EMMA STRAUB / Other People We Married

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 7:30pm
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“These quiet epiphanies in Straub’s stories place her in the company of Beattie and Moore, and the voices she creates are contemporary. When I finished reading this exquisite collection, I flipped back to the beginning of the book and stared at the table of contents. The book was suddenly heavier in my hands—suddenly filled with the weight of all these character’s silent fantasies, side-thoughts and careful revelations. Other People We Married is a captivating first collection of short stories for this writer; I look forward to her future work.” –Bracha Goykadosh, The Rumpus

 

“…Emma Straub crafts characters so compelling that they linger quietly on the periphery of one’s consciousness days after reading, waiting patiently for the reader to consider and then understand them. Trendier writers may grab a reader’s attention with outrageous spectacle, but it’s the strong, silent types like Straub who are the true writers to watch.” –Yennie Cheung, for The Hipster Book Club

 

“In Emma Straub’s witty debut story collection, Other People We Married, New Yorkers venture outside their home city to see what the rest of America has to offer, and these trips force the realities of their relationships into stark relief.

 

In “A Map of Modern Palm Springs,” two sisters meet in California for a vacation together. They head to Joshua Tree National Park, about which the local they scored drugs from warned them, “It’s the desert. It’s only exciting if you’ve never been there before.” It also can be exciting if you take hallucinogenic mushrooms, which the older, more settled and successful sister does, prompting the younger sister to consider ditching her.

 

In the touching “Hot Springs Eternal,” Richard and Teddy, a gay couple from New York, visit Glenwood Springs in Colorado, and Teddy, the younger man, gets a kick out of the rampant bad taste on display, enjoying hotels “that looked on the verge of destruction, with words spelled incorrectly, or ones that looked like cottages where Snow White or the Swiss Miss might work at the front desk.” Their relationship appears doomed at the outset, with Richard feeling older and crankier, and no longer amused with Teddy’s antics, but the story ends with an old-fashioned gesture of chivalry: Richard takes off his T-shirt to reveal the “pale expanse” of belly about which he’s sensitive, and offers it to Teddy, who lacks a shirt.

 

In the quirky “Fly-Over State,” a New York woman named Susan finds herself sentenced to Wisconsin, where her husband has taken an academic job, and she has little to do but study the habits of the locals, in particular the grown son of her neighbors, who introduces himself as “Mud” and lives in his parents’ basement. Although she fears Mud is a “serial killer,” Susan takes to him, as he displays “the first sign of unfriendliness” she’s encountered since moving to Wisconsin. Mud asks whether living New York is like it is in the movies, and she thinks, “nothing was as much like the movies as the last month of my life, when strange women brought me lemonade and baked goods, which I then consumed without worry that I was being poisoned for the lease to my Co-Op.”

 

 

A good sense of humor is a great place to start as a writer, and Emma Straub is off to a promising beginning with these funny, sensitive stories.” – The Dallas Morning News

 

 

Emma Straub’s forthcoming novel is Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Paris Review Daily, Tin House, Cousin Corinne's Reminder, and many other journals. She works as a bookseller at Brooklyn's BookCourt, has read recently with her father, horror master Peter Straub, and tweets @emmastraub.