Twenty-six women write of failed romances.
Broussard tries to ride a wave of adolescent feminism that’s sweeping the land by compiling a collection predicated on an artificial men-are-jerks foundation. This “is the kind of book I’d enjoy reading after a breakup,” she tells us. “Think of it as the literary equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream—delicious any time, but especially appropriate for times of PMS or heartbreak.” Only five of the stories have appeared previously, and all are given single-word titles, each presumably a facet of failing love. Permit a sampling. “We were good-looking Americans, too, gleaming with a kind of ironic roadtrip sexy,” begins Heidi Julavits’s “Ambivalence,” perhaps unwittingly pinpointing the reason why just the trip through Mexico won’t seem romantically perfect for long. Thisbe Nissen’s “Etiquette” is nothing more than upscale self-help, not resembling a story. “Regret,” by Jennifer Weiner, tells the old love story from the point of view of a daughter who winds up caught in the crossfire. Dana Johnson’s couple, contemplating a “Threesome,” quickly learns that in such endeavors someone invariably gets squeezed, and Susan Minot (“Green”) contributes what reads essentially like a one-act play of lovers discussing and encountering ex-lovers on the ripe occasion of a wedding. Other contributors include Elizabeth Benedict, Pam Houston, and Anna Maxted. The theme here—if you can call it that—wearies quickly, but what can you expect from an editor who blames her ex for the book’s very existence: “Tony, thank you. If you hadn’t been such a prick, this book would’ve never come into being.”
Thin and born, apparently, of bitterness.