A “gripping, beautiful, emotionally raw” collection of stories about the things that go wrong between men and women from a PEN Award winner.
Arriving in the midst of the #MeToo era, these stories examine the fallout from failed relationships between men and women—partnerships that have crumbled under the weight of betrayal, misplaced hopes, illness, and particularly masculinity at its most toxic and misguided.
A man in his mid-thirties receives a call from a woman he barely knows, who informs him that a girl he bedded and dumped in high school has died of cancer. A man who had an affair and left the woman without any warning finds himself working on a demolition job with a younger man who might be their son. Yet another man, obese for years, is left by his wife, loses weight, and drunk with the power of finally being fit, tries to reconnect with his former spouse—to disastrous ends. And in the title story, a woman summoned to the bedside of her son, who has suffered a gunshot wound, must finally come to terms with the serial infidelities of her charming ex-husband.
These fictions ask very contemporary questions: How do ex-spouses learn to live again in proximity to one another? How do we make peace with our bodies and their own worst impulses? How do we learn to turn and face, head-on, the worst mistakes of our younger selves?
“One of our best American short story writers, on par with Tobias Wolff and Andre Dubus.” —Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will
“The stories in You Would Have Told Me Not To read like miniature thrillers . . . expertly suspenseful, emotionally powerful, and delightfully dark. The last one, in particular, punched me in the heart.” —Kristin Roupenian, author of You Know You Want This: “Cat Person" and Other Stories