Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review - Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

In what is likely to be the last book I finish this year, I read the final story in Maile Meloy's 2009 story collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It last night. I enjoyed an earlier collection of stories by Meloy, and really liked this one as well. There are eleven stories here, with strong recurring themes or relationships, desire, and choices to be made. Meloy's prose is simple but elegant, and the stories fly by. The stories tend to highlight the darker side of relationships, or at least the unspoken side; the restlessness and the questioning...

The door in the front hallway opened. "Hello!" he called, and Naomi felt as if a guitar string in her lower abdomen had just been plucked, and left to vibrate, by the sound of his voice. She believed these responses were biological tricks to propagate the species, but that didn't make them lose their power. She had never felt that way when her husband spoke, though he was a good and decent man. [p. 97]

She watched him, his eminently intelligent wife. He pulled her closer to make the scrutiny stop, and feeling her head on his shoulder was reassuring. He was doomed to ambivalence and desire. A braver man, or a more cowardly one, would simply flee. A happier or more complacent man would stay and revel in the the familiar, wrap it around him like an old bathrobe. He seemed to be none of these things, and could only deceive the people he loved, and then disappoint and worry them when they saw through him. There was a poem Meg had brought home from college, with the line "Both ways is the only way I want it." The force with which he wanted it both ways made him grit his teeth. What kind of fool wanted it only one way? [pp. 196-197]

4.5 stars out of 5. I really really liked this collection, and thought it was one of the better story collections I have read this year, or in many years.

Books read this year: 31 [totalling 7,096 pages]
Published in 2010: still 17
New authors: still 16
Classics: still 3

I have started a new novel, Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists, but given my limited time and attention span during the holidays, stand no chance of finishing it before the end of the year.

No comments:

Post a Comment