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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not her best, but still Weiner material
Before you go comparing this book to Weiner's "Good in Bed", keep in mind that this collection of short stories were written before that book, "half a lifetime ago, [starting] when I was 18", she tells us. Many of these were written during her college years at Princeton, and she still had her professor's written notes "polish this up [and] publish it". Think of these...
Published on October 13, 2006 by Shaz

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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CERTAINLY NOT HER BEST........
....but then I am not a fan of short stories. However--since I am a Weiner fan, I thought I'd try her latest work. I have to say...although the stories are well-written, for the most part, I am beginning to find the author's work repetitive. The stories all revolve around women who are physically imperfect (fat, scarred, etc.); there is typically a familial...
Published on September 16, 2006 by Dana Y. Bowles


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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CERTAINLY NOT HER BEST........, September 16, 2006
By 
....but then I am not a fan of short stories. However--since I am a Weiner fan, I thought I'd try her latest work. I have to say...although the stories are well-written, for the most part, I am beginning to find the author's work repetitive. The stories all revolve around women who are physically imperfect (fat, scarred, etc.); there is typically a familial struggle...and typically it is an absentee father (divorced and not involved with his children, or simply desertion). And although her latest in no way measures up to her first (Good In Bed), I was thrilled to see Cannie make an appearance in one of the short stories. And thrilled though I was...let's face it, there is a Cannie in everything that this author writes. Cannie Clones are everywhere; she was the dowdy Connecticut housewife in Goodnight, Nobody...she was the lawyer sister in In Her Shoes....she was the overweight doctor's wife in Little Earthquakes. The reality is that Weiner is a fabulous writer who uses her talent as the proverbial therapist's couch. I'd like to see a wider array of characters in her future work...so let's hope she works through her issues and can move on to something a little more creative.

DYB
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not her best, but still Weiner material, October 13, 2006
By 
Before you go comparing this book to Weiner's "Good in Bed", keep in mind that this collection of short stories were written before that book, "half a lifetime ago, [starting] when I was 18", she tells us. Many of these were written during her college years at Princeton, and she still had her professor's written notes "polish this up [and] publish it". Think of these stories sort of as rough drafts- not perfect, but the raw materials are there.

Many of Weiner's books focus around broken marriages, which tends to get repetitive. But Weiner admits that her parents spilt up when she was 17 and she was so hurt that all her stories, from freshman to senior year in college, revolved around divorce and broken families. In "Just Desserts", Josie Krystal and her family suffer greatly when her Dad decides to up and leave the family; meanwhile, Josie must deal with a Mother that is always doing laps in the pool and a younger sister who is spoiled rotten and somehow gets Josie to do everything she asks. All the while, we wonder wether this is Nicki's nature, or a result of abandonment issues. In "Swim", we find a girl who's parents died early on, forcing her to live with her grandmother. Now in her thirties in L.A., she makes a living rewriting college applications for spoiled rich kids. A chance encounter with a stranger in a coffee shop gives her the idea to also start a business rewriting personal ads for people, making them more "marketable". (Interestingly, Weiner tells us her editor really wanted this story for the book, but Weiner, who admits to being a clutter bug, couldn't find it. So, she had to rewrite it from her memory, changing it from a NY setting to L.A. She refers to it as "Swim 2.0"). The title story "The Guy Not Taken" was an idea Weiner got from a Stephen King short story about a guy who inherhits his dead nephew's computer and starts using the 'delete' button in a sinister way. In Weiner's story, a woman named Marlie, with a husband and 6-month old son, is purusing a bridal registry to buy a gift for her brother and sister-in-law to be when it dawns on her to type in her old flame's info. Bing! His name shows up, and Marlie can't help but be jealous. When she gets the crazy idea to switch her name with Bob's fiancee (she remembered his only password), she wakes up the next day next to Bob instead of her husband Drew. Now that Marlie's made a huge mess of things, can she ever get back to her old life?

The interesting thing about these stories is that they are told in a sort of chronilogical order- from the youngest person to the oldest, in a sense, creating a lifetime of tales. At the end of the book, Weiner gives a breakdown of each story and how it came about, which I found almost more entertaining than the stories themselves. Some have cried foul at Weiner publishing these, as though she were out for a quick buck. However, I think it incredibly brave of her to share her early work, something many writers would probably rather keep buried in their attic. If you decide to read this, go into it with an open mind and don't expect stuff resembling Weiner's later works. Be fair and give it a chance.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An improvement over Goodnight Nobody, September 25, 2006
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I'm generally not a fan of short stories, but I genuinely enjoyed some of these: Mother's Hour - about a punk mother who is unfairly accused of abusing her child, The Guy Not Taken - about a woman who looks up an ex-boyfriend online and suddenly finds herself back with him in an interesting fantasy sequence, Swim - about a shy girl who helps a guy find dates, Oranges from Florida - about a guy who pretends to be from a radio station and brings a prize to a boy, and Tour of Duty - Weiner's first published story, about a mother/son trip to Princeton and the mother awkwardly breaking the news about her impending divorce from his father.

