This is Ruth’s introduction to our November pick, The Terrible Girls. A few weeks ago at a dinner party I (Ruth) accidentally started an argument with a stranger over Mortals, a novel by Norman Rush, which I confessed to “hate-reading.” Jonathan (the stranger) happens to be a Norman Rush expert—this sort of bad luck is mine and mine alone, I feel—and so I found myself in the awkward position of having to logically and instantly defend an opinion I had formed slowly and emotionally. Mortals (spoiler alert!) is about the dissolution of a long, loving, and—it grosses me out to type this, but it’s a central concern—sexually satisfying marriage.Read more.
The Terrible Girls
Welcome to The Terrible Girls, where ex-lovers never leave and all packages must be treated with extreme suspicion. This collection of linked stories has much in common stylistically with the work of Lydia Davis and Diane Williams, but its mesmerizing combination of dread, heartbreak, and gallows humor is all its own.
In one of these stories, an amputated limb, bronzed and hung above the mantel, serves as a token of loyalty. In another, a colorful candy heart is mercilessly ripped from the chest of a former flame. These stories describe a dystopia where love is vicious and betrayal is imminent. In this world, girls have no choice but to be ruthless. Though surreal and dreamlike and fantastical, it also might be …the real world we all inhabit!