You Think It, I'll Say It

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

This often-hilarious collection of short stories set in contemporary America deploys an array of vivid 30-40-something female protagonists. The characters here act out varieties of reckless choices and come to grips with layered versions of self as they make their mark on the world. Absolutely entertaining women’s fiction with one lens tuned to images of daily life during the T*$mp era and another lens focused on the inner lives of flawed, often snarky, and always complex characters. Endings of these stories offer futures merely glimpsed, never tied neatly into predictable outcomes. We find modern two-mama families, wife-as-breadwinner reckonings, social media’s destructive tendencies, celebrity envy, flirting (and acted-out) sexual fantasy, plenty of “road-not-taken” angst, and clever dialogue on every page. Will there be a film?
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This collection is worth it alone for "The Prairie Wife," which is a masterpiece. I totally didn't see that ending coming and I feel like such a putz for not. 

Sittenfeld writes about what she knows - middle-aged white women - but she does so in a unique and refreshing way that doesn't feel grating. Some stories definitely shone more than others - "Gender Studies" and "Do-Over" were standouts - but others such as "Bad Latch" and "The World Has Many Butterflies" were also solid little stories that made me either smile or go "huh" (in a good way).

As with any short story collection, there were a few that didn't resonate with me. "Volunteers are Shining Stars" and "Plausible Deniability" didn't so much end as fizzle out and leave me scratching my head. But even in those I still found elements I enjoyed or that made me think. 

Anyway, still thinking the most about "Do-Over," where a woman goes on a date with her old high school crush and discovers what a disappointment he is.
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Although I am a lover of Pride & Prejudice, I have to admit that Sittenfeld’s celebrated Eligible left me kind of cold. The bare bones of what I loved were there, but I didn’t like all its new parts. Perhaps I wasn’t ina  good mood when I read it, since I actually enjoyed Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but seeing all the praise it was getting I realized that perhaps I owed Curtis Sittenfeld another chance. It was with that in mind that I decided to read You Think It, I’ll Say It. Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

At the heart of You Think It, I’ll Say It are women, especially women in uncomfortable situations. Not the kind of situations you find in horror movies or dystopian novels, but rather the everyday  awkward situations, when you’re suddenly confronted with a situation you hadn’t expected, when the response to a love declaration seemed impossible, when you find yourself acting a way you thought you’d left behind. The title of You Think It, I’ll Say It comes from one of its stories where a man and woman, both married to others, play a little game. He’ll point someone out, she’ll give her first, often dismissive, impressions of them. It is a game the reader and Sittenfeld play throughout the collection, with us constantly assuming we know where the story is going and then being surprised by just how desperate and ugly life can get. But that doesn’t mean there is only sadness to be found in You Think It, I’ll Say It. There are some tragicomic moments, as well as genuine touches of light.

The first story in You Think It, I’ll Say It was perhaps the hardest. Called ‘The Nominee’, it focuses on a female Democrat running for president against someone who couldn’t possible win. A meditation on internalized misogyny and women tearing each other down, it left me both saddened and a little bit wiser. Almost every story in You Think It, I’ll Say It has that kind of impact. None of the characters are perfect, those who seem to be so hide something darker, and yet the stories don’t feel dark or depressing. There is a sense of understanding in the stories and if judgement is passed, it is with a gentleness that belies Sittenfeld’s sharp wit. Sometimes it feels as if short stories simply rehash the same characters over and over again, but that’s not the case with You Think It, I’ll Say It. Each story feels fresh and each character feels new. There is a rawness to some of them, a sense that they’re unfinished, which feels very real.  In the end, no matter how funny, odd or sad the stories are, they could be describing you or me. 

As I said above, Sittenfeld and me didn’t really get along during Eligible. The sharp wit and keen observations that I found in You Think It, I’ll Say It was missing in the former book. Perhaps now I owe it a reread, since Curtis Sittenfeld completely converted me. Each story is carefully crafted, moving from casually dismissive opening statements to deeply cutting personal acts. Sittenfeld focuses on class, relationships and gender throughout You Think, I’ll Say It but the topics never overwhelm her. She stays in control of each narrative and even when it would be so easy to judge, Sittenfeld finds some sympathy. In a lot of reviews the stories in You Think It, I’ll Say It are described as breezy and this shows just how masterfully each story is crafted. They are complex, handle difficult situations and impossible emotions, yet each feels light. I think I really owe Sittenfeld a reread of Eligible…

