2007: 3. Jenny and the Jaws of Life

“After I moved to Illinois, my sister and I wrote to each other once a year, if that, and neither of us liked to take long-distance.  We were happier apart.  I could never see Julie, or hear her voice, without becoming at some point, then or later, aware of our drab and banal defeat.”

Jenny and the Jaws of Life, Jincy Willett

I read this because it was recommended so highly on 50 Books , and it caught my eye when I happened to be in the book store, looking for something by Wodehouse. I am extremely glad for the recommendation. I had read Willett’s Winner of the National Book Award, and only liked it ok – I found her satire hard to maintain over an entire novel, and ended up feeling more sorry for her characters than anything else. However, what didn’t necessarily work in a novel works perfectly in a book of short stories, and these stories are gems – short, sharp, edgy gems, funny but with a kernal of emotional truth in them. I was particularly taken by “The Haunting of the Lingards,” where a couple’s perfect marriage is destroyed by what seems like the most trivial thing, but honestly, all of them left me wanting more (as all short stories do), while realizing that Willett is a master of this form.


Recommend for: People who like dark humor, people who like perfectly crafted short stories, people who like David Sedaris (he wrote the introduction on the new edition) with a mean streak


Date/Place Completed: 01/04/07, DC

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017