Read I Knew You'd Be Lovely: Stories by Alethea Black Online


Alethea Black's deeply moving and wholly original debut features a coterie of memorable characters who have reached emotional crossroads in thier lives. Brimming with humor, irony, and insights about the unpredictable nature of life, the unbearable beauty of fate, and the power that one moment, or one decision, can have to transform us, I Knew You'd Be Lovely delivers thatAlethea Black's deeply moving and wholly original debut features a coterie of memorable characters who have reached emotional crossroads in thier lives. Brimming with humor, irony, and insights about the unpredictable nature of life, the unbearable beauty of fate, and the power that one moment, or one decision, can have to transform us, I Knew You'd Be Lovely delivers that rare thing—stories with both an edge and a heart.From the Trade Paperback edition....

Title : I Knew You'd Be Lovely: Stories
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 11764098
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 397 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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I Knew You'd Be Lovely: Stories Reviews

  • Iris P
    2018-12-03 13:12

    I Knew You'd Be Lovely: StoriesWell if I was going to end the year reading a collection of short stories I am glad this is the one I chose.Since I finished I Knew You'd Be Lovely I've been pondering what was it that left me with such a sense of bliss, then it hit me: it was the uplifting tone that runs throughout these stories. I found that quality contagious and a welcomed breath of fresh air. If there's is an recurring theme in this collection is that of the misfit character who facing a crisis, considers that important existential question: is this all there is?That description might sound serious and there's plenty of soul searching here, but I believe Black biggest success is in allowing us to contemplate those essential issues with wit and humor and in showing a heartwarming level of compassion for her characters.If you are one of those readers that haven't been inclined to read short fiction, this might be a good place to start. I Knew You'd Be Lovely might convinced you that a well written story can be great literature and as satisfying as a full-length novel can be. At times these stories made me laughed out loud but perhaps most importantly, they left me with a profound sense of optimism. Maybe they were the perfect antidote for my 2016 blues and a good cleanser to start the new year with a clean mental palette. I wish all my wonderful Goodreads friends a fantastic new year, cheers to all of you!

  • Larry H
    2018-12-15 15:30

    Short story fans, or those who simply love great fiction writing, go out and pick up Alethea Black's magnificent story collection (or download it onto your eReader), I Knew You'd Be Lovely. I read this collection in one day and nearly every story left me moved beyond words, intrigued, amused, or simply amazed at Black's abilities. (And sometimes more than one of those happened simultaneously!)The characters in each of Black's stories are at some sort of emotional crossroads. In the incredibly moving "Someday is Today," a young woman comforts her sister and young children after her brother-in-law's unexpected death, and struggles with questions of faith and her own purpose. "The Only Way Out is Through" follows one man's struggles to get through to his troubled son, with nearly cataclysmic results. The main character in "Mollusk Makes a Comeback" struggles to remain positive as events in her life spiral out of control, and in the title story, the narrator's search for the perfect birthday present for her boyfriend leads her down an intriguing path. And those descriptions just scratch the surface of the stories in this collection.I love short stories, but I really found this collection exceptional. Black created some truly memorable characters, many of whom could have a whole book written about them. (There are definitely more than a few characters about whom I'd like to know what happened when the story ended.) I didn't want this collection to end, but now that it has, I'm more than ready to read what Black has in store next! Don't miss this one, seriously.

  • Joyce
    2018-12-04 15:07

    Quite good. The author has a way of capturing snippets of life, drawing in the reader and having each story resonate with you after finishing the final words. It's like a guitar cord that continues its sound after being played and you smile.

  • Tammy Parks
    2018-12-16 10:29

    A beautifully crafted collection of short stories, mainly about people who are at a crossroads in their lives. These thirteen tales are about new beginnings and sad endings, sometimes both at the same time. Full of breathtaking passages and keen observations about the human condition, I absolutely loved this book."We're afraid of failure, and afraid of success. We are afraid of being loved, and afraid of being alone. The world is full of pain, and this is scary. And the world is crazy-beautiful, and that's daunting too. Worst of all, so little is under our control."

