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Flings: Stories Hardcover – August 19, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (August 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062310151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062310156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2014: Imagine the subtle domesticity of Raymond Carver's fiction crossed with the thematic ennui of Richard Linklater's film Slacker and you have something that resembles Justin Taylor's newest story collection, Flings. Readers familiar with Taylor's terrific debut, Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, will find a similar focus on the uncertain lives of twenty- and thirty-somethings. These characters are not necessarily selfish (though some are); they're lost. But Flings is less about finding the way out--whether that's literal or figurative--and more about the intimate discovery that these lives are meandering in unknown directions. While Flings confronts ambiguous situations and characters with unclear motives, Taylor himself writes with resolve and confidence. It's his strongest work to date--delicately observed and slyly funny. --Kevin Nguyen

Review

“At the root of Taylor’s fiction is one the great ineffable questions, so simple as to come off almost silly when stated plainly—why are the current state of things one way rather than another? Unanswerable, of course, but this collection cements Taylor’s status as a young writer to follow.” (Daily Beast)

“Infused with pop-culture and literary references alike, Taylor’s profoundly understated and often funny stories establish him as an unequivocal voice for the Internet age.” (Booklist)

“Taylor’s insightful stories illuminate the many ways we fall in love--and out of it--and how romances shape our identity both while they last and long after they conclude.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Justin Taylor somehow makes available to us just how strange we are, here in late-capitalist early 21st-century America. Taylor’s stories chart a path through the truth, and the result is that Flings is urgent, necessary, funny, and amazing. A writer we need to read.” (Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh)

“In this luminous collection of short stories, Taylor takes on the theme of constancy of self amid the ephemeral relationships that make up our lives.These stories, by turns witty and piercing, form an uncommon portrait of the human heart.” (Publishers Weekly starred review)

“I tore through this book with white knuckles and a sense of relief, grateful to finally learn more about the human condition from an author willing to give it to me straight. Taylor is a brilliant writer who can tell it like it is without sacrificing style, humor, or surprise.” (Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa)

“It’s an insane idea, but Taylor pulls it off. . . . [A] beautiful meeting of Don Delillo, Philip Roth and Aaron Cometbus.” (Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children)

Customer Reviews

The writing conveys that very well, sometimes exquisitely.
Margaret Picky
This collection of short stories is among the most impressive writing I've read in the last few years.
brjoro
Nothing much made sense and I found this to be a boring collection of stories.
Obsidian Blue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By brjoro VINE VOICE on June 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Books like this are why I'm so happy to be an Amazon Vine reviewer. I'd not heard of Justin Taylor until I selected his book to review, but I'm SO glad I did. This collection of short stories is among the most impressive writing I've read in the last few years. Taylor has an impressive ability to write from inside of the characters in this stories, whether those characters are young post-college friends or a middle age divorced man. The writing is crisp and fresh, dialogue is uniformly excellent and 'of the moment' without sounding forced, and there are tons of unique and interesting observations sprinkled throughout. I think a part of Taylor's stories that I found most interesting is the way that they end, which, for the most part is sudden and with no real finality. Yet this didn't make me feel annoyed, it gave me the sense that Taylor is just stopping the writing, the characters lives will live on, it's just no longer being written about. A very cool literary trick, which could fall flat but for some real worked in this collection. I give this collection a big thumbs up and encourage any fans of good literary fiction to give it a chance. I am certainly going to work my back through Taylor's previous work and will keep my eyes open for whatever he does next. Kudos!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on July 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The characters in Flings are not exactly losers, but they aren't doing that well, either. Seinfeldian, self-absorbed, floating from situation to situation and from one casual relationship to another, they never quite find fulfillment. Doesn't sound promising, but these stories are so well written, so packed with delightful detail, so evocative of places, times, and personalities, that I couldn't put them down. Some of the characters are men, some women, some children. The author takes you inside their heads, their inner struggles, their failure to really connect.

Author Justin Taylor writes really good literary prose, richly descriptive, yet totally accessible. He has a good writer's instinct for the exact right word, the right metaphor, the right nonverbal gesture. I particulary liked his use of detail, his filling out of scenes and situations. It was a joy to read these stories and I wish there were more. Sometimes author Taylor does things that are not usually recommended, such as write in second person, or in a floating, omniscient point of view, but surprisingly, it works for him.

While some of the other reviewers were highly critical of this collection, I found it brilliant, and I recommend it highly. Pick up a copy as soon as it's available. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Naida M. VINE VOICE on September 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Flings by Justin Taylor is a collection of short stories revolving around realistic and flawed characters. The common thread connecting these short stories is romantic relationships and just life really, mainly young adult life. Expressed in these stories are the feelings, the emotions and the inner turmoil, especially at this time in life.

These characters are all at a crossroads in their lives in some form or other. One story that stood out for me was called A Talking Cure, where a couple plays a game revealing past sex secrets and in speaking these truths they begin to create a wedge between themselves. Are some things best left unsaid? And just when you think you are harboring a secret from a person, it might not be a secret after all.

Another story was Adon Olam where a boy is childhood friends with a set of twins, and one twin dies of cancer. The story goes into young adulthood where the main character brings up the past and struggles with placing the blame on the surviving twin. While at a summer job at camp he finds unlikely romance.

I found the stories in this set to be unexpected and surprising even. I enjoyed this one, it was different than what I tend to pick up. I found this collection to be interesting and well written.

disclaimer:
This review is my honest opinion, I received no compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I received my free copy of Flings via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I feel about this book similar to how I felt about the first season of "The Newsroom" on HBO - all the quality parts were there at first glance, but once I got into it, I was overwhelmed by the smarmy earnestness and heavyhanded preachiness of the entire artificial construction. But I enjoyed hatewatching the show to see how overblown it could get.

That's how I feel about this book - Justin Taylor's a fine writer, and he does a great job of capturing dialogue and realistic people - at first glance. But it's so utterly self-affected and deliberately - just - shocking enough. It's exactly the sort of modern literary fiction that prides itself on the vapidity of its characters and situations, as though that's the point - like he'll say "I'm telling it real, man. This is the culture, don't you get it? I'm pointing the mirror at you!" Yeah, I get it, we're all lost in this modern era and clicking on our ex-girlfriend's Facebook profile, and having "flings" with the waitress, and buying pot from our now-estranged once-friend that we had semi-homosexual tangents with. Oh, the struggle! The ennui!

I'm over it...I'm SO over it.

But, I hateread all the stories to see what would come next - after the first three or four (and I jumped around), I had a pretty good idea what to expect, and I was usually right (but not always) and once I settled into actually disliking the author - not the characters, mind you, but the author himself - then I actually enjoyed it.

I just laughed out loud a few times, and I was thinking to myself, "I wish Justin Taylor had been in my MFA workshops, because he would have been the guy I turned to and said "this is a failure, a beautiful, beautiful failure," and he would have said, "THAT's the point! Can't you SEE?
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