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“We are all walking around this city with our hearts sadly swimming in our chests, like dying fish on the surface of a still pond. It’s enough to make you give up entirely.” —from Instant Love But we don’t give up. We keep trying. We’re either too stupid to learn from our mistakes or we honestly believe that the next time will be different; it’s hard to say which. Driven by “We are all walking around this city with our hearts sadly swimming in our chests, like dying fish on the surface of a still pond. It’s enough to make you give up entirely.” —from Instant Love But we don’t give up. We keep trying. We’re either too stupid to learn from our mistakes or we honestly believe that the next time will be different; it’s hard to say which. Driven by the mad hopefulness that is part of the human condition, we are constantly falling in and out of love with a slightly different version of the person who came before. Jami Attenberg chronicles those exact moments with heartbreaking realism in her powerful debut, Instant Love. Told through the eyes of three young women and their friends and lovers, Instant Love explores what it means to be in love, what it means to be lonely, and what it means to be both at the same time. Holly turns to computer dating to find love even as she thinks wistfully of a former boyfriend who loved her well and fed her ice cream. Maggie recounts the story of her one crazy summer to her disbelieving husband and feels the distance between them grow wider than the void across their king-sized bed. And Sarah Lee remembers the one who got away and the one she ran away from, all the while moving toward the one she can actually love. As Holly, Maggie, and Sarah Lee move through the rituals of modern love, they have to decide who is worth taking a chance on in a world where things don’t fall into place easily, people are often difficult, and disappointment is the rule. Through their stories, Attenberg presents a rare, honest look at love. Also available as an eBook. From the Hardcover edition.


