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Book Review: I Knew You’d Be Lovely: Stories by Alethea Black

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. View 1 comment. Jul 04, Brian Melendez rated it it was amazing. 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.


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The writing is superb, the characterization is exquisite and nuanced, and the scenery is familiar and 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? 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. 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. Aug 24, Brian rated it it was amazing. 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.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

The stand So I'll just admit I'm a sucker for short stories. Black explaining a gathering of nerds or the longing and desperation of a 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. 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 They are real and so true to life; touching on s As a child, my mother had given me a book of short stories written just for girls.

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.

Jul 15, Jackie rated it it was amazing Shelves: work-review-related-reading , pleasure-reading , 5-star. 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.

Short Love Story ♥ Me & You

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 complet 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.

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.

Jun 22, Stephen Kiernan rated it it was amazing. 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 o 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 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. Jun 30, Francesca rated it it was amazing Shelves: short-stories. 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 stor 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. 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. Jul 06, Jessica Ward rated it it was amazing. Elliot quote at the front.

I didn't even realize it was short stories until I got home. 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. Jan 23, Jenna Hazzard rated it really liked it Shelves: books-i-own , short-stories-and-vignettes.

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! Dec 05, Katty rated it really liked it Shelves: books-i-own , reviewed , short-stories , , fiction. What an enjoyable little collection!

Love Quotes for Him To Make Him Feel Like A King ()

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. I loved how she allowed snippets of the characters' future to be just barely glimpsed in many of the stories. Nov 29, Anna rated it it was amazing.

I loved the title of this book and the short stories about the details of ordinary life while trying to figure yourself out. May 01, Nickey-Ann Leon rated it it was amazing. 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. 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. Mar 15, Toni rated it really liked it. 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. Oct 09, A. 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 pr 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.

None of the stories interconnect, but I prefer it this way. Each story can be examined on its own. 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. 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.

Monkey see, monkey do. Please, no more tea, she wrote back. No voice for 9 days. You realize how much tea that is? Perhaps you should see a doctor! He handed her the pad. I am a doctor, she said, and he blinked. She resumed writing. She nodded and turned away.

She was wearing a strapless black dress and had a simple mother-of-pearl bracelet clasped about her writing wrist. But by far her most striking feature was her neck—long, bone white, flawless. Who knew what a throat like that might be capable of saying, if only it worked. She turned quickly and caught him staring at her. We say the same things over and over, she wrote. Her head smelled powdery, like vanilla. He repeated himself. She nodded. There used to be far fewer words, in primitive cultures.

Past civilizations counted 1, 2, many. She looked up at him. Kind of how I calculate drinks, she wrote. Art history. Studied botany. Now botanist. As soon as she read this, Samantha stamped her foot, grabbed the pen, and began writing excitedly.


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You help me! I furniture shopping, comparing diff. Why, she wrote again, and as he read the word, she leaned in to underline it. I felt I could relate most to the story and what Alethea Black was trying to communicate. The kind that deserves your time and attention and emotions. The kind that you read with a mug of hot chocolate and long after you have finished it, think, think about it. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.

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