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Don't Kiss Me: Stories Paperback – July 2, 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hunter’s (Daddy’s, 2010) sophomore collection depicts oversexed underachievers barely afloat in a sea of violence, abuse, and confusion. Yet these 26 stories, deeply internalized in neurotic lyricism, are hilarious and fully realized portraits of the disavowed. Sidelined during a high-school dance, a group of girls recalls exploring each other’s bodies in the locker room. A grown woman studies relationship magazines to help decode her complicated nine-year-old boyfriend. A retired Richard Nixon, lamenting his wife’s aging body, flirts with an admirer while sipping Scotch on the beach and dreaming of Jackie Kennedy. A lonely spinster nurtures stray cats until she receives a visit not from her Indonesian crush but from Animal Control. A band of misfits living in a roaming RV survives on road kill and stolen goods. And in the uproarious title story, a woman obsesses over a female coworker she envies and despises. Miranda July and George Saunders come to mind, but Hunter’s crass yet tender characters are unprecedented, relating fart jokes and impossible sentiment in stylized prose that mirrors their threadbare souls and ineffectual optimism. --Jonathan Fullmer

Review

“Mesmerizing . . . visceral . . . exquisite. Hunter's portraits are heartbreaking. She cares about characters we don't want to think about, issues we would rather not face. These are not lovable characters; they make you sad and sometimes sick. But Hunter wants to know: Who are these girls inside? She doesn't shy from speaking their truths. And reading these stories? They kind of make you feel like your heart could kick the windows out.” ―Hope Reese, Chicago Tribune

“Hunter's stories feel incredibly urgent. Hunter is such a talented writer that she makes the unimaginably unpleasant seem natural, and terrifyingly so . . . Those who've read Hunter's excellent debut, Daddy's, won't be surprised by her feats. If that collection announced a formidable and refreshing prose stylist, Don't Kiss Me cements that reputation.” ―Eugenia Williamson, The Boston Globe

“The cover alone is great, but what's inside will make you laugh and scream and cringe and cry--in the best of ways, of course.” ―Jen Doll, "25 Books to Beach-Read This Summer," New York Magazine

“Hunter is remarkably talented at taking sentences and twining them around the brain, creating a beautiful pattern out of ugliness . . . use[ing] language as a tool to excavate our entrenched humanity.” ―Michele Filgate, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Hunter's magical prose is the sort of thing that might happen if George Saunders and Gertrude Stein co-edited Raymond Carver. The stories vary wildly in pace and procedure, but each has its own visceral language that goes straight to the gut.” ―Ashley Baker, Nylon

“The collection creates a genuine sense of discomfort, forcing us to contemplate the presence of beauty in the ugliest of phenomena.” ―Angela Sundstrom, Time Out New York

Don't Kiss Me, Hunter's second short story collection, is a bold, haunting, and beautiful observation of lives lived outside the scope of the mainstream . . . Hunter near-effortlessly captures the hopes, fears, realizations, regrets, and desires of the uglier, more taboo, and misunderstood side of humanity. Though their worlds may be sordid, Hunter manages to infuse her misfits with incredible amounts of empathy and humor. Instead of repulsed, we often find ourselves rooting from the sidelines. And it's hard not to voraciously ingest all 26 stories in Don't Kiss Me, given their breakneck pace, raw emotion, and Hunter's own propensity for language that pops but never fizzles . . . [Don't Kiss Me] is transgressive without being navel-gazing, confrontational without being aggressive. But above all, it contains a whole lot of Hunter's bloody, beating heart.” ―Rebecca Rubenstein, Kirkus

“These 26 stories, deeply internalized in neurotic lyricism, are hilarious and fully realized portraits of the disavowed . . . And in the uproarious title story, a woman obsesses over a female coworker she envies and despises. Miranda July and George Saunders come to mind, but Hunter's crass yet tender characters are unprecedented, relating fart jokes and impossible sentiment in stylized prose that mirrors their threadbare souls and ineffectual optimism.” ―Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist

“Overall these stories land with a wet slap--messy and confrontational. They demand your horrified attention, and they reward it with exaggerated and irresistible humanity.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Lindsay Hunter is electrifying at the word level, sentence level, line level, idea level. Say hello to your new favorite.” ―Amelia Gray, author of THREATS

“Lindsay Hunter may be the most daring writer of any generation. Like animals on an undiscovered island, her stories are never-before-seen species to be gazed at with wonder, reverence, and no small amount of terror. In this collection of brilliant, deviant innovations, Hunter's scorching comical voice will hold you tightly with a raunchy tenderness as you laugh and cry together through every imaginable apocalypse. Prepare to have your eyebrows singed, to get insanely high off the otherworldly fumes of its grotesque and unstoppable perfection.” ―Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa

