Breakups are hard to forget, and this collection—surprisingly restrained yet full of emotion—is equally memorable. Patty Van Norman's two-frame graphic story Dear Ugly, Dear Fatso (other graphic entries are from Lynda Barry and Emily Flake) resonates like a quick punch to the solar plexus. Josh Kilmer-Purcell writes of the lover who could only perform with Wonder Woman
on the television. George Singleton urinates a bellyful of beer into his ex's kitty litter box. Maud Newton tells of a sex- and rage-filled relationship, wondering: was he the abusive one, or was I? Taeckens, publicity director at Algonquin Books, anthologizes modern heartbreak in stories replete with contemporary commentaries (e.g., using Match.com to express a new relationship status). In a book full of hits, Amanda Stern's Scout's Honor, about camping in the Washington Cascades, stands out. The collection's material could make one feel a bit voyeuristic, but throughout this tender book one instead feels like a privileged confidant. (July 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Pretty irresistible. Some of that has to do with the subject, of course: literature and heartbreak go together like Anna and Vronsky. And a lot of it has to do with the tone-the usual regret, shame, and pain are leavened here with a generous tablespoon of wry humor."
-Greg Cowles, New York Times
"The humiliating and occasionally hilarious break-ups described in Love Is a Four-Letter Word
...run the emotional gamut from neediness and infatuation to rage and disgust."
-Wall Street Journal
"Heartbreak, humor, humiliation, and self-discovery-it's all here in this collection. With crabs. And poignancy. And Wonder Woman."
"Love Is a Four-Letter Word
offers flashes of insights from well-known writers about love gone wrong... The pieces sparkle with wit, pain and honesty."
"A book full of hits . . . Breakups are hard to forget, and this collection-surprisingly restrained yet full of emotion-is equally memorable."
"Honest, sad, witty, and fierce, here is a breakup anthology that will break your heart."
-ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
"These dispatches from the deep dark depths of romantic doom will make you cringe, laugh, wince, sigh, laugh again, nod along in I've-been-there empathy, and recoil in thank-Jesus-I-never-went-there chagrin. Here's the end of love, or what sometimes passes for it, in all its many forms: wistful, bitter, confused, tender, regret-strewn, and sometimes freakin' deranged."
-JONNY MILES, author of Dear American Airlines
"As hard to avert your eyes from as a traffic accident . . . This is not a pity party. No, in the essays carrying the biggest charge here, the authors anatomize their own complicity and duplicity."
"The song says breaking up is hard to do, but the superb writers in The Book of Exes say heartbreak is just a little more complex . . . Hilarious, poignant, and insightful."
-JENNIFER GILMORE, author of Golden Country
"Rewarding and worth dipping into . . . Standouts include Junot Diaz's 'Homecoming, with Turtle,' Gary Shteyngart's 'Texas' and Maud Newton's 'Conversations You Have at Twenty.' Humorist Dan Kennedy, author of the acerbic 2008 memoir Rock On, crafts a hilarious piece about dating a divorced aerobics instructor a decade older than he."
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who has ever ventured into a relationship has a messy breakup story to tell, and this anthology throbs with tales of heartbreak and woe by the best and brightest of today's literary scene. In these deft, funny, and honest tales you're apt to recognize yourself on the giving end, on the receiving end and, God help you, on both ends."
-MARK SARVAS, author of Harry, Revised
"An alluringly voyeuristic collection of romantic cautionary tales, without the predictable happily- ever-after endings-at least 50 new ways to leave your lover."
-AMY FINE COLLINS, author of The God of Driving
"If I were able to write about my ex-girlfriends with this level of wit, passion, and insight, I probably would have a lot fewer of them!"
-KEVIN SMOKLER, author of Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times
"Love is laid bare in these absolutely human stories, and in so many different ways that I understood more about myself than I could have ever entertained. The Book of Exes is an exquisite glimpse into the heart, into romance, into love. These words hurt and shine as much as their many landscapes, and I am left with a less broken heart for having read them."
-BRAD LAND, author of Goat: A Memoir and Pilgrims Upon the Earth