The basics: The Kissing List is the debut short story collection by Stephanie Reents. Some of the stories are linked.
My thoughts: The first story in the collection "Kissing," sets the stage for the rest of the book. Reents and the female narrators of her stories are young, brazen, fun and wise: "The funny thing about being in your early twenties is that it's a lot like being any other age, except you don't know it." I have a notoriously hard time reviewing short story collections as a whole, and The Kissing List is perhaps the hardest type to review because its stories aren't as linked as I'd hoped and aren't all centered around a common place or theme. They're a schizophrenic group, and while I adored some, there were some I didn't like at all and many fell somewhere between those two extremes.
What is present across all the stories is the quality of Reents' writing. When I didn't like stories, it was sometimes due to plot and sometimes due to character(s). Still, I admire Reents for taking some bold chances. They didn't always work for me, but they were adventurousness in scope, narrative and theme, and I like those traits, particularly in young writers. Reents isn't afraid of taking chances, and I'll eagerly await whatever Reents writes next.
Favorite passage: "If you think too hard about the grammar of talking, it can fill you with despair."
The verdict: While a few stories stood out in this collection, too many fell flat for me. Despite the unevenness of this collection, it made me a fan of Stephanie Reents, and I'll be eagerly awaiting what she writes next.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 225 pages
Publication date: May 22, 2012
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Kissing List from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)
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