  • Jill
    2018-12-05 16:05

    Every now and then, a debut short story collection appears that makes me sit up and take notice – Interpreter of Maladies, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, and You Are Not A Stranger here, to name three. Alethea Black has taken her place as a short story writer who shows amazing promise.Some of the stories in I Knew You’d Be Lovely are very good and others are excellent. There are none that are bad. She writes like a dream, summing up the unpredictable human condition with insight and perceptive and more often than not, a subtle sense of humor.It took me two-thirds of the way until I had that “eureka” moment: “Aha, this is a book about beginnings.” Take her story That Of Which We Cannot Speak, for example. Bradley, a man who is struggling to find his way back to center after his marriage implodes, meets an attractive doctor with laryngitis at a noisy party. They communicate with a clipboard and, in an unspoken way, find a connection.Or take the story The Only Way Out Is Through. An accidental father takes his very emotionally disturbed son on a camping trip. An act of impending horror is the catalyst for him to reveal the magical time of the son’s birth, ending with, “Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you get it.” Or, one of my favorites, Good In A Crisis. Ginny, an aloof teacher, is resolved to avoid marriage at all costs, supporting her aversion with specific examples: a good friend’s husband taped The X-Files over their wedding videos. Eventually, she finds her way to her first crush, her older and still attractive and single high school teacher. The story of their meeting is real and poignant and fresh a Ginny starts “climbing the stairs – very slowly, like a woman sleepwalking, incapable of imaging the dream that awaits her when she wakes up.”The title story I Knew You’d Be Lovely, focuses on Hannah, a woman who is searching for the perfect gift for Tom, one this is “prescient, ingenious, unique, unforgettable.” I won’t spoil the fun in revealing what that “gift” turns out to be.At the end of the book, Alethea Black writes, “I love it when authors share the backstories to stories and snippets about their creative process.” And she proceeds to do just that, letting the reader know what inspired her to write each story.Except one.That story closes the collection and it’s called Someday is Today, a highly personal and poignant story about the death of her young brother-in-law and a potentially life-altering decision that her sister requests of her. It is a beautifully-written and in its own way, it, too, is about new beginnings.

  • Jeanette
    2018-12-02 11:32

    If you don't usually read short stories, consider making an exception for this entertaining little collection. There are plenty of good reasons to read these stories, but the best reason of all is just for pure delight. Alethea Black is someone you'd like to have for a friend so you could enjoy her playful nature and the funny lines she loves to share. Every day when I sat down to read a story or two, I couldn't wait to find out what new way she'd find to delight me. There are thirteen stories in this collection. Some are hilarious, some deeper and more sorrowful. Even the stories with a more serious tone contain an element of play and a joy in the creative use of language. Black finds fresh and surprising ways to present a serious message. In "That of Which We Cannot Speak" she addresses the banality of small talk using a character with laryngitis who shows up at a party with a clipboard around her neck for writing what she needs to say. There are a couple of themes that seem to run through many of the stories. One theme follows the consequences of not being entirely honest with those closest to us. We don't get what we need because we withhold the truth. In "The Laziest Form of Revelation," we see how being naked in front of someone is a cheap substitute for sharing your authentic self. The second theme in the collection is that of characters on the verge of something new in life---maybe something better, maybe just something different. In "Mollusk Makes a Comeback," Katie is a young woman for whom Murphy's Law seems to have been custom-made. But by the end of the story, you know her hopeful nature will help her keep believing she's "just about to get to the good part." The author's notes about each story are a wonderful and revealing addition. She shares how she got the ideas for her stories and some of her process in writing them.