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“We are all walking around this city with our hearts sadly swimming in our chests, like dying fish on the surface of a still pond. It’s enough to make you give up entirely.” —from Instant Love But we don’t give up. We keep trying. We’re either too stupid to learn from our mistakes or we honestly believe that the next time will be different; it’s hard to say which. Driven by “We are all walking around this city with our hearts sadly swimming in our chests, like dying fish on the surface of a still pond. It’s enough to make you give up entirely.” —from Instant Love But we don’t give up. We keep trying. We’re either too stupid to learn from our mistakes or we honestly believe that the next time will be different; it’s hard to say which. Driven by the mad hopefulness that is part of the human condition, we are constantly falling in and out of love with a slightly different version of the person who came before. Jami Attenberg chronicles those exact moments with heartbreaking realism in her powerful debut, Instant Love. Told through the eyes of three young women and their friends and lovers, Instant Love explores what it means to be in love, what it means to be lonely, and what it means to be both at the same time. Holly turns to computer dating to find love even as she thinks wistfully of a former boyfriend who loved her well and fed her ice cream. Maggie recounts the story of her one crazy summer to her disbelieving husband and feels the distance between them grow wider than the void across their king-sized bed. And Sarah Lee remembers the one who got away and the one she ran away from, all the while moving toward the one she can actually love. As Holly, Maggie, and Sarah Lee move through the rituals of modern love, they have to decide who is worth taking a chance on in a world where things don’t fall into place easily, people are often difficult, and disappointment is the rule. Through their stories, Attenberg presents a rare, honest look at love. Also available as an eBook. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Instant Love: Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    i had never thought much of this book. sure, i had seen it around, the way you see things, but short stories about the love lives of women?? barf city. i don't read chick lit because i don't find it particularly interesting: shopping, looking for a husband, planning a family- none of these things are "me." but when i went to the adam levin reading with oriana, jami attenberg was also reading. she read a portion of the first short story in this collection, and everything i am made of responded wi i had never thought much of this book. sure, i had seen it around, the way you see things, but short stories about the love lives of women?? barf city. i don't read chick lit because i don't find it particularly interesting: shopping, looking for a husband, planning a family- none of these things are "me." but when i went to the adam levin reading with oriana, jami attenberg was also reading. she read a portion of the first short story in this collection, and everything i am made of responded with joy. this is nowhere near chick lit!! i told her as much at the bar after the reading and i made her promise to come to my store and sign stock that i would order in quantity and keep permanently on my table. since then, they have sold very well, and a co-worker of mine read this book, and is halfway through her full-length novel. she has taken over union square, ms attenberg has. the first story is still my favorite. it uses a deceptively breezy and conversational tone, chatty like any teenage girl: Tonight she's going on a date, that's why all the makupping. She's going out with a boy named Christian who is nineteen and who likes the Smiths and the Cure and New Order. Holly is seventeen and likes New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division. She knows she should like the Smiths but Morrissey seems like such a whiny turd. Holly has lied to Christian about this because he worships Morrissey. Morrissey changed his life forever, that's what Christian says. he's a vegetarian now and everything. Meat is murder, he says. christian sounds like every guy i dated when i was fourteen; so earnest and aimless and doomed, so doomed... And he has shaved the sides of his head and left the hair on top long so that it spills over his narrow face in an awkward way and makes him look vaguely like a celery stick. in other words, he looks like this: wheee! but rarrrr - this story is a tightly compressed block of experiential data that will kick your ass. it is everything that makes up teen love and betrayal. it is all of the teenaged feelings of insecurity and wanting to belong while paradoxically simultaneously feeling superior to everyone else in your peer group. it was so familiar and perfectly captured - feelings that were so strong turning so abruptly, engaging in relationships as scientific or anthropological studies: And then he says: Are you turned on? He asks her questions like this, and she has to answer yes even if she feels stupid saying it, because if she doesn't he will stop with the experimenting. oh, god, the things we teenaged girls put up with... the rest of the stories follow the same three characters through various stages in their lives. its structure is like a somewhat less experimental goon squad in that some of the stories are halfway over before the connection to the previous characters is even revealed. it covers every nook and cranny of "relationships": nostalgic longings for the one that got away, embittered endings, self-destructive one-night-stands, opportunistic flirtations, unsuitable first (and second) dates... My love life since I moved to New York from Chicago has been like a desert. I've had tiny little interactions of love, like finding shallow pools of water to drink from, and then I've moved on, hoping that I've stored enough love and affection and excitement to get me to the next place. I've been stuck with a string of unsuccessful two-month relationships, the deaths of which have burned out almost all my romantic instinct and desire. I was in love with Alan, but I wasn't ready for it yet. I'm probably still not ready. But being who I am—not that I particularly know who I am, I just know who I'm not—I felt I should keep trying for love. I mixed up the real dates with the one-night-stands just enough to keep myself satiated. On the dates you did not fuck, in the bars you did. Those late nights at the bars, I recognize now, were just as much work as the dates: the talking, the drinking, the questioning, the laughing so hard at jokes that weren't that funny. They just never were funny. It's not funny, none of it, I know. it is a whole spectrum of short stories - loosely gathered. it reads like calling an old friend after a three-year absence and witnessing where they are now vs where you had left them. i really enjoyed the structure of this thing. unlike a novel, not all of the details are spelled out - there is much lost in silence, many scenes are allusions only. in the real world, even friends, even lovers, have these knowledge gaps. this structure gives off a strong sense of realism precisely because of these omissions. this collection could quite easily have gone the cynical route. why are all relationships doomed, why are all men assholes blah blah blah. but these characters, although occasionally bitter or vengeful, keep on trying to make their connections. just because one fails, doesn't mean there isn't the right one that will be the right one. there is an optimism to all of these characters, even at their lowest, that the perfect match is possible.and it is bittersweet and endearing. Sarah Lee falls in love every time she takes the subway, so she's started taking the bus instead. The L train from Williamsburg to the East Village is killing her, with all these cute young boys, with their lovely young skin and doe eyes and mussed-up hair, mussed up just so and their vintage-store winter coats, some military style, stiff and serious-looking, some more textured and glamorous, as if they should be walking the streets of London circa 1932; and all kinds of crazy kicks on their feet, expensive tennis shoes of vibrant colors, sturdy walking boots, and lately, cowboy boots with heels, but those are worn by the gay boys, so she just admires their feet and ignores the rest. And they are all reading books, worn paperbacks mainly, she imagines they've borrowed from roommates or girlfriends, or listening to their iPods on shuffle. Some of them are checking out the girls—their glamour-puss counterparts, equally casually yet strictly attired—looking at their asses or their hair or their new shoes, wondering what those shoes would look like wedged between the bed and wall of their crappy, crumbly apartment, their naked bodies splayed out in some uncomfortable, pornographic position. They are wondering what it would be like to fuck them, Sarah Lee firmly believes. And while she doesn't want that, want them to only want to fuck her, she wishes, still, that they might glance at her. But they don't. They look anywhere but at her, in the old winter coat she bought at the ninety-nine-cents-a-pound Salvation Army outlet in Seattle, fading pink wool with childlike bejeweled buttons she sewed on herself, not as tough as it used to be, sometimes coats just die, she needs to admit that to herself one of these days; and even if they looked beyond the coat she knows she is too old and not cool enough for them, and sometimes she still speaks with a stutter when she meets new people (though it is much better now) so that even if they could see something in her once she opened her mouth they might move on to the next person, pretend like she didn't exist, until suddenly, she simply didn't. And there is nothing worse than not existing. So she takes the bus to the city instead... seriously well done. love. come to my blog!