Interestingly, the first story was pretty bad...I'm wondering why it was placed so early in the collection, as that's what readers look at first. However, it was one of her earliest stories, and you can definitely see how she's improved over time. Most of the stories were of more recent vintage and much better than the first one, so I'd advise you to give the rest of the book a chance.

I do agree with some of the other reviewers who said that this book is too dark. It's better than Goodnight Nobody, but I'd like to see Weiner return to her light-hearted, funny style (which is shown in some of the stories, but not all).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars surprising, March 7, 2007
My husband, knowing I'm a fan of Jennifer's books, bought this one for me for Christmas. I fully enjoyed it and finished it w/in hours. I found it quite easy to read, especially since the short story format can fit well into a busy schedule...finish a story, go to work, pick up book, and start a new story. Enjoyed it very much. Also, SO WHAT if Weiner puts a "fat" person in her stories. As a "fat" person (who really isn't fat, but in today's society, anyone over a 10 is considered heavy), I appreciate heroines who I can relate to. Not everyone is a stick-thin model living the glamorous life in New York City. Some of us are "real" women who make a living as teachers, mommies, or housewives. Kudos, Jennifer, for including "real" women in your stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Boring, Boring, and Boring, January 20, 2008
This review is from: The Guy Not Taken: Stories (Paperback)
While I really liked her novels, this compilation of short stories was sooooo boring! I took this on my vacation of relaxation and found myself annoyed with each story (because I love chick lits) and couldn't even finish the book. Each of the stories really lacked a point in general. It was like reading random books. Short stories should have some sort of point to them. Blah. Dull. Pointless. Boring. Unsatisfying.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars i think this was...., October 9, 2006
... an attempt by her publisher to make some "free" money. they slap Weiner's name on a cover, get some buzz, and watch it go. the problem is - these stories are sub-par. if she was not Jennifer Weiner, they would not have been published. and i think it's a shame that they convinced her to hand them over. even in her notes after the last story, she mentions how more than a few were rejected. i think i know why: the themes are repetitive, the story arcs are weak or non-existent and the characters start blending together after a while. i think in the future she should stick to novels, or write some brand new short stories, with a fresh perspective and featuring characters of more depth. and no more marketing ploys!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stinker! Big disappointment! Save your money!, October 15, 2006
By 
Her other two books were awesome so I expected the same out of this one but was sorely disappointed. I kept slogging through the short stories expecting them to be connected in some way but alas, I was wrong. The entire book is a series of short stories that go nowhere. They're not connected with at all. I'm left totally unsatisfied.

How did this get published? Oh yes, the name "Jennifer Weiner" was on the cover. Don't judge a book by its cover and I am ashamed I did just that. This is the first book that makes me want my money back. Shame on the publishers for letting this one out, in hard back no less. To think what I could have done with $20 and the five hours I spent on the book...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I hate feeling ripped-off, April 13, 2012
I enjoy short stories and I used to enjoy Jennifer Weiner's books. This collection, however, made me really angry. I forget the exact percentage (yes, I am a geek & I figured it out at one point), but I purchased this book when it came out, read it promptly and felt so ripped off because a large percentage had been previously printed elsewhere. Yes, the book was marketed as new works, but many of the stories were old, so to speak, and had been previously published. For a hardworking, low-paid individual whose main entertainment has been reading, I try to select which hardcovers I purchase (brand new & on their release date) very carefully. I felt SO ripped-off by Weiner and her publisher that I have never bought another book of hers since this occasion. Great job in losing a previously big fan!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If only they had continuations..., April 15, 2008
This review is from: The Guy Not Taken: Stories (Paperback)
Some of these short stories were great beginnings but then they suddenly ended. No conclusion. No leading conclusions. Nothing. The only one I felt ok with was the story with Cannie b/c I know there is an actual book that will tell what happen to her and Bruce. After the first couple of stories it really annoyed me that EVERY character had the broken childhood or couldn't keep thier marriage together. And some of these mothers that regret their children or play favorites was a definite turnoff. I really enjoy Wiener but I was truely disappointed in the collection of stories. I also wonder if Jennifer herself was so traumatized by her childhood she has to put her disappointment of her own father or even marriages/children in her writings. I'll force myself to read Certain Girls just to see how Cannie turns out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the Jennifer Weiner book I was wishing for-DREARY, October 6, 2007
This review is from: The Guy Not Taken: Stories (Paperback)
I purchased this book because I have so enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's other books; funny, touching and bright. When I see a Jennifer Weiner book on the shelf I automatically purchase it! It was actually after reading several chapters that I realized these were short stories which are not my favorite- I prefer greater character development but it was my own fault for not reading the back cover of the book. I figured out the short story format when I realized the chapters kept having the same theme; depressed female, "woe is me" tone, overweight females, grandmothers, messed up mothers, swimming etc. but the character names changed - aha! Personally, I read fictional novels for an uplifting fun experience not to get depressed. I will probably be more selective before picking up another of her books. It is hard for me not to finish a book but with this one just couldn't do it.
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The Guy Not Taken: Stories
The Guy Not Taken: Stories by Jennifer Weiner (Paperback - June 26, 2007)
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