  • Richard Gilbert
    2018-12-04 10:26

    These are funny, sexy, wise stories; some are sad, yet somehow they’re always hopeful. Maybe my favorite story, perhaps partly because I read it first, on line at Narrative magazine, and imprinted on its tough beauty, is “The Only Way Out is Through.” The story is about a man trying to help his angry, disturbed son by taking him on a camping trip. The boy is suicidal, too, it turns out, and their trip is one long crisis. The narrative features an unusual flash-forward, deftly handled, that’s as thrilling as it is surprising.A neat feature of I Knew You’d Be Lovely is that Black included Author’s Notes in the back on twelve of the thirteen stories, and says about “The Only Way Out is Through” that she had to put her head down and cry a couple times while writing it.The story not so illuminated by commentary is “Someday is Today,” and it’s explained by the collection’s dedication, in memory of Black’s brother in law and to her widowed sister and their four daughters. Black might have written the story as an essay (see her wry essay about being a night-owl on the Narrative site), but her bent seems to turn more often to fiction, and this lyrical story, unbound by strict allegiance to whatever the literal facts, sustains a remarkable depth of feeling.In “Someday is Today” an unnamed woman arrives to help in the wake of the death of her unnamed sister’s husband, and she struggles to comfort her sister and to care for the couple’s three young girls. Sorrow, the visiting woman-narrator says, has made the widow “a little girl again,” the girl she knew when they were growing up. But there’s a new tension between them, partly because the single woman doesn’t know how to care for children and partly because she can’t share the depth of her sister’s grief. And also because she’s religious and her sister isn’t.As the children’s mother keens, their wacky aunt teaches them words far beyond their abilities—orientation and omniscient; she buys them whatever they want at House of Pancakes, bounces with them on a trampoline, and endlessly re-watches with them The Sound of Music. Auntie tells them an age-inappropriate but very funny joke (with which I’ve tortured my entire family). Yet, despite her rapport and love for the girls, this sensitive woman balks when asked to agree to take them if her sister dies young like her husband. And though she’s allowed to talk to the children about God, when she reveals that she anointed her dying brother in law with blessed oil and said to him words by Annie Dillard (from Holy the Firm)—“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us . . . There never has been”—her widowed sister is furious.I realize I’ve picked the collection’s two heaviest stories to highlight. But the scenes here between the well-meaning aunt and her young nieces are tender and funny (which only makes the situation more heartbreaking), and the story is so perfect and suffused with such profound emotion that it is life-affirming and inspiring.There are moments and snatches of conversation in this collection that are so real and apt that you just know Black pounced on them in real time. Which isn’t to say they aren’t deeply imagined. Even when the outcome of a story is improbable, as when a beautiful young doctor leaves a party with a man she’s just met, possibly bound for bed, it is believable partly because you want to believe. Another of those stories is “Good in a Crisis,” about a young high school English teacher, who, questioning her calling, tracks down the cool high school teacher she’d had a crush on. “He sometimes had a little BO, she remembered, which Ginny’s adolescent self had found oddly sexy. Mainly, though, he had the peculiar beauty of a person in love with what he does.”These stories are all really about love, I guess, and anyone who has been there knows that love is transcendent: earthbound rules don’t fully apply.

  • Autumn
    2018-12-07 10:09

    I Knew You'd Be Lovely is a brilliant collection of short stories. It's so brilliant, in fact, that it may be too much for some readers. Do not read I Knew You'd Be Lovely if you have ever broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, been divorced, are going through a divorce, are thinking of divorce, or your parents are divorced. Do not read this book if you had sisters who were your best friends, or sisters who were total strangers to you. Do not read this book if you have ever suffered heartache, loss, or angst; if you have ever longed for redemption or doubted the possibility of it. Here is a collection by a young writer who writes only the truth. Her stories aren't autobiographical--they are somehow more than that. They cut through the facts and faces of an individual's life and expose, with surgical precision, the universal pain of the human existence. Alethea bares her soul in every story, and in doing so she will expose yours. I quit underlining passages that stopped my breath when I got to "The Summer Before." I put the book down and called my little sister. I told her I loved her, and that I was sorry for leaving her behind when I rode my bike to the candy store. This is what it means to read I Knew You'd Be Lovely--it is to be confronted with your own history eloquently written into someone else's life. I could be bias; I've known Alethea since the title story "I Knew You'd Be Lovely" was published in Inkwell. But I didn't choose her story, nor did I edit it. I don't think I'm bias. I think if you read Alethea's stories you'll agree that she is a brilliant storyteller. Her words cut straight to your heart--be ready to examine it.

