The Pitch: The title is an accurate description: each story in the collection is narrated by a woman with a different job. This ranges from “Zookeeper” to “Porn Star” to occupations that aren’t necessarily money-making, like “Alcoholic” or “Cat Owner.”
First Line: “I am boiling inside a kettle with five other people.”
The Twist: Despite being tuned into contemporary voices, Nutting isn’t trying to pull off some faux Studs Turkel volume about woman’s work. Each story is twisted by some unreal condition: the porn star works in space, gnomes and fake deer become animated, and a woman is served as dinner.
“She-man”: “My boyfriend Ginno is a pro-bowler. It is not a glamorous as it doesn’t sound. I was on the streets for a long time so I took the first chance I got to settle down. Ginno doesn’t know I’m really a man, but other than that we’re completely honest with one another.”
Openings: The clarity and economy of Nutting’s prose is never more evident than in her opening paragraphs. The world of each story in this collection is neatly packed and explained in just a few sentences. No matter how surreal the situation is, we always know exactly what is going on.
“Teenager”: “I am sixteen years old and I cannot have Luke Gunter’s baby. I have seen my older cousin’s deflated football breasts. They have weird marks and lines that make them seem like optical illusions, like how pencils placed into glasses of water appear broken.”
First person: The consistently clear, first-person voice is almost always an asset to her stories, but, after reading eighteen of them in a row, the narrators start to sound a little too similar.
Background: Nutting is the fiction editor of Witness and the managing editor of the Fairy Tale Review. The manuscript for this book won the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction.
Hype quote: “Nutting’s outrageous and excruciating writing makes my face split open with laughter, often in public. She’s glorious chaos and utterly original — read her with joy,” Lydia Millet, author of Love in Infant Monkeys
Real Talk: This collection is full of sick imagination, hairy phrases, and risky premises, but Nutting tempers all of her impulses with her most subtle quality — finding the real in the surreal.
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