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Girl Trouble: Stories Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061776300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061776304
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The eight stories in this debut collection maintain a sense of isolation and loss while depicting and dissecting the lives of drifting characters making questionable decisions in a quiet Kentucky town. In the title piece, a father is faced with a moral quandary when his 19-year-old son is accused of raping a local teenager. The others follow similar themes of emotional voids and gaps in trust. In Upright Man, a college-bound town kid, Matt, befriends large and muscular and handsome country-boy Robbie while doing manual labor the summer after graduation. Though Robbie helps Matt get his first girlfriend, Matt secretly desires Robbie's girl and discovers how easily betrayal overcomes good intentions. The strongest entries are Parts and Proof of God, opposite sides of the same tale, narrated in turn by the mother who loses her daughter in a horrific crime, and the college classmate who killed her. Throughout each, the fallible characters are handled with delicate honesty. Though the setting tends to feel repetitive, Jones writes with grace and ease, the selections adding up to a powerful sum of reflection, loss and regret. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Jones writes with grace and ease, the selections adding up to a powerful sum of reflection, loss and regret.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This masterful debut dramatizes the fortitude of small-town southerners confronting situations gone terribly wrong and the shadowed boundaries of love, morality, and violence. . . . Jones’ seemingly effortless style makes the eight tales quietly powerful and achingly human.” (Booklist)

“Gritty, eloquent dispatches from the heartland. . . . Jones’ hauntingly accomplished language lifts the mundane to the level of profound tragedy.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Powerful . . . Strong, subtly nuanced.” (The News & Observer)

“Poignant and approachable-ripe for any audience. The human touch and prairie isolation of her characters are pitch perfect. . . . Jones’ prose is also sharply intellectual. With a debut as striking as Girl Trouble, Jones could very well join the tradition of America’s great Southern writers.” (New York Press)

Girl Trouble resonates with black-coal sorrow and dark truths found in [Jones’s] native state’s darkest hollers. . . . Nothing is contrived; every story is steeped in reality, and clarity comes with a price.” (The Nashville Scene)

“Jones exposes a world that is darkly seductive.” (Oxford American)

“Jones’ sparkling debut collection zeroes in on lonely searching souls making do in a quiet Kentucky town.” (People)

“Holly Goddard Jones is blessed with wisdom beyond her years, a gimlet eye, and an enviable literary talent; her debut collection, GIRL TROUBLE, is a fierce and exhilarating achievement.” (Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children)

“No politician should ever again use the phrase ‘The American People’ without reading this book, preferably twice, so that they understand at last just who the hell they’re talking about. Holly Goddard Jones has a voice as expansive, complex, and beautiful as the country itself.” (Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End)

“A grand debut of a writer who is assured, sensitive, and wonderfully skillful. . . . A marvelous work of heartbreaking wisdom.” (Edward P. Jones)

“GIRL TROUBLE is a powerful, resonant short story collection from the uniquely talented Holly Goddard Jones.” (George Pelecanos)

“The stories from Girl Trouble are poignant and approachable-ripe for any audience. The human touch and prairie isolation of her characters are pitch-perfect. . . . Sharply intellectual. With a debut as striking as Girl Trouble, Jones could very well join the tradition of America’s great Southern writers.” (Las Vegas Weekly)

