Which Brings Me to You

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9780099476535: Which Brings Me to You

John and Jane's time in a cloakroom clearly isn't the beginning of anything real, even they know that. When they manage to pull back, literally, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over, properly. This is a novel providing insights into the ways of mating and dating in a post-feminist time.

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About the Author:

Steve Almond is the author of the acclaimed story collection My Life in Heavy Metal. Julianna Baggott is the author of three novels, including the acclaimed bestseller Girl Talk.

From The Washington Post:

This book is full of superb writing, and that is precisely its problem. Billed as a "novel in confessions," Which Brings Me to You consists of a series of letters exchanged by two young lovers-in-the-making. Jane is a feminist studies professor, and John is a media guy turned struggling artist. Both are a few years beyond their roaring twenties and seeking some of the adult stability they are trying hard to imagine.

They meet at a wedding, proceed directly to the coat closet and nearly consummate their acquaintance. But John demurs at the last moment, blubbering about how he may really like Jane and all, and how he doesn't want this one to end like all the others, etc. The couple agrees to exchange letters -- the retro, ink-on-paper-sort -- and get to know each other by confessing all their sad and lousy loves.

While not a particularly believable premise, it's made interesting by the fact that the letters are written by two authors. Julianna Baggott, writing for Jane, is a creative writing teacher at Florida State University; Steve Almond, voicing John, is a writing teacher at Boston College. They both got MFAs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. They are widely published and frequently awarded authors of short stories and novels.

The trouble is Jane's letters sound an awful lot as if they've been written by an award-winning author and writing instructor with an MFA. So, alas, do John's. To say this spoils the fun is to understate.

Take, for instance, Jane's remembrance of high school boys: "I loved them with primal biology; I loved them because of an internal bent, a moist yearning imprinted heavily on my genes, perhaps passed down through my mother, stunted (and highly polished, too) by her need for romance."

And here John remembers: "Eve herself, who smelled luxurious from the shower, smoothed down in amaretto lotion, who went off to work in the city and returned with wads of grubby dollar bills and cabernet on her breath, who smoked on the window sill and wore her floppy breasts in scented bras . . . took me up to her rooftop to make love on the hot tar."

Yo, Jane, John: Quit your day jobs and get fellowships at the Iowa Writers' Workshop!

That said, several of these letters make wonderful short stories, ripe with keen observations, vivid ex-lovers and razor diction. They accumulate into a pair of satisfying character studies. But as each letter ends with its "signature," one is inevitably reminded that the authors have made these characters speak in voices that could not be their own, and, finally, the book falls apart.

How did two such accomplished authors blunder into such an obvious trap? Perhaps the book's epistolary conceit encouraged an unproductive sense of competition. In any case, it feels as if Baggott and Almond couldn't resist trying to outwit and outperform each other, at the expense of the work's integrity.

A man and a woman competing rather than cooperating on the playing field of love? Imagine that.

Reviewed by Craig Stoltz / Reviewed by Claudia Deane
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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1.

Julianna Baggott, Steve Almond
Published by Cornerstone, United Kingdom (2007)
ISBN 10: 0099476533 ISBN 13: 9780099476535
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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Two lonely, lived-in, thirty-somethings. One boring wedding. One heated encounter in a quiet cloakroom. It s not exactly the recipe for love. And John and Jane s time in a cloakroom clearly isn t the beginning of anything real; even they know that. When they manage to pull back, literally, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over, properly. They might try getting to know one another first. But they live on opposite sides of the country. So they agree to write. And they do. What follows is a series of traded and shared confessions: of their messy sexual and emotional histories, their first shy, callow relationships, their past errors and their big loves, their flaws and their passions. Each story of a love affair - confessed with striking honesty - reveals the ways in which both Jane and John have grown and grown up, changed and not changed, over the years; the people they hurt, the ones still bruised, the ones that bruised them. Where all of this confession will take them is the burning question behind every letter - one that can only be answered when they meet again, finally, in the flesh.This is a remarkable novel - indeed a tour-de-force - in its extraordinary well-observed insights into the way we live now, of mating and dating in a post-feminist time, of the negotiations between the sexes in the challenging world of equal but different.Written by a man and a woman, it is not only remarkable, it is unique. Bookseller Inventory # AB99780099476535

