very well-observed slices of life that were just indirect enough that I could put the pieces together myself but not so open-ended that I wondered what the point was. These stories left me intr ...more
Tania
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My first foray into the short story genre and I was not let down. They're clever and wicked. Just slightly mysterious until the last line, without giving the complete story away. Just enough to make you go "Hmmm...". On a side note, I also got the suspicion that I found out a lot about the author herself. I got the sense she writes about what she actually knows, what she has actually experienced in life; dinner parties with other creative types... and slowly their secret lives coming out after o ...more
Zara
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful collection of quiet, meaningful stories centered around relationships, human imperfection, and the sharing of food. As is always the case with such collections, some of the stories impacted me more than others, but each is a gem of its own accord. Sarah Selecky's writing is exquisite and graceful, not at all flashy or obtrusive. Possibly the best short story collection I've ever read, and I'm greatly looking forward to eventually reading the novel she's currently writing on one of th ...more
Magdelanye
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The characters in these diffident, deceptively casual slices of life are all pretty much in denial despite their quirky attempts to smooth over the chasms lurking just below their awareness.
unfortunately, the feeling of unease that is an undercurrent in most of the stories, has translated itself to me so that I felt a bit like the broken plate on the cover, left with crumbs.
and how weird that the title story for this collection is not included.
.
Kara
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. The author's voice is incredibly confident. I was immediately drawn in to every single story. I just felt like they ended too soon....every time. It felt like a cop-out - like the author was trying too hard to be post-postmodern. Maybe I feel that way because I got so caught up in the few pages of each story that I felt betrayed when they ended so abruptly just when things would have gotten really interesting!
Danielle
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for a good short story compilation and Sarah Selecky knocks it out of the park with these little slice of love narratives from people who seem all too real. These are stories about our friends, our lovers, ourselves. I was really impressed with the way she was able to latch on to all these different stories but only leading us to one central conflict or story in each of them. That takes a strong writer with a lot of trust in her characters.
Jennifer Louden
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I adore Sarah's writing and her blog. She is going to be a great, great writer and I could not finish these stories because they depressed me. Her characters - at least in the first 5 stories - felt so aimless and unaware, and their lives rather bleak. I couldn't bear reading anymore. But again, the writing is near perfection.
Tricia
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was refreshing to read a book of short stories. I'm currently using Sarah's daily writing prompts from her blog and I was curious to read her work. Her descriptions inspire and she got me thinking about writing short stories or essays instead of thinking of the overwhelming task of writing a book. Sarah is a true talent.
Julie
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This collection of character-driven stories is full of vivid details that range from achingly ordinary to quirky to meaningful and even sublime. I love how much Selecky trusts her readers to become as deeply involved in her stories as she and her characters are. Every story does a masterful job of fulfilling Joy Williams’ essential attributes of the short story, particularly #1: “There should be a clean clear surface with much disturbance below.”

I’m not going to try to fit the stories I liked be
...more
Gisele
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories was a Christmas present from my sister who knew the author as a little girl. Let me preface this critique by saying that I am not usually a fan of short story collections. The author introduces the readers to characters and sets up their stories only to have them last but a few pages. Short stories always leave me wanting more...which for an author, I guess is not a bad thing. This collection is superbly written...most excellent excellent writing! Granted the sto ...more
Angela
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: good-riddance
Yawn. The author is technically skilled*, but it hardly seems important when each of the slice of life stories about suburban, middle-aged hippies seem to blur together in an unexciting mass. Of the ten stories, I'd say there might—and this is a strong "might"—be one that's worthy of a re-read. This book is utterly pointless unless you have the burning desire to glimpse into the life of a pyramid scheme rep, candlemaker, or widow hosting a garage sale.

*Side note: I wish authors would stop thinki
...more
Steph Green
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, grounded stories. I was turned on to Sarah Selecky by a writing instructor, who exhorted our entire workshop to read "Where Are You Coming From, Sweetheart?" The ending of that story made me gasp -- actually -- with its beauty. Selecky is a master at telling vivid, compelling stories of ordinary people living ordinary lives. I read this entire collection in one afternoon at the airport.
Kate
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
The writing is extraordinary - Sarah is an amazing writer. Truly.

But this book reminded me why I generally don't like short stories. They were all so depressing and filled with not really very likeable characters. Confession: I didn't finish, so maybe there were delightful, happy characters in the last 1/3 of the book. But I couldn't do it.

HOWEVER, if you LIKE that kind of story, Sarah's writing really is spectacular.
Kirsten
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I decided to read this book because I was a student in Sarah's "The Story Intensive" course this fall. I wanted to know what kind of writer she was, and I was not disappointed. Her characters are charming and awful and flawed and fascinating and I flew through the stories. My favorites were "Paul Fahrenbacher's Yard Sale" and "One Thousand Wax Buddhas."
Jennifer
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writing, the writing, the writing. In my opinion, superb. No one gets to borrow my copy because I know I'll be rereading this many times (like Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies. Yes, they're totally different but equally exceptional). Having said that, I admit that, with some books, I admire the craft of writing, the way things are expressed, the syntax, sometimes to the point of distraction. Then I'm not focusing on character development or plot. So again, for me, the writing, the ...more
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Sarah is the author of Radiant Shimmering Light, This Cake Is for the Party, and the founder of the Sarah Selecky Writing School, est. 2011, which is now a creative community of more than 18,000 writers from around the world. She is alumna of Hedgebrook, the Humber School for Writers and The Banff Centre, and graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Creative Writing.

This Ca
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“Everyone expected that we’d want to try again. But Robin said no, and I understood. And, you know, the world just went on. Our friends’ kids grew up and we all kept making up our lives the way we always did. We turned out okay.” 4 likes
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