“Lindsay Hunter's prose should be part of a survival kit--her stories will start a fire and burn you. They're heated, sardonic, fearless, and to the point. She mixes dark humor with everyday life, reminding me of writers like Amy Hempel, Maggie Estep, and A. M. Homes. Regardless of what she writes next, be it a book of poetry, a novel, or sentences carved on a gas station's bathroom stall or scribbled on a tavern's soggy napkin, I wanna be the first one to read it.” ―Frank Bill, author of Donnybrook

“Lindsay Hunter is one hell of a writer who takes risks and leaves it all on the page in the very best ways. She makes the ugly beautiful and the raw elegant. Don't Kiss Me, tell truths with a fierce, percussive voice that is not only wholly original but so powerful, it steals into your body, your bones.” ―Roxane Gay, author of Ayiti

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374533857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533854
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Mann VINE VOICE on July 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The late mystery writer William Tapply wrote an article called "Invisible Writing," the primary point of which is that writing should generally not call attention to itself. In "Don't Kiss Me," Lindsay Hunter thoroughly disregards that advice. The first thing I noticed was the writing style, which is gleefully ungrammatical and often somewhat dense. The third sentence of the first story, for example, is really just a long comma splice that runs on for well over 200 words. Other stories are entirely in capital letters with little or no punctuation. Throughout, grammatical rules are not just broken but shattered. Subject-verb disagreement is common, objective pronouns are used as subjects, and the list continues.

Again, I realize that the author is mostly in control of her language here. There's too much evidence of intent. But the welter of words or the flurry of capital letters made reading the stories more difficult. Still, I read them all, and there were a few I liked. (I should have liked them more had they been written in something closer to standard written English, I confess.)

Among the more notable stories:

"Three Things You Should Know About Peggy Paula": This is the first story and is told in a series of three vignettes. Peggy Paula emerges as a sad, lonely character, one who desperately longs for inclusion and tends to associate it with sex.

"My Boyfriend Del" is about an adult woman who seems unhealthily obsessed with a nine-year-old boy. Told from the woman's point of view, the story presents her as a seriously damaged woman, someone who seems to have the sensibilities of a child.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oh, where to begin on this stinker? The first clue for me was the 400-word sentence in the first 'story' of this collection of rambling and addled collection of words, seemingly thrown like mud against a wall to see what would 'stick.'

Or perhaps it was the complete lack or abuse of punctuation throughout? The use of all caps? The nonsense dialogue layout?

I understand the concept of 'flash fiction,' but if this work is a superior example then my cat walking across my keyboard is James Joyce.

How this unbelievably poor example of 'modern' prose is touted as fiction, let alone 'flash fiction' is beyond me. Perhaps this 'book' (if you can call it that) may appeal to some of today's youth, but I don't see how any publisher would consider wasting the paper for printing this stuff.

Don't waste a dime on this 'book.'
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Much like Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories and Alan Heathcock's Volt: Stories, the characters who populate Lindsey Hunter's second collection of short stories, Don't Kiss Me, are broken, intensely raw human beings existing along the fringes of America's heartland. Each story offers a brief glimpse into lives distorted by oddball obsessions and all too common abuses of trust. What I found most striking about these stories is Hunter's near stream of conscious style--which harkens to the styles of Hubert Selby, jr. and Dennis Johnson--that perfectly captures the mindset and base nature of her characters. But most of all, it's Hunter's wholly believable characters that make this collection such an intense reading experience. These men, women, and children are your wives and husbands, teachers, next door neighbors, your nieces and nephews; they are the ignored and the barely there.

Simply put, Don't Kiss Me is a stunning collection and easily one of my favorite reads of 2013. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN AT THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

Lindsay Hunter owes as much to Denis Johnson as she does to Mary Gaitskill. Her short stories, collected in Don't Kiss Me (FSG Originals) do not hesitate to descend into the primal urges and dark, lusty behaviors that make us all animals at our core, but they also shine a light on the truth, a nugget of goodness at the center of what is quite often a lonely, depraved and tragic journey, one blanketed in a desire to be seen, to be loved--no matter who we are, or what we've done. Hunter's characters work at diners and long to be included, they take care of their children while embracing their shortcomings, they chase boys into cornfields and kiss their best girlfriends, all the while longing to feel special and included.

One of the early stories in this her second short story collection, "Dishes" starts off in typical Lindsay Hunter fashion, setting the stage by showing us the raw recounting of every humble and embarrassing moment--no filter, just a mix of pride and surrender:

"At breakfast my kid practices his ABCs and barfs into his cereal bowl just before Q. My other kid points out how the barf had splashed onto the table in the shape of Oklahoma. I don't tell him it looks more like Texas, he's a little kid and if he wants to mistake Texas for Oklahoma it's no skin off my tit. My husband wipes up the barf and I watch his shorts bunch in his ass."

There is so much going on here. First, it's funny, right? Whether you've been there a million times before, or this whole scene is a window into what parenthood might look like, the casual retelling, the "no skin off my tit," summons up laughter. Later, as a chorus through the story, our protagonist keeps saying, "Big girls gotta eat!
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