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Karen wrote a review for this book, and things to really heated in the discussion that followed. I'm not looking to re-open that can of worms, but I thought of it because the term that sparked off the nonsense argument was 'chick-lit'. Chick-lit is as meaningless of a genre as grunge was. It's a marketing term being used to sell some similar things after one or more things got really popular and the companies responsible for putting out more things are trying to capitalize on sales by selling ot Karen wrote a review for this book, and things to really heated in the discussion that followed. I'm not looking to re-open that can of worms, but I thought of it because the term that sparked off the nonsense argument was 'chick-lit'. Chick-lit is as meaningless of a genre as grunge was. It's a marketing term being used to sell some similar things after one or more things got really popular and the companies responsible for putting out more things are trying to capitalize on sales by selling other things to the disproportionate amount of people who bought the widely popular thing. Some people rally around the new term and start to react in a way that makes the sellers of these things happy, some people get up in arms about the term, which also probably makes the sellers of these things happy because in vocal condemnation they are keeping the term and the products associated with it in the public consciousness and some people just aren't affected by the products and might have some soft opinion on the matter but they just really don't care. Take grunge for example. If you look at the bands being put in this genre the only thing that can really be said that unites them all is that they were from the Pacific Northwest (originally). Stylistically if you liked Nirvana there was nothing about Alice in Chains or Soundgarden that would necessarily appeal to you. If you liked proto-Grunge band The Meat Puppets there was no reason that the classic rock drabness of Pearl Jam would mean anything to you. Of course those of us at the time were fairly stupid to all of this and swallowed the whole marketing ploy hook line and sinker and continued to be woefully confused by what we were being marketed. For me personally this dissonance probably came most to a head when I saw people beating the shit out of each other in a mosh-pit to Frente (or maybe this was just because it was Albany and certain elements thought that anyone standing on a stage had to be playing chugga-chugg e-minor hardcore). But back to chick-lit. This flourished awhile back in the late 90's and early whatever the last decade is called (00's?). The books were all marketed to be bright, and happy colors. There were generally about woman and their relationship woes. My impression is that they were comedic, you know like a book version of a romantic comedy. Were they all? I have no idea. I'm an outsider to this, the bright colored covers and way they were presented were designed to not appeal to me, which is what they wanted. They were aimed at a particular audience. Did this hurt certain author's reputations? Maybe somewhat, but by the same measure it probably also sold them more books at the time than if they were aimed straight into the sales abyss of modern literary novels. It's certainly arguable that there was a blow back to the whole chick-lit phenomena and any young woman writing about dating might not be able to escape the stigma, and this would be problematic if the writing is not about relationships in the 'romantic-comedy' sort of style, or if you couldn't picture someone like Reese Witherspoon playing the protagonist. As I see it, the problem with books about young single people dating is that it's a fairly limited terrain to write about. It's been done a bazillion times (that is a scientific figure, Columbia University did a study). In the literary world it rivals the academia, the unnoticed young genius and the suburban novel as topic written about so often that one could ask, is there any reason to read yet another novel / collection of short stories about this?* But these topics get re-written about again and again. More books come out about late twenty year old men who are struggling writers who just need to be discovered, about the malaise of suburbia and the misadventures of navigating the minefield of modern love (thankfully? the academic novel seems to be in decline). And you know what? Some of these are great books because the people who write them can write their fucking asses off, take a tired topic and give it new life, twist the normal situations so that they feel new and fresh. That is what Jami Attenberg does here. It would be so easy to look at this book and just dismiss it as another young writer chronicling the difficulties of love in an urban setting. Yeah, that is what the book is. It's a sort of novel / sort of collection of short stories loosely based around three women and the different stages they go through romantic encounters. We see them as teenagers, and in their twenties and finally as 'old' women in their early thirties (hey, thanks Jami for making me feel really old!), but we also get stories about the father of two of the characters and ones that deal primarily with characters that would have stayed peripheral if this had been a more straight forward novel told in three narratives. The short-story as novel format creates something like a photo-album of awful relationships and shitty choices. Like I care, thinks Holly. She has already packed up her (New Order) shirt in th closet. She likes Sonic Youth now, and the Pixies, bands that have girl who are messy and tough. She is sick of faggy boys who strum their guitars and cry and people who work beneath their potential. She is so over it. In a year she will be somewhere new, studying to be a doctor, a hero, a rock star, and they will still be there, smoking their goddamn cigarettes and eating their stupid vegetarian burritos. In a way I feel sorry for them, she thinks. In a way. I laughed at this when I first read it. The almost adult perspective the seventeen year old character shows at her loser Morrissey wannabe ex, but now going reading the passage and knowing the characters trajectory there is another sense that can be read into the passage. I'm not going to say much more than that, just to say that um, her life doesn't turn out that great. No ones does in this book, this chronicle of small disasters that whack the characters around but which might seem insignificant from an outside perspective (does anything that really affects our life ever seem that significant to other people?) Another passage I enjoyed, this one made me chuckle a bit on the subway. He was the center of her universe for forty-five minutes a day. She waited to see what atrocity would come out of his mouth next. Would he be sexist today? Or would his thinly veiled racism be making a visit (He had a severe preoccupation with the length and width of the penises belonging to black professional athletes.) Or would he be showing blatant disrespect for the mother of his children today? He was so awesome. He was the most horrible man she had ever met in her entire life, and she was kind of in love with him. Love in this story comes to an interesting end. I was expecting this book to be good, I had it on good authority that it was some good shit, but I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. If I wasn't so stingy I'd probably give it five stars, or maybe if I wasn't such a jerk and probably knocked it down a star just because it is another of those books about love and relationships and young people in hip places. One last rambling brain fart. I don't know the answer to this, but almost every story here has sex in it. The sex never felt like anything other than just a part of the characters' lives though, even when it was meant to be sort of shocking. I was curious how in this book the almost constant presence of sex worked in the book, but in the Mary Gaitskill collection I read recently I found it off-putting and, well, vulgar (not that she was more graphic, and probably Attenberg had more sexual things in her collection, if you were rating on various types of acts and stuff). In this collection the sex worked and it fit into the work, where in the Gaitskill stories sex was probably even more intertwined with the themes and necessity of the narrative but every time it came up in the her stories it had the same uncomfortable feeling as sitting across from someone in a crowded place who is loudly giving gynecological descriptions of their uterus. Maybe slightly charming in it's shockingness the first time, but kind of embarrassing after awhile. As I said I don't know the answer, maybe Attenberg is just a better writer than Gaitskill. Maybe it's something more mechanical. I don't know. Just thought I'd throw that out there since my Gaitskill review was sort of about who I didn't like certain things about her stories that were also present in these stories, but here I wasn't put off at all by them. *This is as fine point as any to break away from the main text and ask why is there not dude-lit? Or why did glad-lit fail to catch on? Simple reason? For the demographic that is being appealed to the ladies read more than the guys. And the guys who do read are either too sad and 'intellectual' to read books about single guys looking for the love of their life, or they still like Star Wars a bit too much. And I guess for the small percentage of dudes who want to be like their heroes on the "Jersey Shore" and who also read they can read about some douche bag who fucks anything that moves and gets drunk all the time when they dip into something like Tucker Max. There is (was?) no male counterpart to the female demographic that chick-lit appealed to. The closest thing is probably all the dudes who read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy (but there are a lot of ladies reading those, too).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eh?Eh!

