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The Kissing List by [Reents, Stephanie]
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The Kissing List Kindle Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This invigorating debut collection follows a group of young women searching for fulfillment in life and love. The more notable of the loosely interlinked stories follow the relationships of flighty, headstrong Sylvie, from her life as an Oxford graduate student kissing nearly anyone in sight to a relationship-weary New Yorker. In the tender Roommates, Sylvie shares an apartment with friend-of-a-friend Laurie, who is battling cancer. As Sylvie’s relationship with an older doctor becomes muddled, Laurie’s relationship with an ex-boyfriend completely dissolves, forcing the two women to acknowledge their unsettled desires. Games finds 28-year-old Sylvie fraught with jealousy on a vacation during which her boyfriend’s affections waver. Other standouts include Animal Cruelty, in which a young woman escapes to her family’s remote cabin to mull over her unplanned pregnancy. As the cabin becomes increasingly overrun with mice, her struggle to come to terms with her situation grows frenetic. The dreamlike Disquisition of Tears follows a house visit of a headless woman. Reents’ witty narratives highlight the nuances of her characters’ desires and hesitations. --Leah Strauss


"Reents’s characters are as sharp as they are sly, as intellectually brilliant as they are oddball. These stories are often funny, but there’s a satisfying dark edge....Reents weaves the book’s stories together with humor, grief and slender prose." --The New York Times Book Review

"Imaginative and skillfully written." --The New Yorker

"Filled with funny observations and sharp insights....cleverness is the defining virtue of this collection....Think Lena Dunham’s Girls." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Funny and fresh." --New York Daily News

"A hysterical collection of stories about sex and relationships that touch on things that are actually dark and miserable....The short-story collection Lena Dunham might write."

"Reents’ stories are witty and packed with sharp, irreverent dialogue. With rhythm and verve unusual in most story collections, conversations in 'The Kissing List' turn into flesh and blood." --San Francisco Examiner

"Reents impresses with her knowledge of conflicted young-adult hearts and her astute portrait of their social lives....Sharp work from a promising writer." --Kirkus

"This invigorating debut collection follows a group of young women searching for fulfillment in life and love....Reents’s witty narratives highlight the nuances of her characters’ desires and hesitations." --Booklist

"Formally adept...Reents has created a collection that is emotionally vivid and stylistically interesting." --Publishers Weekly

"The stories in The Kissing List are alternately ferocious, light-footed, sharp, and mordant; Stephanie Reents, in her first collection, proves herself to be a writer of terrific grace and power." --Lauren Groff, author of the New York Times Bestseller The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia
"The Kissing List is a relevant, daring, and beautifully-written book. The writing is breathless and tricksy, and at the heart of each story lies a radiant desperation. There are dashes of Amy Hempel in here, and Aimee Bender, too, but ultimately the book comes out of a sensibility all Reents' own." --Anthony Doerr, author of Memory Wall and About Grace
"Stephanie Reents' stories are lucid, exciting, and unlike anything I've read before." --Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries 
"Gird yourself for the talent of Stephanie Reents, whose astringent wit and innovative, crunk-like rhythms could carry this collection alone. The surprise is how deeply moving The Kissing List is, too: at once sassy and soulful, and tart enough to make your eyes water and--yes--your lips pucker." --Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others

"The Kissing List is carried forward by a fierce and clear-eyed curiosity about human connection and the creation of self. With sassy sexiness, sophisticated humor, and consummate intelligence, Reents draws us into her exploration of what it means to love. I kept hurrying back to the book so I could read it some more—it’s as compulsively readable as it is perceptive." --Aurelie Sheehan, author of History Lesson for Girls

"Stephanie Reents’ The Kissing List is that rare phenomenon, a book that does justice to the complexity and ambivalence and hilarity of human relationships. This is a book about the mortality and mutability of everything that matters:  romance,  female friendship, ideals, and  the self. Through the sheer force of its wit and insight and fearlessness, it is also a book about the things that never die. A moving and razor-sharp debut." --Suzanne Rivecca, author of Death is not an Option

"Nothing you’ve read before will prepare you for these sly, funny, beautifully off-kilter stories. In Reents’s hands, tragedy and comedy aren’t so much related as indistinguishable, and the only happy marriage is between romance and despair.  I guarantee The Kissing List will occupy a place in your heart." – Eric Puchner, author of Model Home

Product Details

  • File Size: 3174 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth (May 22, 2012)
  • Publication Date: May 22, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006JHKSZ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,257 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E.M. Bristol VINE VOICE on June 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My only major quibble with "The Kissing List" is the title, which makes it sound like a chick lit novel, which it's decidedly not. It's actually twelve short stories, loosely connected by a handful of young women who appear and reappear throughout. In the title story, Sylvie tells us about the men and women she has kissed, none of whom we have met before. Names pile upon names. The point of the story isn't too clear, but it begins to make sense, as you read on. Other stories feature characters from Sylvie's circle of friends: Frances (called Goldy), Maureen, Vita and Anna. They vary in viewpoint from first to third, to even second, which makes it confusing for the reader to pinpoint which narrator is which. But there's an impressive array of different styles, even if it makes putting everything together difficult.

