Saturday, November 24, 2012

Short Story Saturday: The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, a returning semi-regular feature. The project stems from a desire to read more short stories. It's not a secret I prefer novels to short stories, but I'm working to stretch myself as a reader, and part of that will be reading more short stories. When I have read short story collections, I've often found them hard to review as a whole. This feature will allow me to review collections as a whole or separately, but I'll also be reviewing individual stories.

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
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Kissing List from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. I have to agree that the best short stories or collections all do seem to be linked in some way.

    1. Jenny, I think we are kindred novel-reading spirits:-)


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