  • Bonnie Brody
    2018-12-08 10:03

    Alethea Black has written a wonderful compilation of short stories, every one very good and some brilliant. I can hardly believe this is her debut collection as it is so polished and mature. She tackles diverse themes in her stories such as epiphanies, passion, regret, transitions, new beginnings, loss, and problems with intimacy and connection. Most of the stories deal with attaining wisdom through learning from past mistakes. The protagonist often reflects back on what went wrong and then moves on to some significant life change. I liked that Ms. Black included Author's Notes at the back of the book. These notes told how the stories developed and were written from her perspective. It was a very helpful addition to the book.'We Cannot Speak' is about Bradley, a divorced Englishman, who has lived in the states for two years. His marriage broke up because of his emotional inaccessability. At a New Years Eve party he meets a young woman who is speechless because of laryngitis. She uses a pad and paper to communicate. He is attracted to her but does not know how to begin speaking and get involved. "He wanted to ask her, 'How does anyone ever begin?'" He let himself follow her body language as they left the party together, relying less on the verbal. Another story, similar in theme is 'The Laziest Form of Revelation'. It is about an artist who is painting a portrait of his girlfriend. She is a compulsive talker and he believes that true revelations come from what is observed and unsaid.One of my favorites in the collection is 'Good in a Crisis'. It tells of a woman who is struggling with whether to continue teaching or leave the field. At the same time she tries to reconcile her love of solitude and her difficulties with intimacy with a chance at love. She seeks out her mentor from high school and quietly struggles to connect without fear.'The Thing Itself' is about a man who's has had premonitions all his life, most of which have come true in one form or another. The last time he had a premonition, he was mugged. He tries to tell himself that his present premonition of great change coming might not be something that happens TO him but rather, something he creates by making a big change in his life. The ending is a great surprise.In 'Mollusk Makes a Comeback', Katie is in a bad way. She's lost two jobs in two weeks, her phone's been disconnected and her car's been towed. She has no idea where she's going in life but she is determined to survive. "All you have to do is try" she tells herself, while also realizing that much of life is out of our control.In the title story,' I knew You'd Be Lovely', a young woman finds out that her partner is having an emotional affair. He and the 'other woman' are corresponding frequently by snail mail. Hannah decides to invite Sydney, the other woman, for Tom's birthday to have a celebration-a-trois. She ends up finding Sydney as lovely as Tom does.'We've Got a Great Future Behind Us' is about a country singer in dire financial straits. He decides to call in some chits. He asks a bitterly divorced couple, once famous country singers, to pay up on an old promise - to write a song for him. Their hatred of one another is palpable. Meanwhile the country singer is torn about legitimizing his own relationship with his partner. Does he marry her or leave things in the status quo and continue to live together without marriage?There are many excellent stories in this collection of thirteen of Ms. Black's work. I highly recommend this book to lovers of short stories or to those who have wanted to try short stories but haven't given them a try yet. These stories are accessible, interesting, and thought-provoking. Alethea Black is a writer to look out for in the future. She is writing a novel and I highly look forward to reading it.