More About the Author

Holly Goddard Jones's debut novel, THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME, will be released from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster in February 2013. She is the author of a collection of short stories, GIRL TROUBLE (Harper Perennial 2009), and her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in TIN HOUSE, EPOCH, BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES, NEW STORIES FROM THE SOUTH, and various journals. She was a 2007 recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, which honors six emerging women fiction writers annually. She teaches is the MFA program in creative writing at UNC Greensboro.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Very compelling, well drawn characters.
DBF
She writes about feelings in ways that feel fresh and very real, raw and extremely poignant, with layers of emotions for characters to experience, digest, and balance.
Diplocaulus
I'll end by saying this is the best collection of short stories that I've read in a long time and I just hope it's the beginning of a long career.
Gatster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Minor on September 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Girl Trouble reads less like a first book of short stories by a young writer than it does like a sixth or seventh book of short stories by an old master. Here you will find no fancy tricks of language or form. Instead you will find a pleasing and plainspoken account of the interior lives of men and women intelligent enough to warrant stories as richly rendered as these. Jones is a master of the difficult machinations of the close third person point of view, and as we upshift and downshift the distance between the exterior world of the telling and the interior world of the teller, we do it so seamlessly that we're hardly aware we're doing it at all, and the effect upon the reader is an extraordinary immersion in the character in the midst of his or her place, which here isn't a pile of sticks and rocks and dirt, but is instead a way of being in the working class world of western Kentucky, where, if these stories are to be trusted, the people are fierce, generally good-hearted, and inclined to do the things they know will undo them, knowing full well their deeds will undo them, because they are somehow or other compelled, the way all of us sooner or later are, to whatever degree.

Most of these stories wrap themselves around some high event: a violent act, a glimpse at the shocking, a life-altering memory. But the stories are not lurid or Gothic in any sense. This isn't Flannery O'Connor. The preoccupation of the stories, instead, is a long and steady gaze at what reckonings with the extraordinary will do to ordinary people, and how they do and don't settle back into their lives in the aftermath.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pamela A. Poddany VINE VOICE on December 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
GIRL TROUBLE

Each of the eight short stories in this book takes place in Roma, Kentucky. Holly Goddard Jones takes normal everyday people and writes about their lives, situations, hopes, fears, dreams, and just -- life in general.

Every story was exceptional, shocking, down to earth, and written by Goddard with such genius. Definitely NOT chick lit, these stories left me gasping for air, sometimes in tears, but always satisfied with the written word.

A few favorites --

ALLEGORY OF A CAVE

Poor Ben has eye trouble, has to wear thick glasses, is shy, has no friends, and may be going blind. His dad is a truck driver and gone during the work week, leaving Ben and his mom alone most of the time, a situation they find easy to live with. Ben and his mom are close and have an outstanding relationship. Ben is a good kid, but lonely, and after an incident at school his dad tries to help him along and teach him a life lesson. Does his dad make a good decision?

LIFE EXPECTANCY

A high school basketball coach is married with a small daughter who is seriously ill. He runs a tight team and demands a lot from his girl players. His life is turned upside down when his star player tells him she is pregnant. How does this effect both of their lives?

These are just two of the eight. Don't expect sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows from these stories. These shorts are hard-hitting and tough dealing with divorce, affairs, pregnancy, rapes, murder. They relate the thoughts and feelings of every character involved -- and the characters! -- such great, fleshed-out, real characters. These characters are people you could know, they are so real and down to earth.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mike Burrell on April 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Discovering a writer whose work I really admire is one of those sweet little things that make life worth living. I'm happy to say I've found another one of those sweet little things with Girl Trouble. The only quibble I have with the book (and it's a very, very small quibble since I actually like the cover and have always enjoyed a moderate amount of girl trouble when I could find it ) is the title combined with the cover and the fact that the author is a woman at first gives the impression that this book might be "chick lit." Believe me, Girl Trouble is not "chick lit." In fact, it's as far from being "chick lit" as the 64 year old man writing this review is from being a chick.

Though definitely not "chick lit" (not that there's anything wrong with "chick lit"), there are a number of strong, well imagined female characters in Girl Trouble. For example, Libby in "Retrospective," who, upon hearing that her ex husband is going to build a new home on the land where she once lived with him, begins looking back upon a marriage that ran off the tracks years ago. Libby is portrayed so well in this story, I felt I was reading about a neighbor who lives down the street from me. Then there is Dana in "Parts," who narrates the story and pulled me inside her own private hell after the murder of her daughter. But my favorite female character in this book is the tender-hearted thirteen year old, Ellen, in "Theory of Realty." The mounting tension in this story is palpable as Ellen's sweet nature makes her extremely vulnerable to making decisions that could ruin the rest of her life.

But what is amazing about this book is the male characters. They appear so real on the page, I couldn't help but wonder how the young woman whose picture graces the back cover could know so much about men.
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