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Shout Her Lovely Name
by Natalie Serber

Overview - A "New York Times" 100 "Notable Books" of 2012

"Call it fiction, but this collection is achingly true to life when it comes to the many ways mothers and daughters grow together and apart, over and over again."
--"O, the Oprah Magazine"

Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women.  Read more...


 
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More About Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber
 
 
 
Overview
A "New York Times" 100 "Notable Books" of 2012

"Call it fiction, but this collection is achingly true to life when it comes to the many ways mothers and daughters grow together and apart, over and over again."
--"O, the Oprah Magazine"

Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband's fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life--stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs--in 1970s California.
Gimlet-eyed and emotionally generous, achingly real and beautifully written, these unforgettable stories lay bare the connection and conflict in families. "Shout Her Lovely Name" heralds the arrival of a powerful new writer.
www.natalieserber.com



 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780547634524
  • ISBN-10: 0547634528
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publish Date: June 2012
  • Page Count: 226


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Short Stories (single author)

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-03-05
  • Reviewer: Staff

Serber’s intense debut collection would have been better had every story, rather than most of them, traced Ruby Hargrove’s evolution from daughter to mother, and her own daughter Nora’s reactions to her questionable parenting. After an uneven opening story about a mother and her teenager daughter’s eating disorder, we come to “Ruby Jewel,” about a college girl reluctantly having drinks with her philandering, alcoholic father. As the plot progresses, Ruby gets pregnant, tries to make it work with the baby’s father, and is finally abandoned when she changes her mind about adoption. So begins Ruby and Nora’s life together, a blur of constant moving and a revolving door of men. Serber deftly puts the spotlight on key moments of Nora’s upbringing: an adopted stray cat is thrown out for ruining Ruby’s things; Nora’s tough schoolgirl friends turn to Ruby for help ; Ruby flirts with Nora’s older boyfriend. Serber’s adroit turns of phrase and the short story format enhance the emotional intensity of familiar scenarios while keeping them from seeming rote, but the form has its pitfalls. An engaging story about a mother comforting an orphaned baby on a plane splits the book down the middle, and another stand-alone story ends it. Despite those stories’ clear thematic ties to the collection as a whole, readers will miss Ruby and Nora. (June 26)

 
BookPage Reviews

Focus on the family

This summer brings two short story collections perfect for dipping in and out of on your vacation: one by naturalist and poet Lucia Perillo, and a debut offering by Natalie Serber. Both focus on families, though the majority of Serber’s work is devoted more specifically to the ties between mothers and daughters.

The 14 stories in Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain are firmly rooted in the small towns and quiet neighborhoods of the Pacific Northwest. Three linked stories follow Louise, a developmentally disabled adult who is a good-natured witness to her mother’s unhappiness and her younger sister’s sexual adventures. Many of Lucia Perillo’s adult characters recollect their childhoods, seeking answers to current situations in past behaviors. The wild exploits of youth are dissected in several stories such as “The Cavalcade of the Old West,” in which two sisters recall their adventures at a summer fair before one sister’s promiscuity drove them down separate paths. In “Report from the Trenches,” a frustrated housewife lives vicariously through the memories of her neighbor, now prim and proper, but once a female gang member. The narrator in “A Ghost Story,” one of the strongest stories in the collection, remembers her years as a “girl flagger” in a highway crew and the affair she had with a man who literally picked her up off the street.

Perillo’s characters are tough but with an edgy wit and a refreshing lack of self-pity, despite their often dead-end circumstances. Perillo’s work as a poet informs and deepens her language; in “Big-dot Day,” a miserable young boy, dragged cross-country by his mother and her new boyfriend, catches a gull with the boyfriend’s fishing rod while stuck in a motel room. The title story of a chronically ill woman suspecting her husband of infidelity ends with a striking vision of a quilt turning into migrating birds.

Natalie Serber explores the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, from euphoria to fear and everything in between. Most of the stories in Shout Her Lovely Name trace the life of Ruby Hargrove, the daughter of an alcoholic father and depressed mother and herself the single mother of a daughter, Nora. Beginning with “Ruby Jewel,” the stories follow Ruby as she disentangles herself from her parent’s emotional neediness, only to be abandoned with a new baby, and throw a spotlight on seminal episodes of Ruby and Nora’s peripatetic life from New York and California. Each of the other three stories in the collection stands alone, but their subjects—a mother addressing her teenage daughter’s anorexia, a new mother comforting an orphaned baby on a plane and a middle-aged wife and mother taking stock of her life at her husband’s 50th birthday party—mirror and echo the themes explored so thoughtfully in the stories of Nora and Ruby. Like Perillo, Serber writes with grace, humor and a thoughtful, but realistic, understanding of the emotional toll demanded by families.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

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