  • Brian Melendez
    2018-12-06 18:32

    You know those times when you sit down with a book by an unfamiliar author, and you feel like a new friend just came into your life? I bought this book on a whim after reading a good review, took it along for a long flight, opened it to a story more or less at random, and halfway into the story was already wondering how I had never run into this author before. This book amazed and impressed me. The writing is superb, the characterization is exquisite and nuanced, and the scenery is familiar and real.Alethea Black's craft reminds me of two of my favorite writers: O. Henry and Anne Tyler (with maybe a little Rebecca Wells thrown in). These stories are not derivative at all: they are fresh, real, original, and insightful. They don't depend on surprise twists -- although there are a few of those, including the brilliant title story. But they sparkle with subtle wit and wordplay, overlaying a core of warm and human characters facing situations that seem natural, sometimes even familiar. The characters face turning points in their lives with both doubt and grace: a doubt that draws you in, and a grace that gives you hope.Some of the stories go deeper than a slice of life. Kelly, in "Proof of Love," announces "I'm very religious. But not in the usual way," then delves into an awkward relationship with her philosophy-student-turned-supermarket-cashier boyfriend as she lives out an idiosyncratic theology that could keep a room full of divinity students talking for hours. Felix in "The Thing Itself" and Ginny in "Good in a Crisis" -- two different characters, in unrelated stories -- lead lives of quiet desperation until they examine those lives, and choose a different perspective. All these stories are very good, but many of them are great. (And they're concise: the longest story in the book is just 23 pages.)I finished the book before I flew home, and went looking for another book by Ms. Black. I was disappointed that I couldn't find one -- she's new, and this book is evidently her first published collection. I'm already looking forward to the next.

  • Brian
    2018-11-23 10:22

    So I'll just admit I'm a sucker for short stories. There's something about such small windows into life that gets me every time, and for a truly excellent writer, I always marvel at how they managed to pack so much character, so much feeling into a mere few pages. This is one of those collections.Alethea Black is more in touch with the human soul than most. Almost every single story in this collection touched me to my core, even when it was Ms. Black's hilarity rather than her sadness. The stand outs for me: "That Of Which We Cannot Speak", "Good in a Crisis", "The Summer Before", "Mollusk Makes a Comeback", "Double-Blind" and of course, probably my favorite, "Someday is Today." Every one of these stories flutters with an originality and heartbeat all its own, whether it's Ms. Black explaining a gathering of nerds or the longing and desperation of a 20-something for a purpose.I also enjoyed that the book felt tied together by a singular theme of characters trying to decide something large and possibly life altering, or looking back with hindsight on such a decision. I think it's hard sometimes to see those decisions when they're coming in your own life, and so it's always rewarding to see someone who has managed to confront those moments with such authenticity.Read this book when you're sad to know that you're not alone. Read this book when you're happy to simply experience a few revelatory moments of the human experience.

  • Theresa
    2018-12-07 15:07

    As a child, my mother had given me a book of short stories written just for girls. The characters were ones I could identify with, making it a treasure that I read over and over. I carried it with me everywhere I went, and I shared it with my dearest and closest friends. I have not come across a book like that since...until now."I Knew You'd Be Lovely" is a collection of thirteen heartwarming and touching stories that one can easily identify with. They are real and so true to life; touching on subjects that will make you smile, stir up memories or tug at your heart. The characters are easy to get involved with. They reach out and grab you and hold on, even after the story is done. Because of this, I was not able to read story after story, but had to stop and mull over and savor each one.This collection has made my favorites list and gained a spot in my personal library. I will be giving a copy to each of my dearest friends. Yes, to me it's just that good! If you are looking for a good book for your book club, "I Knew You'd Be Lovely" would be a fantastic choice as the stories could easily spark some intense and in-depth discussions.

  • Jackie
    2018-11-27 11:12

    If every short story writer was able to write with such succinct intensity and blazing purity of message, I'd be a much bigger fan of the genre. At the very least, I am now a HUGE fan of debut author Alethea Black. There are thirteen stories in this amazingly slim volume, but the quality of reading experience for each and every one of them rivals many novels that are told in ten times the pages. She is able to use just a few words to convey a highly charged emotional setting, getting you completely invested in the characters within a couple of paragraphs. Frankly, I'm in awe of this collection, and cannot recommend it highly enough. I especially loved the author's notes section at the end of the book where she explains her inspiration for every story. I also think this would be a great read for a book club--there are an amazing number of issues covered in these stories should lead to some very lively discussions.

