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The Guy Not Taken: Stories Audible – Unabridged

3.2 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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By Dana Y. Bowles VINE VOICE on September 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
....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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Format: Hardcover
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").
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover
... 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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