    I've been holding on to a rather sickening view of a relationship as being like two seeds planted next to each other, roots and branches entwining as time passes. You grow together! Awwwwww.... I'm not the adventurous kind of gal, to go out and effectively burst my own bubbles as they form, so books like this are probably good for me. Don't get me wrong, while I was a late bloomer to just about everything, that made my mistakes HUGE* when I finally did venture out beyond my homework and the famil I've been holding on to a rather sickening view of a relationship as being like two seeds planted next to each other, roots and branches entwining as time passes. You grow together! Awwwwww.... I'm not the adventurous kind of gal, to go out and effectively burst my own bubbles as they form, so books like this are probably good for me. Don't get me wrong, while I was a late bloomer to just about everything, that made my mistakes HUGE* when I finally did venture out beyond my homework and the family/religion/career goals tunnel. I've bumbled and stumbled enough that there are at least echoes in most of these stories to resonate in me and through my experiences. Man. I've been so dumb. Although it may not be what you're meant to take away from this book, I'm glad I haven't been as dumb as I could've been. This is a collection of short stories that seem to cover love and the pursuit of it from the particular point of view. I'm not sure what to call it, the woman on the go? That's not quite right, unless it can convey a "go" where the wheels might spin in place and form ruts that just get deeper. The stories dance around each other, with most of the characters encountering each other directly or through another. They try, and fail, and try again. Attenberg hit all the right notes by avoiding an overly heavy reliance on metaphor, unlike me and my trees, and simply describing events and thoughts and letting these sink into your head. *HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE

  4. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    You should probably just go read Karen's review, or Eh's, because I have a head like a sieve, and it's been over a month since I read this, and I forgot all the things I'd wanted to say about it. But I will say this: It's good. I liked it a bunch. I like when people do the interlocking-stories thing (although no one does it better than Daniel Handler in the unbelievably spectacular Adverbs ). I mean, the reason I don't love short stories is because they're so damn short, but then if you put a You should probably just go read Karen's review, or Eh's, because I have a head like a sieve, and it's been over a month since I read this, and I forgot all the things I'd wanted to say about it. But I will say this: It's good. I liked it a bunch. I like when people do the interlocking-stories thing (although no one does it better than Daniel Handler in the unbelievably spectacular Adverbs ). I mean, the reason I don't love short stories is because they're so damn short, but then if you put a bunch of stories together—not novelishly, but uh, buildingly I guess?—then that makes me feel like it's more worth my time and mental energy. Also: Unsurprisingly, I liked the teenage parts the most, because in my head I am kind of still sixteen, and that rawness and hysteria of being a teenager just always makes me shiver. Like this line, way at the beginning of the book on page 4: "She thought he was going to leave, but then he stepped to the side and waited, and her heart fucking flung at her chest, hard and fast and repeatedly, because oh my god, this guy is going to like me." Grrrrrrrr omg I am such a sucker for that shit. I should probably say some other stuff about loneliness and desperation, about solitary clawing want, about love and its opposites, about characters and settings and big dogs and sorrow—but like I said, I forgot all the smart things I had in my head while I was reading. It's good though, and you should probably read it. Jami rules.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I will read everything that Jami publishes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I like short stories, and it seemed like 95% of the reviews for this were promising. Fictional but also extremely realistic. I got through maybe 3 stories before I just started skimming and ended up slamming the book shut halfway through. Granted, maybe the heartless depiction of dating and physical attraction rubbed wrong against my admittedly romantic side, but good lord. I did not feel inspired by any of these women through the choices they made or the men they dated. There was no retribution I like short stories, and it seemed like 95% of the reviews for this were promising. Fictional but also extremely realistic. I got through maybe 3 stories before I just started skimming and ended up slamming the book shut halfway through. Granted, maybe the heartless depiction of dating and physical attraction rubbed wrong against my admittedly romantic side, but good lord. I did not feel inspired by any of these women through the choices they made or the men they dated. There was no retribution, maybe if I had stuck through to the end the interspersed stories would've made more sense, but I just didn't care to know after a point. If you're looking for some vicarious form of getting meaningless sex, here you go. Or perhaps you want to feel pessimistic about all relationships (even outside of dating ones) and their inevitable endings, this book is also for you. Perhaps this book was just a large vent for a very troubled past. If so, well done, the bitterness really shone through. What I wanted to see was women holding out hope, even after getting their heart broken. Women recognizing the shit that life can deal, breaking down, but then learning to stand strong against it. Not selfish, lonely women that brought what they often knew to be inevitable heartbreak upon themselves just because they felt like life had no meaning/they were horny. Also, in general, the men in this novel were treated very superficially. I feel like we focused way too much on the inner workings of the female mind, and that ain't pretty. Not to mention, the writing was not my favorite. I really do not need to know every detail of a person's outfit, not when it's irrelevant to the story. The author's tendency to focus on certain physical attributes also really bugged me and was distracting. Her constant weaving between different points of view and storytelling could also have been done a bit more coherently. I wanted to like this book, and my dark side was drawn to the quote about "wandering hearts" and whatever, but it was just too dang high on the bleak scale. I wanted to find a relatable reference or character, having gone through "affairs of the heart" myself, but I couldn't find a thing. To sum it all up, it just felt like I was watching a really bad indy movie with horrible lighting and unnecessary sex scenes, with a plot that wasn't going anywhere good anytime soon. Over and out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Stein