  • Francesca
    2018-11-21 10:09

    I have really been enjoying this set of short stories by Alethea Black, even "saving" a few for a moment in the week when I knew I would appreciate something that felt friendly and tender. Her writing is lucid, funny and compassionate, and she captures pivotal moments in her characters' lives when they make their defining choices. My favorite story of all the bunch is "Double Blind", possibly because she captures so well the quirky mind I've found typical of scientists, but also because the story delves into the idea one so often has that we would have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight. Here the character's vision of a relationship at her moment of entering is overlaid with her knowledge of everywhere the relationship will succeed and fail, and yet she makes her choice. To me it seems more satisfying, knowing that she chose the sweetness even as she saw it was intermixed with the bitter.

  • Stephen Kiernan
    2018-12-13 12:26

    This is a fine new voice, clever and energetic, funny without resorting to constant irony as many humorists do, with a gift at creating the moment of change -- not epiphany but decision -- and moments that will break your heart in a lovely way.The book is a collection of stories, the narrators varied and situations various. But the keen observation and nearly fastidious details (as well as quite a few jokes) make each story an engaging and vivid read. The characters in these stories are always on the cusp, trying to decide, faced with options. And invariably, they lean in the direction of love. From a girl's crush on her teacher to a sister's love for her nieces, each protagonist moves toward greater love. Sometimes the story is wry, urbane, some combination of Lorrie Moore and Susan Minot. But Black reaches farther, seeks the kind of heartful experience you would expect of a less succinct author.If you are looking for short stories by a new writer, this is the one to read.

  • Jessica Ward
    2018-11-23 12:13

    I bought this when going to B&N foe coffee. It was in the notable fiction section by the escalators, was 20% off and had a great T.S. Elliot quote at the front. I didn't even realize it was short stories until I got home. I haven't bought or connected with short stories in awhile, but I LOVED these. I tore the book up folding down pages and underlining parts. It made me laugh out loud and think about and admit to parts of my humanity I've gotten pretty good at avoiding. It was great. I want to read more by Ms. Black.

  • Katty
    2018-12-08 16:23

    What an enjoyable little collection! This was a treat from start to finish. Black touches on important topics (such as being authentic, taking chances, and handling crises) in a succinct and entertaining fashion. I was impressed by how much is said in these stories without much overdone prose or literary devices. Instead they're simple and straightforward in the best way.

  • Jenna Hazzard
    2018-12-06 16:19

    This was a really heartfelt book of short stories. I read it remarkably quick, because the stories drew me in and moved at a good pace. I loved that these stories looked at core emotions and the struggle to connect with others and find meaning that everyone can relate to. Note: I did not read this for school. It was one of my first books read for pleasure in months!

  • Nickey-Ann Leon
    2018-12-05 16:29

    Really loved this book. Beautiful short stories that are well-written and relatable. Definitely excited for more of Althea Black's work after this read.

  • Anna
    2018-11-26 15:25

    I loved the title of this book and the short stories about the details of ordinary life while trying to figure yourself out.

  • Rose
    2018-12-16 11:19

    Loved it

  • Claire
    2018-12-05 16:27

    I loved how she allowed snippets of the characters' future to be just barely glimpsed in many of the stories.

  • Lorie Adkins
    2018-12-17 11:06

    I loved this book!I love short stories so this book was for me. Each story when finished I had to sit back and reflect on the story and characters before starting the next one. I will defininetly recommend this book

  • Toni
    2018-12-10 11:13

    The short story is in many ways even more difficult to master than an epic tale. The ability to capture so much emotion and even evolution within such a succinct telling requires true artistry.For the lovers of the short stories of O Henry and Alice Munro, there is a new star in the firmament.

