“Other People We Married” by Emma Straub (is my Girlfriend)Posted: July 26, 2011
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
I am so angry with you Emma Straub right now.
I am angry with you because you have written one of my favorite short story collections of all time, OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED, BUT it is only two hundred and sixteen pages. Emmmmma! I want a LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY-sized collection from you. I want an all-seven-volumes-of-HARRY POTTER-smushed-into-one-book-sized-volume from you, girl! Instead of opening up TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, ECLIPSE, and BREAKING DAWN and having my central cortex pour out my ear canals as I read about vampires who sparkle like Lisa Frank binders, I want to open up those eight hundred page books and have them be eight hundred pages of short stories by YOU. Instead, ever time I open up ECLIPSE it’s just Meyer using adverbs too much.
Two hundred and sixteen pages? Really? You write two hundred and sixteen pages spilling over with sharp-as-a-kitchen-drawer-full-of-knives observations about middle-to-upper-class-modern-American-life that made Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker, and George Eliot form a ghost girl fan club for you and then you’re just like “Cool, I’m done?” You paint evocative scenes set in far-flung locales ranging from American roadside attractions to small, liberal arts colleges to the tourist circuit of Rome to the shitty side of Martha’s Vineyard and you paint this like an fucking FRENCH IMPRESSIONIST MASTER, and they you’re like… fini? You take words, string them together, and make those words into flesh and blood people like you are the Dr. Frankenstein of prose, BUT you only do your Science Fiction Magic Tricks for, I will say it again, but this time really slowly so you get the full effect…. two…hundred….and…sixteen…pages?
I don’t even know why I’m giving you the sixteen, that last page is like half a paragraph, you’re down to two-fifteen pal-friend. And I just realized the first story starts on page nine, so really, it’s like… wait… I can still do math… even though it’s been a long time since the second grade… I don’t need my phone calculator… I can do this… two hundred and six pages.
Really? Really? Reallllllllllly?
I know I should just be grateful for the twelve spectacular short stories that make up your debut. But I am not a grateful person! I am grouchy and impatient and other negative adjectives. I also know you have a novel coming out next year with Riverhead and I am more excited about this that I am for new Ben and Jerry’s and Coldstone’s flavors combined. That is extremely excited. But a year is a long time to wait! I don’t even have to wait that long for Christmas! Or Halloween!
All this is to say that I love your stories to little heart-shaped-pieces, I can’t wait for more of your fiction, long, short, or in-between-medium, and if I had my druthers, every issue of the NEW YORKER would have a short story courtesy of your awesome-sauce pen. All right, okay Alice Munro can get a couple thousand words in every once in a while too.
But I’m still so angry with you! And I won’t stop being angry until your next book of short stories comes out and it is of equal length to any of the following: GONE WITH THE WIND, CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR, or THE MISTS OF AVALON.
Your Friend Who is Still Your Friend Even Though I Haven’t Stopped Being Mad,
Books are my Boyfriends.
(P.S. Blog Readers, I am addressing you directly now. I am not Kathy Bates in MISERY. This is just a blog that is being fun. I am not going to lock Emma Straub up in a snowy cabin and chop her foot off. I’m just going to buy her next book when it comes out and hope said book is three thousand and five hundred pages. I am not a character in a Stephen King novel. Everything is just for fun. Stop having your scared face on. Have your fun face on! End of P.S.)
WHAT KIND OF GIRLFRIEND SHE IS: Enough of the review-disguised-as-an-open-letter-shenanigans, onto the anthropomorphising shenanigans. OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED is such a great girlfriend. She went to a great liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, she juggles all sorts of Zooey-Deschanel-Would-Play-This-Character-in-an-Indie-Romcom jobs like graphic designing posters for semi-famous bands and penning children’s books and also maybe working as a waitress in a cafe that only sells scones. She wears vintage dresses that fit her perfectly and don’t smell like thrift stores and you are like “How did you do that? My vintage dresses always look like they were made for a fairy tale giantess no matter how much I belt them and when I wear them people always make mean comments about how I smell like a thrift store and then I have to quickly find a bathroom to cry in.”
Also, girl makes the most INCISIVE observations about humanity. But sometimes loudly. So sometimes I have to shush her if we’re in public. See: Our date.
MY DATE WITH “OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED”:
We are eating french fries, I dipped one in ketchup for OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED to eat, we are having such a fun date!
OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED makes an acid-tongued, deadly accurate comments about our waitress who has obviously been attending city college for the past nine years, the annoying high school girls sitting next to us that are all pretending to not be virgins when they all very obviously are, and the cranky old couple waiting for a table who are playing a game where they try to make glaring eye contact with every single person in the joint.
“OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED! You have to keep your incisive comments for your short stories! People get mad when they hear you making incisive comments about them!”
Here OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED goes again with the incisive comments about the middle aged couple who obviously don’t love each other because they’re using “I don’t love you anymore” body language according to that quack doctor who always picks apart celebrity body language in US WEEKLY.
Aaaah! The Middle Aged Couple Who Doesn’t Love One Another Anymore HEARD YOU, quick, to the next leg of our date!
OH NO, there are basically no people in the movie theater to pick apart, so she makes incisive comments about me and how I shouldn’t complain about being fat and then drink large sodas at movies or complain about people calling me a hipster and then wear scarves in July. (In Ricky Ricardo Voice) Other People We Marrrrrrried!