    Let's go with 3 1/2 stars. I liked the writing itself, it was fresh and interesting. The book, meh. It read like a bunch of short stories which you realized were all interconnected. And I do usually like a book with everything that sort of touches on everything else, but this one just didn't work for me. Let's go with 3 1/2 stars. I liked the writing itself, it was fresh and interesting. The book, meh. It read like a bunch of short stories which you realized were all interconnected. And I do usually like a book with everything that sort of touches on everything else, but this one just didn't work for me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Brown

    Linked short stories about love. Interesting to read, as it's her first published book and you can see the roots of her later work in it. Linked short stories about love. Interesting to read, as it's her first published book and you can see the roots of her later work in it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    I loooooooved this book of short fiction, luffed it, luv. It has a great way of weaving a large cast of characters in and out of initially unrelated stories. Each piece has its own momentum and emotion. As you get farther along it becomes (became for me at least) an anticapatory pleasure to remember the previous characters, their relationships and their lives. This then caused me to continuously recall the early stories. Brilliant idea and execution. Also a few special moments of agonizing truth I loooooooved this book of short fiction, luffed it, luv. It has a great way of weaving a large cast of characters in and out of initially unrelated stories. Each piece has its own momentum and emotion. As you get farther along it becomes (became for me at least) an anticapatory pleasure to remember the previous characters, their relationships and their lives. This then caused me to continuously recall the early stories. Brilliant idea and execution. Also a few special moments of agonizing truthfulness regardless if it is fiction.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cassey

    This is fantastic. I love that as you go the stories are loosely intertwined. A sister mentioned becomes the main character of the next topic - but rarely though names but through incredibly vivid, detailed, descriptions of personality. Unique, true, modern, and just plain excellent. Highly recommended collection of short stories.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I just did not find any of the woman in these stories sympathetic. They all left me feeling that their inability to find and or keep love was their own fault. The female characters all seemed to me to be basically the same person over and over again and the men were treated very superficially.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Picked this up after finishing All Grown Up, and loved this even more. Genuine, relatable, beautiful

  13. 5 out of 5

    Satrajit Sanyal

    This book feels like a book you might have read before... it is a collection of short stories that are really, for lack of a better word 'common'. There is nothing remarkable about any of them and they just plod along. I really like Jami Attenberg as an author and expected more from this collection. It is the kind of book that you can have on your bedside table with several other books and go back to reading when you have nothing else to read. It doesn't have anything to grasp you or hold your at This book feels like a book you might have read before... it is a collection of short stories that are really, for lack of a better word 'common'. There is nothing remarkable about any of them and they just plod along. I really like Jami Attenberg as an author and expected more from this collection. It is the kind of book that you can have on your bedside table with several other books and go back to reading when you have nothing else to read. It doesn't have anything to grasp you or hold your attention but it is not bad either. It is a bland easy read that I would recommend if you can find a second hand copy

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    As other reviewers have mentioned, the characters aren't necessarily the most likeable people, but that's greatly to their benefit. They're not 100% likeable because they're people, often very young, making formative bad decisions. A lot of the book is about these people gathering wisdom the only way you can - fucking up. As other reviewers have mentioned, the characters aren't necessarily the most likeable people, but that's greatly to their benefit. They're not 100% likeable because they're people, often very young, making formative bad decisions. A lot of the book is about these people gathering wisdom the only way you can - fucking up.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I'll write a better review later, but this was great, and I really liked it! I'll write a better review later, but this was great, and I really liked it!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    A collection of stories w/interrelated characters in Attenberg's breezy, socially sharp, style. Just what I needed. A collection of stories w/interrelated characters in Attenberg's breezy, socially sharp, style. Just what I needed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    This one could be a quick read, but it wasn't for me -- mostly because I didn't want it to be. My first introduction to Jami Attenberg's work was her most recent novel The Middlesteins, which I read last February. Instant Love is several years older, but the qualities I found most attractive in Attenberg's writing are already in evidence here. She has a real talent for rendering beautiful the ugly, for imbuing the grotesque with humanity, for illuminating the quiet, dark moments that pass by most This one could be a quick read, but it wasn't for me -- mostly because I didn't want it to be. My first introduction to Jami Attenberg's work was her most recent novel The Middlesteins, which I read last February. Instant Love is several years older, but the qualities I found most attractive in Attenberg's writing are already in evidence here. She has a real talent for rendering beautiful the ugly, for imbuing the grotesque with humanity, for illuminating the quiet, dark moments that pass by most of us unnoticed. The characters that populate the stories of Instant Love reappear in various guises throughout the collection, and, for that reason, the book reads almost -- but not quite -- like a novel. Of the twelve stories, I feel that the strongest (and my favorites) were: "What Happened With Wolfowitz," "Dinner in Westchester," "Island Fever," "Mean Bone," "Instant Love," and "Sarah Lee Waits for Love." "Spare Change," which didn't appear in the hardback edition but was chosen to appear in paperback, was sad, and beautiful, and lovely. Recommended without hesitation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Jami Attenberg takes the essence of what it is to love someone and be loved by someone and makes you feel empathy for the characters in her stories. While I enjoyed the intertwining stories, I felt at times lost and at other times confused by what was going on. I was wondering why some characters were mentioned in some stories in which that had nothing to do with the plot of the story and gave no insight into the story. I think that at times she tried too hard to intertwine the stories, when they Jami Attenberg takes the essence of what it is to love someone and be loved by someone and makes you feel empathy for the characters in her stories. While I enjoyed the intertwining stories, I felt at times lost and at other times confused by what was going on. I was wondering why some characters were mentioned in some stories in which that had nothing to do with the plot of the story and gave no insight into the story. I think that at times she tried too hard to intertwine the stories, when they might have been better as a collection of short stories instead. All in all, it was an entertaining book, and I would like to read her newest novel, The Melting Season, when it comes out this month.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lorie Kleiner Eckert

