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The Guy Not Taken: Stories Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Garrison gives a fine reading of Weiner's collection of short stories about girls and women at various points in their lives (and one about a young man at a crossroads). As a narrator, Garrison's style is unobtrusive and understated; she reads with expression, drawing the listener into the story, but she does not create memorable character voices or give a "flashy" performance. She uses one basic voice for the protagonists of each story, and clearly differentiates between the main character and the supporting characters. The result is a narration that steps back and lets the author's words take center stage. Bridges, meanwhile, is excellent in his narration of the one tale from a male point of view-he does a great job voicing the drunk young men at a bachelor party, the Bronx-accented stripper who entertains the guest of honor, the one conflicted young man among them trying to decide whether to propose to his longtime girlfriend and the sensible girlfriend herself. Simultaneous release with the Atria hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 7).
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""The Guy Not Taken" showcases a maturing Weiner..."In Her Shoes" author Jennifer Weiner is resigned to the fact that in some circles she is referred to as the 'Queen of Chick Lit.' But I challenge anyone who says her short-story collection, "The Guy Not Taken," isn't serious women's fiction. Not that there's anything wrong with chick lit, but the women in these stories are a far cry from the Manolo-obsessed bubbleheads sometimes found in chick lit novels. These women apply healthy doses of self-doubt, loneliness and misgivings along with their lip gloss and mascara. All the stories in Weiner's collection have that 'Calgon, Take Me Away' quality to which smart women, whose lives are complicated by careers, men, babies, parents and siblings, can relate."-- "USA Today"
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a perfect summer/beach read or vacation read. It is a collection of short stories (which I didn't know about) and I do like short stories. They're fun to read. They're harder to write since you have to make sure that you have a good ending, a good plot and a good story to tell. Weiner does a good job of telling stories and the stories here are just good. They're not her best but they're definitely not the worst collection of short stories either. I just didn't want to know more of any of the characters that she might have written more of.
There is one short story though that tickled my fancy. It is about a young housewife staying at home with her newborn. The title is "The Guy Not Taken" and she happened to be surfing the internet in between feedings. She discovered that her ex-boyfriend, the one she has loved for so many years, had set up a bridal registery at a local store. And naturally, she begins to dream of what it might have been if she stayed with him. Then lived a day in that dream. She then realizes that the grass is not necessarily always greener on the other side of the fence.
It is a cute story and definitely one I've had in the past. That is probably my favorite short story in the whole bunch.
These are cute and quirky short stories. But if you're expecting a novel, don't get this one. But there's nothing wrong with these stories, they're just not as full-fleshed as her other novels are.
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.