  • A. S.
    2018-12-03 14:11

    It took me nearly five years to get around to reading and reviewing this collection of short stories from the First Reads program on Goodreads, but I've finally read this, and it was worth the wait.I Knew You'd Be Lovely is a charming collection of short stories. Fizzy, effervescent, and cheerful while still providing hints of flavorful depth by examining deeper feelings of love, confusion, resentment, and loss, this book is like a mimosa for the brain. None of the stories interconnect, but I prefer it this way. Each story can be examined on its own.These are my thoughts on each story:The Only Way Out Is Through: I don't really understand this one. The deer shooting part reminds me of Stranger Things.Good in a Crisis: this was funny and cute.The Thing Itself: awww cute. It's like a rom-com.The Laziest Form of Revelation: this one seems a bit trite.The Summer Before: I didn't like it.Mollusk Makes a Comeback: if it didn't reference payphones, I'd think this was about a Millennial trying to make it in life. Loved it. One thing that bothered me was the I'm Not Really a Waitress reference; the shade refers to an OPI nail polish, not a lipstick. So I'm torn as to thinking this is a fictional origin story for a brand or the author forgot that OPI does nails (or did it on purpose to avoid legal issues)I Knew You'd Be Lovely: the titular story is probably one of the weirdest in the book thus far.Proof of Love: Kelly's an interesting character. Very different from a lot of short story characters.We've Got a Great Future Behind Us: funny, brings me into the world of country music that I'm not sure I want to be in.Double-Blind: hipster version of The Big Bang Theory.The Far Side of the Moon: sweet look at the 70s through the eyes of someone who was a young adult then.Someday Is Today: I am broken. This is such a beautiful story.Many of these take on a sort of rom-com like quality. The protagonists of each story have a sort of yearning that fits the characters' stages in life. The wordplay is fun, cute, and charming.I had to be in just the right mood to read these stories, which is why once I started, it took me over a month to finish the book. There's a nice explanation to each story in the author's note.

  • U.R. Bowie
    2018-12-18 18:12

    “You On a Good Day,” by Alethea BlackPublished in “One Story,” #163, April 23, 2012This is a story written totally in second person, about all the things you do on a good day.ExcerptYou don’t give the finger to the black pickup truck that tailgates and passes you aggressively, then let go of the wheel to give it two fingers when you see a rainbow-tinted peace sticker on the bumper. You do not call the friend—the one who was in the hospital a few weeks ago, and whom you did not visit or call—you do not call her today because today you need something from her. You do not consider dousing your refrigerator with gasoline and setting it on fire because of the sound its motor makes while you’re trying to work. You do not wish the earth would just ignite and everyone would die in a ball of flame simply because it has been hot for a few days. You do not conjure up, in as vivid detail as possible, every time anyone has ever wronged you in any way. You do not think: We’re a ruined, useless lot, and we deserve everything we get. You do not say under your breath, while forgoing a pack of cigarettes: It’s either pain in the body or pain in the mind, take your pick.Here’s what I, U.R. Bowie wrote on the blog for “One Story” in 2012:This strikes me as the best story I’ve read since I’ve been subscribing to One Story–that covers about twenty stories.I find myself marking up passages, even writing things down (my best compliment to a writer). So many wonderful passages, so much despair, but leavened with hope and optimism.“Hurt people hurt people.” I suppose this expression has been around for awhile, but I never had heard it: wonderful.I laugh all the way through this story, although the humor is dark.About the ending: in the Q and A session, the ending is described as “unabashedly hopeful and happy” or something like that. I wouldn’t describe it that way. I think that the ending is happy/sad, like the rest of the story, like life.The ending moves me.

