Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HOW IT WAS FOR ME by Andrew Sean Greer



by Andrew Sean Greer

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-24105-4
Publisher: Picador

A debut collection full of the usual suspects: people who have made bad decisions, who have married wrong, or who are

inexplicably sad about life and . . . go on and on about it. Then, at the close, they experience a brief epiphany.

Greer is good at the set-up. There is a substitute tutor who takes his charge to prep-school interviews not knowing until

the end that the little fellow is relating to the deans of each institution the tall tales and personal anecdotes with which the tutor

has been amusing him. A young boy’s mother forgets her lines in the middle of a small-town production of The Mikado, and

life seems to unravel afterward. A man and woman marry in college not because they’re in love but because they’re gay and

want the cover that a marriage will give. Ultimately, however, they find that their platonic love survives their deepest lust for

others. These stories, though, are spun out of the loosest yarn. Images are strained (“The autumn trees are quaking their crisp

hands above it all, dropping them in dozens to the field, lurid hands or gloves thrown into a ring”), the writing awkward (“.

. . James Hilary feebly adjusting a bright bow tie in his seat”). All but one piece are marred by an omniscient narrator who,

like an irritating companion at a movie, cannot resist the temptation to interrupt the story and tell us what lies ahead: “This thing

they both believed in, despite the common sense that it would fail (and it would fail).” The strongest piece, “Come Live with

Me and Be My Love”—about the college kids who marry—has few of these intrusions and Greer doesn’t engage in vague poetic

image-making. Instead, he creates two people who act and react for discernible purposes and whose lives might matter to a

reader for the time it takes to turn these pages.

A newcomer with a promising imagination—and at least one good story to his credit.