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Baby & Other Stories Paperback – December 15, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 10 raw and angry stories, Bomer flays the idea of happy little families, giving readers an assortment of emasculated and discarded husbands; brooding, unfulfilled wives; and the poor children--destined for therapy--unlucky enough to bind them. Bomer's characters, Brooklynites for the most part, having been coddled by adoring mothers, raised in upper-middle-class homes, and propelled from Ivy League colleges, now shrink from "the cold reality of the indifference of the universe." For Lara in the title story, having a baby turned into bitter disappointment once she realizes that winning the "ultimate contest" really entails a life of drudgery. Bomer's characters spew many ungracious thoughts, but these are forthright, hilarious, and honest, as with Edie, the snarly mother of two grown sons, who so evidently favors her golden Thomas over the needy Michael, "who was uncoordinated, who needed glasses, who clung to her as a boy too big to be clinging to his mother," that she exults in his unhappiness as a newly married man and father. This lacerating take on marriage and motherhood is not one to share with the Mommy and Me group. (Dec.) (c)
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From Booklist

Eight of these 10 stories were published in literary magazines or on online fiction sites. Bomer writes about men and women disillusioned by the comparison between their fantasies and the real-life choices that they make. Set in cities, vacation destinations, and college towns, these are stories of betrayal and ennui, of despair engendered by the traumas of daily life. Many of her hard-to-like characters are surrounded by equally unlikeable people. The deftness of character portrayal will ensure that readers continue to work through the stories despite the heaviness of their subjects. Stories such as “A Galloping Infection,” in which a man refuses to interrupt his vacation to take his sick wife to the doctor, and “The Second Son,” which vividly depicts details of the ends of two pregnancies, promise one ending while surprising with another. Other stories have open-ended conclusions, leaving threads unfinished and readers guessing. Buy this for fans of character-driven fiction, for lovers of Roth and Updike, and for flourishing short story collections. --Ellen Loughran

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Word Riot Press (December 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977934373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977934379
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,833,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the author of Nine Months (Soho Press, 2012), Baby and other Stories (Word Riot Press, 2010) and the forthcoming collection, Inside Madeleine (Soho Press, 2014). I'm also the publisher and editor of Sententia Books and Sententia: A Literary Journal.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Bomer's book was recommended to me by a friend. I read mostly historical biography's so Baby was out of my domain. The innocuous title, I must admit, caught me a little off guard. I was expecting something that perhaps could lull me to sleep. This was not the case.

I started the book on a late Friday evening and finished early Saturday morning. Far from what I thought the title hinted at in terms of the content, Bomer took me into a land of contemporary human suffering and the psychology that motivates people to act in reaction to their given circumstances.

From a analytical perspective Bomer takes the "Baby" and uses that, in her series of short stories, as a fulcrum to test the characters in her book. She did not hold back. In her work, Bomer weaves all the tangential elements of relationships. She explores the roles of sex, economics, education, sibling rivalry, paternal interference and class mobility in away that is shockingly accurate.

And disturbing. Yes, disturbing. The characters are believable and well developed. Bomer also plays with the reader by not fully resolving the conflicts entirely but leaving the reader only to speculate on how things ultimately turn out. I felt it was like hear a musician playing a scale and leaving the last note out - leaving it to me to mentally play the last note.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There is some rather explicit sexual content. The sexual content however is absolutely necessary to understanding the motivation of her characters and the pain that they are experiencing.

Bomer is a writer. No question about it. She put on paper the dark truths that exist on some conscious level (which are neatly put in some corner of the mind) and guides the reader on how those thoughts unwittingly command her characters to act.

Would I recommend this book to someone? Already have.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard about Ms. Bomer's book of short stories in an online magazine article. I was intrigued enough that I purchased the book. I was not disappointed. I found the book to be filled with short stories that were angry, despairing, bitter, raw and dissolute.

Many stories deal with the angst and existential loneliness of people, even (and maybe especially) those in relationships. Those with families feel alienated and frightened. Nothing comes out like expected and the ideal does not exist except as a fleeting idea.

The characters are mostly affluent and educated people, disenchanted with their lives and their families. They are graduates of Smith, Middlebury, and Connecticut College. Unlike the wonderful writers Donald Ray Pollack and Raymond Carver who write about the poor and disenfranchised, and the cultural calamities that they face, Bomer examines the dysfunction and poverty of life of the more affluent and educated.

There is the wife who can't get her husband to leave home until she holds a knife to her neck and threatens to kill herself, the man who believes that his life's trauma results from having to watch his wife give birth. There is a woman trapped in a loveless marriage, governed by her own anger and alcoholism. She can only feel anger, rage, resentment and disappointment. These are typical feelings shared by many of the characters that people Bomer's stories.

Many of the stories deal with the dynamics of marriage once children are present. There is the family where one child 'belongs' to the father and the other to the mother. In another story, the father is the odd man out. In yet another, a mother tries to appease the child she loves by paying more attention to the child she loves less.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found Bomer's stories filled with the kind of brutal honesty that people think, but don't say out loud, when it comes to having and raising a family. I also like that she's taken all of her stories into different perspectives with each new character introduced: from a doting mother and a dissonant father to their polar opposites--all the while maintaining that gut-wrenching sense of self-truth that few authors explore, while exploring that same theme throughout.

My only criticism, which is minor, lies in the hype of the book's marketing; I myself write horror stories. The only thing that should shock people about this kind of writing is that, when they read the title "Baby," their expectations wind up a bit different from what they arrive at after they've put the book down--whether they've finished it or not. The idealistic hermits that can't handle Baby don't deserve the kind of insight that Bomer provides in her stories. However, in my case, when you've written tales involving gory murders, mass genocide, and introspective, suicidal self-loathing, reading Baby is a stroll in the park: albeit, a very, very insightful walk. I'd recommend this book to anyone that isn't pregnant.
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Format: Kindle Edition
From a craft perspective, these aren't poorly written short stories, but nothing about them strikes me as interesting, unique, or special. Most of them seem variants of the same situation and characters and the lack of diversity was underwhelming.

I guess my main thought while trudging through this book was that the writer lacks a understanding of subtlety and momentum. These stories don't allow themselves room for development; everything from meaning, to plot, to characterization, hits the reader like a shovel, oftentimes at the very beginning of the story
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