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You Think It, I'll Say It: Stories


You Think It, I'll Say It: Stories

My experience of reading YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY IT, Curtis Sittenfeld’s first short story collection, was pure pleasure. While the ability to deliver quality work is to be expected of the author at this point, I hadn’t read anything of hers since she scarred me with her debut novel, PREP, which I devoured as a middle schooler.

With this latest book, I was happy to discover that her consistency as a writer does nothing to diminish her gift for surprise. Truly understanding Sittenfeld’s characters means piecing together the little revelations she embeds within her stories, breadcrumbs of insight that never fail to subvert premature judgment of her creations. Even better for the reader, these moments are always laid out in the most artfully understated ways.

Sittenfeld manages to make even the most mundane interactions among people, such as a conversation between two moms chaperoning a field trip in “The World Has Many Butterflies,” worthy of a nail-biting, page-turning frenzy. The plot doesn’t need an "aha!" moment for her work to become interesting. By virtue of character development, it already is.

"As a whole, this collection is practically flawless. Anyone who enjoys literary, character-driven fiction should pick it up..."

In this way, her stories are some of the most accurate reflections of modern life to be found in fiction. She is a character-driven writer, and each piece here is, at its core, much more about the inner life of its narrator than the action occurring in the narration. What makes them such satisfying reads is how the aforementioned breadcrumbs of insight come together to create unparalleled, fully realized portraits of flawed human beings. When a writer is successful in pulling off something like that, it can be almost breathtaking to behold.

Upon finishing YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY IT, a reader will come away understanding more about the human experience, albeit a certain type. Sittenfeld’s characters, especially the ones who narrate, are for the most part drawn from similar backgrounds: educated, well-to-do, Midwestern, white. While they are all certainly individuals, they do express degrees of anxiety over their privileged, largely homogenous lives. Many of the stories have a political tilt, with the characters experiencing moral reckonings surrounding the 2016 election; others touch on racial and class disparity.

Unfortunately, some of these explorations don’t go as far as they need in order to be truly effective, especially the ones having to do with race. However, the observations Sittenfeld’s characters put forward command attention, and where they fall short, the only true complaint that can be lodged is wishing that the author had done more.

As a whole, this collection is practically flawless. Anyone who enjoys literary, character-driven fiction should pick it up --- especially if they’re a fan of witty, engaging prose narrated by commonly petty, dislikable folks who are painfully, beautifully, fallibly human.

Reviewed by Alex Bowditch on April 27, 2018

You Think It, I'll Say It: Stories
by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 0399592865
  • ISBN-13: 9780399592867