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Goodnight, Beautiful Women: a powerful collection of short stories about the women of a small town in Maine Hardcover – 3 Nov 2016
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Noyes' achievement here is nothing less than a high-wire act: precise, fearless, breathtaking. She casts an unwavering gaze on the nature of frailty and desire, offering up gem after gem in this sensuous and startling debut. -- Tea Obreht Seductive, smart, and erotic, Anna Noyes' stories evoke with beautiful clarity love and sexual awakening. She is a most exciting discovery. -- Lily King A mesmerizing collection of stories by one of America's most exciting young writers... Tender yet unsentimental, unflinchingly bold but full of beauty, Anna Noyes' debut lingers in the mind well beyond its final paragraph. A book to fall in love with. -- Jonathan Lee, author of `Joy' and `Who is Mr Satoshi' Anna Noyes has the gift... It is a joy - and the sweetest kind of heartache - to watch her making her swift way story by story to their hearts. -- Kevin Brockmeier, author of `The Illumination' and `The Brief History of the Dead' This is an extraordinary book of stories... [They] are energetic, often mysterious, and beautifully written, and they will stay in your memory long after you finish the book. -- Charles Baxter, author of `The Feast of Love' These stories shine with prismatic, perfectly rendered settings, but more brilliant still is the delicacy with which Noyes unspools the inner lives of her characters... This feels like no debut at all, but a voice fully formed. -- Casey Walker, author of `Last Days in Shanghai' With exceptional delicacy and grace, Noyes cracks opens the most ordinary moments and offers us their painful core. Noyes's prose is precise, skillful, and full of raw emotion. It's some of the most elegant writing I've come across recently. -- Dina Nayeri, author of `A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea' Assured and atmospheric, tender and melancholy, these stories of women adrift linger in the mind like music. I love them. -- Karen Thompson Walker [Noyes' characters] do not shy from their imperfections as they search for those fleeting, ambiguous moments of resolution. * Booklist * Women combat the bleak Maine wilderness and more insidious dangers within their own homes in a debut as rich and quiet as a walk in the dark. * Huffington Post * [Noyes'] praise is well-deserved; she writes poignantly about women of all ages and economic backgrounds coming together and drifting apart in New England. The stories are loosely connected, demonstrating how the rippling effects of one event, of one lie, can reach farther than imaginable. * Huffington Post * If the fiction of Stephen King and Alice Munro had a literary love child, it might look like this: luminous domestic moments married to a pervasive sense of threat. * Washington Post * Anna Noyes's superb debut collection [is made up of] haunting, beautifully restrained stories * LitHub * The stories... consistently sparkle with expressive detail * New York Times Book Review * Anna Noyes is as sensuous as she is grounded. The beauty of her language, with its rhythmic pulls and earthy descriptions are captivating... a young and gifted writer. * Travel + Leisure * Her prose is beautifully evocative * Grazia * Anna Noyes is basically the living embodiment of Hannah Hovarth's ambitions in Girls. Straight out of Iowa Writers' Workshop, she's written for various literary publications before turning in a book of short stories on the sensual and often strained lives of women along the beautiful Maine coast. She will suck you in. * Grazia *
A dark and brilliant debut collection of short stories by a gifted young author.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
I feel sorry for the author. I can only assume that she must be an emotionally dark and unhappy person with an axe to grind with the male sex as the stories she tells are about women of all ages being used or abused in some way by men, none of whom come over as nice, decent people. Set in the USA the stories are, to my taste, incomplete and unsatisfying with non-endings that are inconclusive and leave you hanging in the air. So much so that when I started reading the stories on my rather outdated Kindle, it skipped the title page and took me straight to the beginning of the first story, and not realising that it was a collection of short stories I couldn’t work out the total non sequitur between what I thought were two consecutive chapters in a longer book, and why the characters and the situation were completely different at the start of the next one. I found the book all rather depressing.
Am I missing something?
Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Picture Stephen King if he wrote the mystery of real life Maine, and you get a feeling for the atmosphere of Noyes’ work. That is, there is a call in almost every story to the strange uniqueness of the Maine landscape: quarries, coastal beaches, empty summerhouse neighborhoods. And if it doesn’t specifically call to Maine itself, then the setting remains a character in of itself: the lonely town of Treelaw; a 1918 house where two women partake in an affair; the old swamp where a man throws his and his wife’s belongings bit by bit. In general, you can be sure there is no shortage of sex, love gone wrong, and growing up in this laid back, but still sentient place.
What’s also refreshing about the collection is that resolution is not the key factor to enjoyment. Noyes lets you sit in one place or another, watching the action of real life. It’s like Noyes took a video camera and just captured what happened for a while. So if you prefer fully three-dimensional story arcs with stark closures, then most of the stories may be lacking.
It’s not an original choice among reviewers, but I also enjoyed “Drawing Blood,” the story of two young women of different class who form a physical relationship. The insistence of femininity and the implied self-punishment through a loveless marriage is sad and touching, especially for the period it was set in. But it’s one of many stories that one has to read with an open mind. I certainly didn’t understand some situations across the book, but I trusted Noyes enough to show me another part of the human journey. Simply be warned that not everything will be for everyone here.
As I said, Noyes’ collection is not revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t thought provoking. Noyes mentioned in an interview that she loves stories where the characters are hiding secrets that, by some terrible or uncomfortable means, will arise and threaten their cherished relationships. For women, such tender and almost shameful secrets don’t always make an easy life, because it resists the current of the loving, wholesome wife or mother superimposed on the gender. Men clearly have this experience also; Noyes made it clear that many male narrators share an experience of unspeakable secrets. But for many women who might feel guilt or shame for their gender, these stories become all the more difficult to read though all the more true.
On the whole, Goodnight, Beautiful Women is not a new favorite of mine, but it is to be appreciated for its daring and cutting power.
This is not a book for readers who have expectations. Let the stories be what they want to be. Ride along and enjoy the view.