  • Erica
    2018-12-09 17:24

    I have several gift cards from a large, impersonal bookseller... one that is still in business, and does indeed have physical bookstores. Because there is no expiration date, I tend to save them for the proverbial rainy day -- when I could really use a pick-me-up about which I do not feel compelled to feel guilty. This was one such purchase, based purely on the wonderful title and the stunning comments on the back cover.I'm usually not a big fan of short stories... although I am realizing that might be shifting. When I am reading fiction, I tend to invest in the characters, in their stories. Emotional connections are formed. As I finished this beautiful collection last evening, an analogy came to me. Sometimes, reading a short story can be like sucking on a hard candy for a bit, then getting impatient and deciding to go ahead and bite into it -- it's an abrupt ending. Reading a well crafted novel, or as it now seems, a well crafted short story, is more like sucking on that lemon drop until it gently melts away. That was my experience reading this collection. It took me awhile to read it because sometimes I wanted to leave a few days between the stories, to draw it out a bit more. My favorites were "Proof of Love" and "Someday is Today." To close, a quote from "Double-Blind:" "It felt as if he were waving at me from across a great distance, an unbridgeable abyss -- across ll the distance between what has been and what is to come." Oh -- why not one more from "The Summer Before:" "Where does she learn these things? Who ever taught her? I don't remember ever teaching her a single thing. All the while, hiddne in the background, she must have listened and learned in teh echoes and silences the rest of us didn't even know we made."Again -- really enjoyed this. I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.

  • Kristina Franken
    2018-11-26 15:06

    In high school and college English majors are often made to read the short story. I am grateful for this fact. "Parker's Back" by O'Conner, Faulkner's "Barn Burnings" and Miss Emily's Rose" are examples of the vignette medium that powerfully moved me. But, as a whole, for the past 50 years, I have mainly read novels, selfishly demanding more; more experience.; more in-depth character study; more profound connection. Alethea Black, the author of "I Knew You Would Be Lovely" brought me back to the pleasure of condensed brilliance. Thirteen vignettes of life are proffered in this short story collection; multiple insights into relationships with oneself, with friends, with family and with one's truths left me deeply stirred.Of course I had my favorites...."Mollusks Make A Comeback." Katie, a woman afraid to try for more spoke solemnly through humor and jarred an "aha moment" so profound in me I am still shaking. What more can you demand of a story? Other favorites...."Someday is Today," "The Summer Before" and "Good In A Crisis" All thirteen invoked emotions and understanding I didn't know myself capable of. What more can be asked of a well crafted tale?Alethea Black talent lies in her balance, intuitiveness, tenderness, sarcastic wit, shock value, humor and compassion. How could I ask anything more from a genius wordsmith?Read at your own risk knowing par writing will most probably not be enough for you again. When you read extraordinary it is hard to lower that bar back down.

  • Julie Ekkers
    2018-12-16 13:27

    I loved this collection of short stories, which are about ordinary people feeling their way toward authenticity and connection. One of the stories closes with this line: "Somewhere there would be a good part, waiting to begin." I so loved that the author, by the end of most of these stories, for most of the characters, has given those characters a glimmer of the beginning of the good parts. In so doing, she makes this a very uplifting and hopeful read.The one exception was the book's final story, which, based on the dedication and accompanying photograph, I suspect is largely true. In fact, I wasn't even sure it was meant to be a fiction. It is the one piece not included in the Author's Notes section in which she reveals the genesis of, or interesting aspects of, all the other pieces in the collection. Whether it is true in part, or not at all, it is deeply sad. I liked its inclusion though. It felt like a nod to a "That's life," sentiment--fabulous, tough, lovely, ugly, fun, hard. . .--and the best we can all do is try to live who we are, and find the people who love us for those selves.

  • Donna Barnes
    2018-11-18 15:09

    For my Book Club I read this short story collection and another by Elizabeth Berg --- I enjoyed Elizabeth Berg's better because the stories seemed to end better. However, there were a few that I really, really liked --- for example, the first one with the clipboard . These stories were all about relationships, and I found that very valuable of a theme --- then the next 4 or 5 stories I liked, but they had what I would consider, ineffective endings ---up in the air. Sometimes that works, but these didn't seem to. After I went to the book club, I heard that the kindle had a bunch of notes on the stories, if I went to the extras in the back. Perhaps they would have helped me to enjoy this ss collection a bit more. I do intend to get back to the notes, so maybe I'll edit this review eventually. But right now, not sold on it.