Cover Image: Objects of Desire

Objects of Desire

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Objects of Desire contains several true to life stories.  I enjoyed reading them all.  Clare's characters all seemed to be almost floating through life.  They just seemed to be going through the motions, however dull or exciting they could have been.  I almost felt like they were in a fog.  She wrote them so well, though.  I could feel their emotions and pain even without excessive descriptors. Since there wasn't much in the way of descriptors, I did find it hard to connect on a deeper level with the characters.  This is what kept me from giving the book five stars.

I look forward to reading more from Clare Sestanovich to see if this is her normal style of writing or if she chose to write this way just for the sake of short stories.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for a free and unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
I don't love reading short stories but I so much enjoyed these sharp vignettes of so many women. Each story really resonated with me and the misery and confusion of life as a young or middle aged woman. I found myself underlining a lot of passages. Recommend.
Was this review helpful?
The writing in this collection is so strong. Sestanovich is able to describe the mundane in a way that captures its beauty. I love stories rooted in longing, failure, reflection, shame, etc. and this book has all of it. I will say that the stories have not stayed with me, or have merged together in my mind, particularly in their lack of stakes. The stories are tonally consistent, yet I wish there was a bit more “oomph” to the stories. However, these thoughts are asking these stories to be something they are not - these are ultimately reflective ruminations on desire in many of its forms. I will definitely read whatever she writes next, even though I left this feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Was this review helpful?
This is a strong and compelling debut.  This short story collection explores relationships of women at all stages of life.  Through these relationships, the central characters reflect on their lives, their pasts, and what is to come.  This is a quick but quite impactful read.  The stories each stand alone but, together, create an intriguing tapestry about modern life and interactions.

Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
Did I read this collection of short stories in a single sitting? Yes.
Did I read it once again right after I finished it? Oh yes.
Am I going to get myself a physical copy as soon as I can? DEFINITELY.

A collection of short stories by Claire Sestanovich, 'Objects of Desire' is a plethora of yearning desires of women and the inequitable ways by which women become a prey in the power dynamics of the various relationships between men and women. A brilliant storytelling accompanied by touching the lives of some requisite incident that'll determine the direction of the women in each of the eleven stories will sometimes make the reader sympathetic, sometimes angry and sometimes leave a strange sense of melancholy. 

A woman fell she was in control as she was sleeping with a virgin has to turn to the man to take care of the consequences, a consensual affair turning into a case of sexual harrasment, a forbidden romance, an emotionally draining relationship, a case of where the loyalties lie- Sestanovich's women go through the age old demonstration that it is and will always be 'her' fault. No one cares if she was merely a human with her human choices or if she was the source of power who was drained for the favoured gender to win as always. The delicate emotional responses by the women after they were wronged leaves the question- will this ever stop? Betrayal is all over the place and there's no escape it seems, even from the one's closest to the heart or even from one's self. 

A magnificent debut which gives an impression that the author is a great observer and has perceived the lives of the women from real life.

I've received an e-ARC from Netgalley and the publisher. All reviews are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Beautiful. Writing. 

Objects of Desire is written in such a thoughful, precise, and beautiful way that you can truly imagine the characters and their thoughts and dreams, the setting, the minute details, everything. I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it. I loved that each story was short and somehow also gave you enough time to learn the characters and see their worldview, but they were also too short to come to a resolution. Sestanovich has such unique writing, and I absolutely loved this book. I would definitely recommend to poetry fans or those who really appreciate how each word in a sentence is carefully placed to build up the story. It is human, it is emotionally charged, and it is incredible. Read this book!
Was this review helpful?
Objects of Desire is a sharp and sometimes sad collection of stories that examines the lives of women in an interesting way. The stories explore the lives of separate women all navigating times of change and longing and dissatisfaction. I found myself thinking about what makes us happy and what happens when those things/people are no longer around or just no longer make us happy. The titular story is one of the strongest in the collection and really showcases the slightly depressing yet matter of fact tone of the book. 
 Sestanovich does an amazing job making small everyday occurrences into profound turning points. Terms of Agreement, my favorite story in the collection, weaves the difficulty of maintaining a friendship with a dynamic person into the lifespan of a relationship. The central character reminded me of Caroline Calloway in an interesting and nuanced perspective of the type of charismatic friend that simultaneously holds together and drives apart the people around them. 

While the stories have a melancholy tone, I wasn’t left feeling sad. Instead I felt comforted by the camaraderie of seeing my own small sorrows in the hearts of other women and knowing those sorrows are valid, beautiful even. I’m curious to see what Sestanovich writes next.
Was this review helpful?
This is a wonderful debut collection of short stories by Clare Sestanovich. A few of them leave a little to be desired, the endings not quite resolute nor thought provoking. At times I found myself a little confused at what the point, moral or purpose of the story ultimately was, unsure of the lesson or sentiment trying to be conveyed by the author. But overall it was a nice collection of stories, and I would definitely recommend it to someone who enjoys short fiction and reading about snapshots of people's lives. The writing is easy, clean, concise.
Was this review helpful?
Short stories and I have not always gotten along, but either I've gotten more patient with them or I have gotten better at choosing the short story collections for myself.  I suspect it's a bit of both — one playing off the other.  In Objects of Desire, Sestanovich has loosely themed this collection of eleven stories into an exploration of the different ways humans experience desire and the many facets of this feeling — including the myriad of objects onto which we lay this yearning.  Nicely paired with "desire" is this thread of melancholy running through each story, perhaps enhancing the desire each story represents by juxtaposing it against a sadness lying beneath the longing.