    Is this a group of short stories intended to stand alone and apart or a novel made up of short stories that intersect to varying degrees? Either way, all the stories dealt with "lookin' for love in all the wrong places." And, some of the "looking for love" was a little over the top for me. I think a younger audience would enjoy this more than I did (at the ripe old age of 61). Even so, it was an interesting enough read and an author really has to tell an awful story to get less than 3 stars from Is this a group of short stories intended to stand alone and apart or a novel made up of short stories that intersect to varying degrees? Either way, all the stories dealt with "lookin' for love in all the wrong places." And, some of the "looking for love" was a little over the top for me. I think a younger audience would enjoy this more than I did (at the ripe old age of 61). Even so, it was an interesting enough read and an author really has to tell an awful story to get less than 3 stars from me. Also, I recently read Attenberg's newest book, The Middlesteins. I also gave it 3 stars though I liked it better than this one. I will probably try another of her books in the not too distant future, looking for a 4 star read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tamsen

    "Let me introduce you, she thinks. Here I am." I finished this with my coffee, wrapped up in a blanket as the rain poured down - a dog at my feet. I knew Jami Attenberg would be an amazing short-story writer. I read her latest, The Middlesteins, and there's this beautiful short story in the middle of the novel. It's told from a group perspective that is new to the reader, and it's more poignant and powerful than the novel itself. As soon as I finished The Middlesteins, I put this collection, Inst "Let me introduce you, she thinks. Here I am." I finished this with my coffee, wrapped up in a blanket as the rain poured down - a dog at my feet. I knew Jami Attenberg would be an amazing short-story writer. I read her latest, The Middlesteins, and there's this beautiful short story in the middle of the novel. It's told from a group perspective that is new to the reader, and it's more poignant and powerful than the novel itself. As soon as I finished The Middlesteins, I put this collection, Instant Love, on my list. I'm so glad I did. This very much came to a rare 5 star rating for me. I fell in love with the characters, with Attenberg, and especially with that quiet brewer from Oregon.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book is a collection of short stories, linked by three women characters--Holly, Maggie, and Sarah Lee. Each story is either about one of them or about somebody connected to them. It's the opposite of chick lit--the stories of love or looking for love are jagged and uncomfortable and so painfully realistic that it was hard to stop reading. They are stories of connection and failed connection and though they can be dark, the end result is not completely unhopeful. Just don't read it after a r This book is a collection of short stories, linked by three women characters--Holly, Maggie, and Sarah Lee. Each story is either about one of them or about somebody connected to them. It's the opposite of chick lit--the stories of love or looking for love are jagged and uncomfortable and so painfully realistic that it was hard to stop reading. They are stories of connection and failed connection and though they can be dark, the end result is not completely unhopeful. Just don't read it after a recent fight with a significant other or a break up.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tess Malone

    The pale blue cover, cliche title and corny blurb may lead you to dismiss this book as chick lit, but it doesn't froth like chick lit, rather, it cuts to the bone. Attenberg's observations are sharp, her characters richly flawed, their dialogue rivetingly honest; love is really only the connecting theme and not the answer. Attenberg conjures up other fantastic female writers. The interlocking stories feel like a pre-Jennifer Egan's "Visit From the Goon Squad." Her wit is reminiscent of Lorrie Mo The pale blue cover, cliche title and corny blurb may lead you to dismiss this book as chick lit, but it doesn't froth like chick lit, rather, it cuts to the bone. Attenberg's observations are sharp, her characters richly flawed, their dialogue rivetingly honest; love is really only the connecting theme and not the answer. Attenberg conjures up other fantastic female writers. The interlocking stories feel like a pre-Jennifer Egan's "Visit From the Goon Squad." Her wit is reminiscent of Lorrie Moore. However, Attenberg is a wholly original writer in her own right.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    You may have already heard but I’m a big Jami Attenberg fan and this one recently became available at the library. I loved the structure of hearing from multiple women and bouncing back and forth between their lives and, in some way, seeing the grass is always greener perspective that we can have viewing other people’s lives. Attenberg has a knack for writing unattractive feelings without making it feel judgmental which I really love in her books. We’re all screwed up in our own ways. https://www You may have already heard but I’m a big Jami Attenberg fan and this one recently became available at the library. I loved the structure of hearing from multiple women and bouncing back and forth between their lives and, in some way, seeing the grass is always greener perspective that we can have viewing other people’s lives. Attenberg has a knack for writing unattractive feelings without making it feel judgmental which I really love in her books. We’re all screwed up in our own ways. https://www.instagram.com/p/B_SZc-EFhKr/

