Published April 2018 by Random House Publishing
Source: my ecopy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review
A suburban mother of two fantasizes about the downfall of an old friend whose wholesome lifestyle empire may or may not be built on a lie. A high-powered lawyer honeymooning with her husband is caught off guard by the appearance of the girl who tormented her in high school. A shy Ivy League student learns the truth about a classmate’s seemingly enviable life.
Throughout the ten stories in You Think It, I’ll Say It, Sittenfeld upends assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided.
With moving insight and uncanny precision, Curtis Sittenfeld pinpoints the questionable decisions, missed connections, and sometimes extraordinary coincidences that make up a life. Indeed, she writes what we’re all thinking—if only we could express it with the wit of a master satirist, the storytelling gifts of an old-fashioned raconteur, and the vision of an American original.
I liked this collection right from the first story, a story in which the main character gets caught up in a game called "I'll Think It, You Say It" that leads her down a path to obsession over a man who isn't her husband. "...alarmingly, I'll Think It, You Say It left her as cheerful and energized as a Zumba class." Julie is a woman who has settled into her family's life in the suburbs; the attention of another man makes her feel alive again.
"It wasn't that talking to Graham had made her feel lovestruck, not remotely, not then. It was more that it had made her feel big-boomed, curly-haired, high-spirited, and Jewish. Even if it was only by that point symbolic rather than literal, it had made her feel like herself."This is a solid collection of stories about relationships of all kinds. Like all short story collections, I liked some of the stories better than others but more as a matter of preference than that any of the stories were weaker than others. Many had interesting twists which I won't share with you because I don't want to spoil anything. There's an interesting story that I can't help but think took Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, as a launch point. Some stories are about friendships, some are about marriages, some are about both. There was one story were I was highlighting like crazy because I was trying to figure out if there were editing errors that weren't, in fact, errors. If you do read this collection, I'd love if you can tell me if you figure out which story this was that exposed my prejudice.
If I find a flaw in Sittenfeld's writing it's that her writing can come off as elitist. In the above story, it seems clear she feels like the suburbs are the place people go to lose themselves but not in the good way. In another story she writes: "As if Bill and Barbara Adams of Traverse City, Michigan, even grasp what Uber is." I don't live in Traverse City, Michigan, but I know people who grew up there and I'm fairly certain that it's not the isolated outpost Sittenfeld seems to be insinuating. Little jabs like that can gnaw at me and turn my opinion about a book.
Fortunately, there was enough I liked about this collection for me to overlook those little jabs. I tend to have such mixed feelings about short story collections and often come away from them feeling like I wanted more from many of the stories or that there were too many weak stories to recommend the book. This is a collection that has left me thinking I'd like to read more short stories and that's a good thing.