The characters in "The Kissing List" are young women in their twenties who are taking their first steps into the adult world; who are educated and capable but in some ways, still feel like "kids playing dress-up." As they negotiate the business world and the more personal one of intimate relationships, they deal with sexual harassment, breakups, infidelity, and other issues, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. In "Temporary," Vita learns that being a temp is "like being in the witness protection program." In "This Is Just to Say," the narrator deals with jealousy upon learning her high school best friend, a successful writer, is writing a memoir about their youth; wondering if she will be mentioned inaccurately or even not at all.

If you enjoy short fiction about these topics, I'd recommend "The Kissing List." It's definitely not your sex-and-shopping chick lit novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this collection! I'm a huge fan of Lorrie Moore, and Reents does a great job of portraying the complexities of post-college life for her characters with that same wit and intelligence.

Some of her insights are amazing. The story "None of the Above" captures the thoughts of a young woman who writes multiple choice test questions for a living, and who's recently lost her brother. It's so moving, in part because you can readily access the acute trauma of those silly tests, which then obviously pales in comparison with the trauma of losing someone whom you love deeply. Another of my favorite stories was "Animal Cruelty," which is about a woman who's trying to wrap her head around the state of her relationship and the discovery that she's pregnant...while staying in an off-season vacation cabin that's been invaded by mice. I can still hear the mice scrabbling days later!

Many of the stories have something a little surreal or formally experimental in them, but it's not off-putting. The stories are always engaging and surprising. Looking at this stage of life seems to be the rage right now following the advent of HBO's new series "Girls" (...which got a nod in a recent issue of the "New York Review of Books," so confused young women must now be taken seriously absolutely everywhere). And a book where the female characters don't get punished for being sexually adventurous? Sign me up.

Anyway, I could not put this book down. Reents represents the fantastic, the baffling, and the irrational as real people experience it. She so perfectly captures the tenor of those first years of adult independence. This will be my "go to" gift for friends this summer...even though many of us are not quite in the same age bracket as her characters!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's something distinctive about that moment in your post-college life when you're living in a series of crappy apartments, working at improbable jobs, hooking up with all sort of odd people. Stephanie Reents captures it exactly in The Kissing List. In each story, we get a glimpse into the lives of one of several connected characters. These young women are smart, self-aware and fumbling their way through. They're at an age when they believe, as one of the character says, "you'll change and become a better version of yourself, but really, you just wind up being a little more tolerant of the person you've always been." It's a joy to read lines like this (and the book is full of them) that demonstrate the gifts of an author who has an incredible ear for the things people say - and the things people think but don't often admit.
I was excited to read this book, plowed right through it, and only wished it could have gone on longer! It's a great read for a twentysomething who is living through this time of life - or anyone else who wants to re-live it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: Steph Reents is a former colleague and I consider her a friend.
So, I may be too kind, or I may be over-exercising my brand of loyalty, which reserves unvarnished critique for my dearest.
I give the Kissing List only three stars.
I've dithered over this for about six months, maybe to prevent my great expectations of Reents from hurting all-important early sales or maybe because I couldn't make up my mind.
The writing is good (as expected from Reents. She's an exacting wordsmith).
I give it three stars because the Kissing List seems to have succumbed to the reality of New York publishing: which is comically in-bred. Contracts are rewarded to chroniclers of Manhattan and the Ivy League Life at the expense of almost everyone else.
The modern stewards of American letters (like her and her editor and publisher) are building a modern canon that caters to the narrowing circle of wealth and education and too-rarely tiptoes into the messy realities of the country as a whole.
We'll look back on this kind of fiction (inevitably set on campuses, in i-banks and law firms and peopled with the inheritors of wealth) as a symptom of what went wrong on our watch: the concerns of the wealthy and the powerful made our fellow citizens invisible in a way guaranteed to make literature a hated tool of oppression.
Sure, part of Reents' point in these stories is that even the every-privilege-provided young princes and princesses of i-banking and social entrepreneurship get the blues. And the meta-story is that it's very hard to like any of these people, so self-absorbed are they.
But this kind of fiction explores inequality among the richest Americans, and without irony. At least Fitzgerald rubbed our noses in inequality at every chance.
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