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Half in Love: Stories Paperback – June 17, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (June 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743246853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743246859
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 14 stories in Meloy's confident, polished debut tell the tales of many different people lawyers, ranchers, ex-pats and school girls often as, in moments of clarity, their understanding of their place in the world poignantly shifts. In the spare, haunting "Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976," a young man mourns the drowning of his best friend and his wife's infidelity, even as he realizes that "all he could hate his friend for was that [he] had been loved." In "Thirteen and a Half," a homely girl briefly singled out by an unfamiliar and dangerous boy at a school dance registers his choice as something akin to a life-altering serendipity, as she watches him vanish "among the boys who were just boys, who meant nothing to her, boys she saw every day of her life." Death both animal and human, either experienced or imminent plays a part in many of Meloy's stories. A champion colt's terrible frostbite complicates an already knotty marriage in the heartbreaking "Kite Whistler Aquamarine," while a father's terminal cancer gives his daughter a different understanding of what's fair and what should be risked in "A Stakes Horse." "Ranch Girl," one of the 10 stories Meloy sets in her native West, is one of her strongest and sharpest: "If you're white, and you're not rich or poor but somewhere in the middle, it's hard to have worse luck than to be born a girl on a ranch," the narrator says, even as she refuses to leave. Though Meloy leans toward minimalism and a few of the stories seem pinched as a result she is a fluid, confident and talented writer capable of moments of true grace.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Meloy's debut of 15 stories is set mostly in the American West and focuses on its rugged inhabitants. It is their vulnerability that captures Meloy's imagination, as she portrays characters caught in moments of crisis, upheaval, and change. "Ranch Girl," a coming-of-age story, is about a young woman born and raised on a ranch who must choose between staying with her familiar life or going out into the wider world. "Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976" is a tender story about the deep friendship of two couples. The husbands own an underwater welding business, and on a job together one of them drowns. The survivor blames himself for his friend's death and is further guilt-ridden by the attraction he feels for his dead friend's widow. Other stories go beyond the Western milieu, venturing into Europe during World War II and more. Meloy, who has been published in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and other journals, is in complete control of her material. Her stories have a potent immediacy that makes them believable and heart-wrenching. Recommended. Marcia Tager, Tenafly, NJ
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love and the novel Liars and Saints, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize. Meloy's stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in California.

Customer Reviews

She's great at character development and story telling.
H
At first, there is an unusual and complex external situation that informs the readers of the characters and setting of the story.
"50cent-haircut"
My only complaint about Maile Meloy's collection of short stories, Half in Love, is that I wish there were more of them.
Elizabeth Hendry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "mattyflan" on August 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I worry that most young writers today rely on too many words and a sort of pseudo-intellectual babble to make themselves appear competent. That is not the case with Maile Meloy. She simply tells it like it is. While her stories go deep, she does not need to force feed us. We get it. We get it because her characters, her words, and her emotions speak to us directly. If this is what Ms. Meloy can do for the short story, I will hold my breath for her first novel.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "50cent-haircut" on July 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Maile Meloy writes with clarity, economy and honesty of emotion. Such precision in fiction reminded me of some of Carver's stuff, and if Meloy's writing is to represent some kind of resurgence in minimalism, neo-minimalism or whatever, I'm all for it. (Especially having read some horrible, maximalist 'post-post-modern' fiction of some young American novelists.)
Meloy has an interesting way of unfolding a story. At first, there is an unusual and complex external situation that informs the readers of the characters and setting of the story. And just when the reader expects the story to be about that external situation, Meloy subverts that expectation by telling a story that is more private and introspective. It's a narrative technique that is subtle - one that offers an intelligent and realistic epiphany.
There are some stories when Meloy overreaches and the mechanisms of the story are too transparent. "Ice Harvester", although poetic, reads somewhat like a fiction workshop story that goes through the expositional work only to serve a bland insight. "Paint" also has its effective virtues, but the story of a man dying on his own porch as his wife goes to sleep unaware is too clunky a mechanism to tell a story of a couple who fail to communicate.
Aside from these minor gripes, though, I found these stories profoundly well-written and perfectly judged. And fun to read, as well! "The Last White Slave" is a narrative tour de force, a narrative within a narrative, that tells its tale of morality and character of human love with a propulsive power.
The stories dealing with life in Montana are beautiful as are other stories that take elsewhere, in another time.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. The stories are all great; beautifully observed without being self-consciously literary. How nice to read a new writer who doesn't rely on gimmicks, self-promotion, or trendy topics; just solid and sincere storytelling. The book's flawed characters already feel like old friends. Definitely buy this one now; you may be looking at a classic.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Griffith on December 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a collection of short stories, by Montana born author Maile Meloy. I knew nothing about the book, and it was recommended by a colleague at work, who graduated in English from Princeton.
I don't believe I have read a short story since High School (To Build a Fire), even then I read them discretely, so reading an entire book of short stories was a shock to my reading sensibilities. One of the reasons I read is to become lost in the story and with short stories, well they are short, so the experience is something entirely different. I think with short stories (at least ones this short), the sensation was for me more visceral. After reading them since their breadth was narrow I could stop and ponder them, their meaning and the feeling they invoked. However since there were so many stories, it was difficult to just sit down and read one right after another. Each new story was an entirely different set of characters, different context and setting; it was difficult to be able to shift gears between stories. I had to often pause and allow time for settling before reading the next story.
There were several themes that I observed acros the stories, first was a sense of life in Montana, the general attitude of its inhabitants towards life, nature and new comers. There was also as the title suggests a great deal said and unsaid about love. Every relationship was poignantly troubled in some regard, "half in love" is not half way there, but a relationship that never made it and never will or one that was and is half way gone. I don't believe there was any tale where the couple was truly happy.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I first read Maile Meloy's "Ranch Girl" in The New Yorker and loved it, even writing it up and excerpting a passage on my personal site. I had Half in Love on my wishlist for months before it was released and purchased it as soon as it was available.
Meloy has a real gift for capturing characters' hovering on decision, change, disappointment, and many other ambivalent emotions that defy judgment or easy answers. Not every story in this collection works -- sometimes you lose track of where she's going or don't really believe the characters -- but the ones that do will make you glad you spent a few minutes with them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
I usually don't enjoy short stories because it feels like there isn't enough there to be able to really sink into them, but that isn't the case for Half in Love. Though in the short story format Maile Meloy must sketch her characters quickly, she is so good at conjuring fully formed people that almost from the first paragraph of most of these stories I felt that I both knew the characters well and wanted to hear more about them. Her settings, from the ranches of Montana to wartime Europe, are evoked just as skillfully and economically. Next on my list is trying one of her novels.
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