  24. 4 out of 5

    lara

    i loved this for it's anti-chick-lit tendencies. . .it's not about getting the boy, but the ambiguous yet sometimes delicious feelings of what it means to get it on with the boy. . .it's one of the few books that gets into the non-romantic underbelly of romance. my fantastic friend sarah got me this book and i read the first chapter over lunch. . . and read it swiftly over the course of 2 nights. . . . i loved this for it's anti-chick-lit tendencies. . .it's not about getting the boy, but the ambiguous yet sometimes delicious feelings of what it means to get it on with the boy. . .it's one of the few books that gets into the non-romantic underbelly of romance. my fantastic friend sarah got me this book and i read the first chapter over lunch. . . and read it swiftly over the course of 2 nights. . . .

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I can't say that I really liked this book because some of the stories were just plain depressing and that wasn't really what I wanted to read. This book of short stories features characters as they go on quests for love and romance only to never really find what it is they want, or never really understand what it is they want. I think if I had read this in college, I would have liked it more, but at this stage in my life... not so much. I can't say that I really liked this book because some of the stories were just plain depressing and that wasn't really what I wanted to read. This book of short stories features characters as they go on quests for love and romance only to never really find what it is they want, or never really understand what it is they want. I think if I had read this in college, I would have liked it more, but at this stage in my life... not so much.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tracie

    Some of the stories were simple, and I was a little confused as to their purpose. At the end your realize that they're all intertwined. It's a little discerning, the stories. Quite pessimistic as far as the good kind of love is concerned, and doesn't offer much hope...regardless, it was still entertaining, and while I can't relate to all of it, it's still pretty realistic. Which is sad... A quick read that reaffirms my pessimism Some of the stories were simple, and I was a little confused as to their purpose. At the end your realize that they're all intertwined. It's a little discerning, the stories. Quite pessimistic as far as the good kind of love is concerned, and doesn't offer much hope...regardless, it was still entertaining, and while I can't relate to all of it, it's still pretty realistic. Which is sad... A quick read that reaffirms my pessimism

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane Lump

    This collection of short stories--snapshots really--leaves you feeling jagged. Is love really that awful? Are women all so confused and broken? There are some great flashes of insight( a la Sherwood Anderson?) but I felt that a little editorial discipline would have helped. I read this in one day and still had a hard time connecting the dots. Maybe the stories are supposed to stand on their own, but then why all the overlap?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Jussel

    A series of short stories albeit it, intertwined, with the characters looking for "that special person" to complete their lives. If you have someone in your life now that works, thank your lucky stars you aren't out there in the dating pool again. Especially after reading this. Interesting characters and compelling stories but one is left with, again, happy to not be "seeking". It seems to be a different ball of wax from when I was single. A series of short stories albeit it, intertwined, with the characters looking for "that special person" to complete their lives. If you have someone in your life now that works, thank your lucky stars you aren't out there in the dating pool again. Especially after reading this. Interesting characters and compelling stories but one is left with, again, happy to not be "seeking". It seems to be a different ball of wax from when I was single.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I seen that a lot of people gave this book four or five stars, but I just did not think that it was that good. It was sometimes confusing to follow and I felt that it ended abruptly. It was not your typical happy ending book where all the story lines wrap up neatly. In fact, it did really even feel like it had an ending at all.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Based on the cover (mine actually has a gorgeous melty popsicle) and the jacket, I expected this to be chick lit. And it was, of a sort, but better. It's a collection of interwoven short stories about girls and women moving through relationships. It's more well written than I'd have guessed and imminently more interesting. I was hoping for just a light, quick read. I got much more. Based on the cover (mine actually has a gorgeous melty popsicle) and the jacket, I expected this to be chick lit. And it was, of a sort, but better. It's a collection of interwoven short stories about girls and women moving through relationships. It's more well written than I'd have guessed and imminently more interesting. I was hoping for just a light, quick read. I got much more.

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