Each story seems to be the perfect length and ends in a rather abrupt way.  While I'm unsure of the Sestanovich's intention, it did enhance natural voyeuristic tendencies — and it reminded me of the old motto: "Always leave them wanting more."  Which capitalizes on the reader's desire for more.  Each ending reinforced the notion that Sestanovich was presenting this glimpse into someone's life, however subtly, and slamming the door leading to it.  The endings are sudden and feel precisely timed.  Any one of these has the potential to be a longer story — each with a budding desire to be more.  

I think given the right choice of performers, this would make an excellent audiobook, too. An interesting debut from Clare Sestanovich.  I'm excited to see where she goes next.
Was this review helpful?
In her debut short story collection, Objects of Desire, Clare Sestanovich pairs intellectual prowess with a stunning display of craft to form narratives focused around seemingly inconsequential observations that are both naturally evocative and highly sophisticated. Despite the closeness with which Sestanovish watches and describes her characters and their unfulfilled desires, she keeps the reader at arms length in an impressive resolve of austerity and empathy developed through wry observation. The stories are messy: in “Old Hope” a young narrator resumes conversations with an old English teacher while understanding her own personhood and in “Annunciation” when the passive narrator observes the bizarre and unbelievable lives of those around her. But, they are also delicate and at times unnerving, placing the reader inside a specific, lived life that left me with a sense of yearning at the end of each story. Sestanovich’s stories are clever and rich with compelling details that reveal the origins of desire and fulfillment. It’s hard to believe this is a debut, but I loved this book and I can’t wait to read it again.
Was this review helpful?
This is the kind of book that, when I read it, I'm almost annoyed at how well written it is. More than once I thought, "who gave you the right to be this good?" as I inhaled one story after another. I'm convinced it's because Clare Sestanovich is a New Yorker editor at her day job - every sentence is deliberate and affective. I hesitate to call her an "economical" writer, because that word suggests an austerity that doesn't apply. Sestanovich's prose isn't austere; it's next level. I loved this collection, and I can't wait for more people to read it so I can talk about it even more.
Was this review helpful?
*I was sent a free ARC of this book by Knopf in exchange for an honest review*

I requested this debut collection after reading, and loving, one of Clare Sestanovich’s stories in The New Yorker. These are slice-of-life stories that explore the desire, heartbreak, and yearning of contemporary women from adolescence through middle age. 

This was a very slow start that really found its way at about the halfway point. The best stories of the bunch are “Make Believe” and “Separation” (the aforementioned New Yorker story). At its strongest, Sestanovich’s prose is sharp, witty, and irreverent. Her writing shines in its dialogue and simple-but-specific imagery. 

While I adored the atmosphere of these stories, many of them lacked in their endings - very abrupt, failing to take the needed space to be fully resonant. This is a very strong debut, and while I don’t know that I will seek out another collection from Sestanovich, I would love to read a novel from her in the future.
Was this review helpful?
I'm in awe at what Sesanovich has achieved here. This is really an incredible collection. There's a startling fluidity in these stories, as characters careen from the mundane to the more shocking. Each story deals with desire, or really a kind of intimacy, with several stories tackling inter-personal relationships as they are subjected to the revelation of a pregnancy or cheating or a long-lost sibling. The prose is gorgeous, the way sentences are arranged so purposefully in any given paragraph. In a time of many great collections (Andrew Martin's, Emma Cline's), this stands as one of the best.
Was this review helpful?
Author Clare Sestanovich is truly the best short story writer I have encountered since  I discovered Tessa Hadley. These stories are astonishing. I laughed out loud often and gasped not a few times too. 

Clare’s characters often seem as though they are being pulled and pushed by forces they believe they have no control over. There is a passiveness to them that is born of their youth, I believe.

The sex in these stories often also begins passively and ends without much satisfaction. And yet the desire between characters is sensuous and then in a moment awkwardly unsatisfactory. But beautiful.

What I mean to say in my clumsy way is that every moment in these remarkable stories rang true. The cinematic quality in this perfect writing made me believe I was there in the room or on the Staten Island Ferry.

Remarkable. Mesmerizing. True.

Was this review helpful?
This short story collection wonderfully juxtaposes the mundane with explosive. Across eleven tales looking at everything from sexual harassment to finding yourself, Sestanovich captures desire in it’s many facets.

This collection has deftly written tales which tastefully highlights personal fulfillment, while sacrificing any thing else to get there. After ruminating on this collection, three tales stood out to me.

One focuses on a mother, during a lunch when her son announces his engagement. She is pulled into a revere of when she owned her own design studio, and subsequently sexually harasses one of her employees during a crisis. The second focuses on a brilliant teen who foregoes college to try and explore art. The final story is about a woman who moves to the desert, builds a home, and is left behind by her boyfriend.

Each of these women were incredible studies of desire. One is haunted by a selfish decision, another by a lack of agency, and the final one is set free by having her plans go out the window. Each tale confines a woman, and then explodes as they break free.

Hemmingway-esque, Sestanovich spares few words for feeling. Her characters deftly move across the landscape; literally from coast to coast through most the stories. In this world there are no states outside of California and the North East (insert Midwestern eye roll).

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the abstract nature of desire across these tales. As an almost invisible character, desire laces across the book, without ever taking center stage.
Was this review helpful?