Each story in You Think It, I’ll Say It is an insight into those messy things we call our lives. Full of twists but paced beautifully, each story has something to offer to its reader, as long as you’re willing to make yourself vulnerable enough to reflect. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a challenging yet “breezy” short story collection to start the new year with.
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I have read a decent amount of short story collections, but I can only recall a few that I found difficult to put down. This is one of the few that I wanted to keep reading. The stories are well crafted, many with subtle touches on issues in society such gender roles and norms. It really is an excellent collection and I think I may be one of Sittenfeld's newest fans!
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This was a really quick read. All of the short stories were excellent. I really liked the way they were written. The one with the exchange of emails about classical music between a bachelor and an unknown person stuck with me the most. I also like how she uses androgynous names to hide the gender of some of the characters. It leaves you with only part of the story until the author is ready to reveal it to you. The focus on juvenile relationships revisited in later years may have been overdone as a theme, but the stories themselves are all unique little gems in their own right. If you like short stories, this definitely gets my recommendation.
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I am not usually a reader of short story collections, but I dove into this book because I am a fan of Curtis Sittenfeld. This will be a great selection for a book club. Many important themes. All the stories are entertaining, but also open up a lot of avenues for discussion.
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Smart, funny & genuine - this book had me thoroughly engaged & ignoring the rest of the world. Very relatable characters, great storyline & just an overall “win”! Thanks to netgalley for the opportunity to read & review.
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I'm not generally a fan of short stories but for Curtis Sittenfeld I'll make an exception.  These stories were all well-written and interesting, some better than the others but all worth reading.

I especially liked "Volunteers are Shining Stars".  His characters describe real people so perfectly.  I highly recommend this book.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I am someone who used to love short stories and then one day I just did not anymore. This was the first collection I got into in a while. I enjoyed the majority of the stories in the book and I found the characters to be interesting. It seemed to portray a lot of middle aged white women, which is okay. I typically like a more diverse set of characters but again it seemed to fit for this book.
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Although none of the characters were detestable, none of them were likeable either. I liked that the author painted each woman in shades of grey, demonstrating how multi-faceted and dynamic people are.
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This collection somehow manages to be insightful and yet keep you slightly off-balance, at the same time.  I enjoyed it.
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A top notch collection of short stories full of compelling characters, and storylines so true to life, I kept thinking this was a case study on relationships. My first Sittenfeld, but I’ll be reading the rest shortly.
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Curtis sittenfeld is in a class of her own when it comes to developing strong stories and characters.  Love that this was a reese book club pick very well deserved.
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A solid collection of short stories filled with Sittenfeld's insight into the everyday.  As with most short story collections, some stood out more than others.  I still prefer her novel-length writing, though, as she is an amazing character and plot developer.
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Curtis Sittenfeld is back.  After  a bit of a stumble with "Eligible", she is back in fine form with this collection of short stories.  All of the stories have the connecting thread of showing the nasty streak in all of humanity. The title story left me feeling sorry for a woman that was not very sympathetic to begin with.  All of the stories are good reads.  I am glad she is back!
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An exquisite short story collection. Curtis Sittenfeld has always been an excellent writer and seeing her give voice to so many different stories and characters was a true showcase of her skills!
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I don't read too many collections of short stories, mostly because I always feel like they don't give me enough in terms of characterization and plot development. However, if everyone wrote short stories like Curtis Sittenfeld does, then I would read them all the time.
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I'm not a big fan of short stories, but I love Curtis Sittenfield's writing, so I wanted to check this out. I actually found myself really enjoying it. This collection of stories will appeal to the average person because it's just like you're listening to a friend tell you about an experience they had in their past. Sittenfield's writing is so engaging and conversational. I really like that in a writer. I was amazed at how much emotion she captured in so few words. 

I think this book will appeal to women my age who often wonder if they are still the same person they were back in the, say, 90's. They will relate to the cringe-worthy memories and the awkward moments of young adulthood. I found myself relating to many of the stories, even if the scenarios weren't the same, I experienced the same feelings. It made me feel somehow validated in my awkwardness. 

After having read these stories, I may be more open to reading other short stories. Maybe I just hadn't been reading the right ones! If you're a fan of Curtis Sittenfield, this is a must-read! (Even if you aren't familiar with her writing, I'd encourage you to check it out.)
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I've never read any of Sittenfeld's novels. I started Prep twice and for whatever reason I only got a few chapters in each time. This was years ago and I don't even remember why I didn't feel compelled to read on. You Think It, I'll Say It has me wanting to see if her novels are as interesting as these little nuggets. 
A majority of these stories involve the judgements people make about others, whether it is an infant's mother comparing her parenting to another's, a thirty-something remembering a high school acquaintance, or a woman tagging a former lover as a present hypocrite. There are petty jealousies, friends who we hang out with, even though they are kind of an ass, and people questioning some aspect of their relationships.  The result is thoroughly modern in its approach of the comparisons and expectations people (mostly, women) create in their daily lives. There were some political references in this book (mainly of the Trump election variety), but they were not the main focus of the stories they appear in. They just add a little flavor. None of the stories ever feel too long or drag on. Very enjoyable!  I read this collection in one day.   
I appreciate Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing me the chance to review this collection in exchange for my honest review.
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I went into this already a Sittenfeld fan, and was not disappointed. And as a middle-aged mom in the Midwest, I am even more enthusiastic than before. Yes, much of what we are thinking, Curtis Sittenfeld is saying.
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