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Julianna Baggott, Steve Almond
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ISBN 10: 0099476533 ISBN 13: 9780099476535
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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Two lonely, lived-in, thirty-somethings. One boring wedding. One heated encounter in a quiet cloakroom. It s not exactly the recipe for love. And John and Jane s time in a cloakroom clearly isn t the beginning of anything real; even they know that. When they manage to pull back, literally, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over, properly. They might try getting to know one another first. But they live on opposite sides of the country. So they agree to write. And they do. What follows is a series of traded and shared confessions: of their messy sexual and emotional histories, their first shy, callow relationships, their past errors and their big loves, their flaws and their passions. Each story of a love affair - confessed with striking honesty - reveals the ways in which both Jane and John have grown and grown up, changed and not changed, over the years; the people they hurt, the ones still bruised, the ones that bruised them. Where all of this confession will take them is the burning question behind every letter - one that can only be answered when they meet again, finally, in the flesh.This is a remarkable novel - indeed a tour-de-force - in its extraordinary well-observed insights into the way we live now, of mating and dating in a post-feminist time, of the negotiations between the sexes in the challenging world of equal but different. Written by a man and a woman, it is not only remarkable, it is unique. Bookseller Inventory # AB99780099476535

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Baggott, Julianna; Almond, Steve
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Book Description Cornerstone. Book Condition: New. Presents a series of traded and shared confessions of John and Jane; their messy sexual and emotional histories, their first shy, callow relationships, their past errors and big loves, their flaws and their passions. This novel features stories that reveal the ways in which both Jane and John have grown and grown up, and changed and not changed. Num Pages: 320 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 130 x 21. Weight in Grams: 232. . 2007. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099476535

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Baggott, Julianna; Almond, Steve
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Book Description Cornerstone, 2007. Book Condition: New. Presents a series of traded and shared confessions of John and Jane; their messy sexual and emotional histories, their first shy, callow relationships, their past errors and big loves, their flaws and their passions. This novel features stories that reveal the ways in which both Jane and John have grown and grown up, and changed and not changed. Num Pages: 320 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 130 x 21. Weight in Grams: 232. . 2007. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099476535

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Julianna Baggott, Steve Almond
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Book Description Cornerstone. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Which Brings ME to You, Julianna Baggott, Steve Almond, Two lonely, lived-in, thirty-somethings. One boring wedding. One heated encounter in a quiet cloakroom. It's not exactly the recipe for love. And John and Jane's time in a cloakroom clearly isn't the beginning of anything real; even they know that. When they manage to pull back, literally, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over, properly. They might try getting to know one another first. But they live on opposite sides of the country. So they agree to write. And they do. What follows is a series of traded and shared confessions: of their messy sexual and emotional histories, their first shy, callow relationships, their past errors and their big loves, their flaws and their passions. Each story of a love affair - confessed with striking honesty - reveals the ways in which both Jane and John have grown and grown up, changed and not changed, over the years; the people they hurt, the ones still bruised, the ones that bruised them. Where all of this confession will take them is the burning question behind every letter - one that can only be answered when they meet again, finally, in the flesh.This is a remarkable novel - indeed a tour-de-force - in its extraordinary well-observed insights into the way we live now, of mating and dating in a post-feminist time, of the negotiations between the sexes in the challenging world of equal but different. Written by a man and a woman, it is not only remarkable, it is unique. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099476535

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Book Description Arrow Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 304 pages. Dimensions: 7.7in. x 5.0in. x 0.9in.John and Janes time in a cloakroom clearly isnt the beginning of anything real, even they know that. When they manage to pull back, literally, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over, properly. This is a novel providing insights into the ways of mating and dating in a post-feminist time. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780099476535

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Book Description Arrow, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 320 pages. 7.80x5.04x0.79 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __0099476533

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