"Never acknowledge the fact that you're a girl, and take pride when your guy friends say, 'You're one of the guys.' Tell yourself, 'I am one of the guys,' even though, in the back of your mind, a little voice says, 'But you've got girl parts.'" A girl whose self-worth revolves around masculinity, a bartender who loses her sense of safety, a woman who compares men to plants, and a boy who shoots his cranked-out father. These are a few of the hard-scrabble characters in Tamara Linse's debut short story collection, How to Be a Man. Set in contemporary Wyoming - the myth of the West taking its toll - these stories reveal the lives of tough-minded girls and boys, self-reliant women and men, struggling to break out of their lonely lives and the emotional havoc of their families to make a connection, to build a life despite the odds. How to Be a Man falls within the tradition of Maile Meloy, Tom McGuane, and Annie Proulx.
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Impressive collection set in Wyoming
Western, poignant, lyrical
I don't think I can compare this collection to other story collections because Tamara Linse has such a unique voice.
The title story is my favorite and I think it's the strongest story in the collection. It's tricky to tell a story in second person, and this one doesn't at all feel gimmicky. Instead, you're inside Birdy Gunderson, feeling everything she feels. "Then it will be as if some one grabs the center of his face and twists. The look will be so awful your body will wander to a stop and you'll stand, unbelieving, still caught in the adrenaline of the moment before." I don't know if it's possible for those lines not to break your heart.
The name is perfect as it is! I'm looking forward to reading more from Linse, and I've already purchased her novel, Deep Down Things.
P.J. Morgan is a talented narrator and I look forward to hearing more of her work. I received this audiobook in exchange for a fair review.
- Kaijsa Calkins