YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY IT
Written by: Curtis Sittenfeld
Read by: Emily Rankin & Mark Deakins
Penguin Random House Audio | Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Fiction – Short Stories (single author)
Release Date: April 24, 2018
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
A suburban mother of two fantasizes about the downfall of an old friend whose wholesome lifestyle empire may or may not be built on a lie. A high-powered lawyer honeymooning with her husband is caught off guard by the appearance of the girl who tormented her in high school. A shy Ivy League student learns the truth about a classmate’s seemingly enviable life.
Curtis Sittenfeld has established a reputation as a sharp chronicler of the modern age who humanizes her subjects even as she skewers them. Now, with this first collection of short fiction, her “astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads” (The Washington Post) is showcased like never before. Throughout the ten stories in You Think It, I’ll Say It, Sittenfeld upends assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided.
With moving insight and uncanny precision, Curtis Sittenfeld pinpoints the questionable decisions, missed connections, and sometimes extraordinary coincidences that make up a life. Indeed, she writes what we’re all thinking—if only we could express it with the wit of a master satirist, the storytelling gifts of an old-fashioned raconteur, and the vision of an American original. http://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/558519/you-think-it-ill-say-it/
With a variety of characters of varying ages, classes, education, etc. Rankin and Deakins have a particularly tough task in narrating this book but they succeed with gender, age, and accent. But, it is not overly acted. I really liked Deakin’s no-nonsense delivery
Sittenfeld’s work dwells in the more excruciating and/or embarrassing parts of life: drunken sexual encounters, failed advances, unrequited crushes – or just crushes, the horrible “coming-of-age” (is there ever a pleasant coming of age story?). In one story, a successful female lawyer marries a guy she thinks is out of her league; it points to how even the best educated among us (women) still measure ourselves by looks and wonder about what men see in us. The same story looks at how a relationship works when a woman with low self-esteem makes more money and the gender roles our society still expects. But, while the stories look at cringe-worthy situations they did not make me cringe or feel uncomfortable. The story that gives the book its title is about unrealistic expectations, unrequited affection, reading signals wrong. It’s the story of a loving marriage that’s been settled into, and how attention can bring on attachment.
Some stories also address life in this country under the current administration. It doesn’t look at how we got here, or where were going; rather it acknowledges the new regime in relation to the characters and moves on.
I am not usually a huge fan of short format fiction but these are so well-crafted I did not feel cheated about losing the characters at the end of each story. I sometimes feel that short stories are just “studies” for larger work in the same way an artist may make a study of a painting before diving into a larger work. Although some of these deal with class and education like her previous work, PREP, I didn’t feel that they were just “studies” in that way. I do find short stories are good when you have a limited attention span, like on a beach, or a plane, or when you are recovering from a illness. But these are long enough to be enjoyable in and of themselves.
If you like short stories, and contemporary literary fiction — women’s fiction some would say — then this well-crafted group of stories highlighting some of the harder parts of relationships in a non-depressing way then I recommend Curtis Sittenfeld’s YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY IT.