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Single, Carefree, Mellow

Single, Carefree, Mellow 3


by Katherine Heiny

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 23/02/2015

4/5 Rating 3 Reviews
The wonderful story collection from the author of Standard Deviation 'Heiny's work does something magical: gives women's interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve and makes you laugh along the way' Lena Dunham 'Like Cheever mixed with Ephron' New York Times 'Simply wonderful, I savoured every page' Guardian Maya's dog is dying, and she is planning to leave her boyfriend. On the whole she feels worse about the dog. Nina thought it might be difficult to summon the moral fortitude to have an extramarital affair with a Presbyterian minister living above the garbage, but she discovers that almost anything is possible. A teenager finds an affair with her history teacher too sealed off from the rest of her life, like the last slice of cake under a glass dome. These women are best friends, roommates and mistresses. They tipple and titillate, fantasize and fumble, worry and wander. They make poor choices in men and children's magicians and wise choices in what to wear to meet their lovers' wives. None of them are single (or carefree or mellow) but all are irresistible and all too familiar.
Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):

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  • Single, Carefree, Mellow

    by on

    Katherine Heiny’s book of short stories, ‘Single, Carefree, Mellow’ was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I don’t normally read short stories and am not always a fan of them but I do think you sometimes come across some really great ones. Not all of Heiny’s stories blew me away but I did like her style of writing and a couple of them really stuck with me. It was a nice easy read too, I finished the book in a few days and it’s fast paced which keeps you interested. It would have been interesting to have a bit more variety in the stories, maybe more first person, some relationships without affairs or breakups and maybe a story from the man’s point of view? On the plus side, it was compelling to get to know all the characters, and revisit some of them such as Maya. If you’re looking for a book but don’t have a lot of time to read, ‘Single, Carefree, Mellow’ is great because it’s the sort of book you don’t have to read from start to finish, or remember all of the previous events. I think this book would appeal to a wide range of readers and I highly recommend it!

  • Entertaining, cheeky... honest.

    by on

    Katherine Heiny's collection of short stories in 'Single, Carefree, Mellow' offer an insight into the rather turbulent - yet exciting and mischievous - lives of ordinary women.

    Overall the stories are thrilling and intriguing. They're also quite quick to get through, which is great if you're looking for something fun to read on the train or with a nice cup of tea.

    It must be said that infidelity is explored throughout the stories, which I often found to be a little disconcerting. This is just because adultery is not a subject that I value, find interesting or can really connect to. However infidelity is also very real and therefore should be explored. I think Heiny has done a good job writing about it without completely alienating the reader.

    My favourite short story in the collection is, "Single, Carefree, Mellow" (which is also the book's title). It draws parallels between a woman's dwindling romance and her companionship with her elderly dog who is dying. It was moving.

    All the stories have hints of humour (my favourite!), the different female protagonists are lively and captivating to read about and I found most of the themes in the stories realistic and engaging.

    I recommend.

  • Single, Carefree, Mellow

    by on

    Single, Carefree, Mellow is a collection of short stories with women narrators. The overriding theme that ties all these stories together is infidelity. Throughout all of the short stores, you gain a glimpse into the women’s stream of consciousness choices and thoughts, as they plot and plan their lives in order to suit their lust for another.

    The affairs themselves vary quite a bit. Some of the characters revel in their hidden relationships, and others struggle when they turn out to be not what they planned. For instance, there is “The Rhett Butlers” – a tale of a teenage schoolgirl flirting with her history teacher, and realizing that the gloss very quickly wears off the tryst with a 40 year old man.

    Keeping stories short and to the point is not easy, and building such rich characters with so few words is truly a work of art. There is only one couple that are revisited – Maya and Rhodes, and their trajectory is certainly worth the retelling. Managing to deal with love and loss, humanity and mortality, their story is charming and touching, especially if you’re an animal lover, or are familiar with teenagers these days. An exquisite balance between humor and sadness provides the reader an opportunity to follow Maya on the path to marriage and motherhood.

    Another story that is sure to impress is “Blue Heron Bridge” – another dissatisfied housewife critiques her next door neighbor (and what a name – Bunny Pringle!) – only to find that they have more in common than she realized, and in criticizing Bunny, she’s reflecting upon the errors in her own ways. The Reverend that comes to stay with her family interjects a much needed innocence into the story, and provides a naivety that is sweet and uncomplicated, giving the story a bit of charm.

    I did end up finishing this book with a conclusion that the overall theme is men and power – the women are but merely pawns in the men’s affairs, and can be dumped, picked up and used at the whims of the men in the story. As this message comes across to me quite strongly in some passages, (Blue Herron Bridge and Dark Matter) I’m quite in awe of the strength of the message when the male characters only have a voice through the female retelling.

    This does not by any means decrease the women’s characters, but provides an interesting insight into the author’s perception into gender roles.