Virgin and Other Stories

Virgin and Other Stories A confident and mesmerizing fiction debut from the winner of the Plimpton PrizeSet in the American South at the crossroads of a world that is both secular and devoutly Christian April Ayers Lawson

  • Title: Virgin and Other Stories
  • Author: April Ayers Lawson
  • ISBN: 9780865478695
  • Page: 238
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A confident and mesmerizing fiction debut, from the winner of the Plimpton PrizeSet in the American South, at the crossroads of a world that is both secular and devoutly Christian, April Ayers Lawson s stories mine the inner lives of young women and men navigating sexual, emotional, and spiritual awakenings In the title story, Jake grapples with the growing chasm betweenA confident and mesmerizing fiction debut, from the winner of the Plimpton PrizeSet in the American South, at the crossroads of a world that is both secular and devoutly Christian, April Ayers Lawson s stories mine the inner lives of young women and men navigating sexual, emotional, and spiritual awakenings In the title story, Jake grapples with the growing chasm between him and his wife, Sheila, who was a virgin when they wed In Three Friends in a Hammock the tension and attraction is palpable between three sexy, insecure young women as they tug and toe the rope of their shared sack The Way You Must Play Always invites us into the mind of Gretchen, young looking even for thirteen, as she attends her weekly piano lesson, anxiously anticipating her illicit meeting with Wesley, her instructor s adult brother who is recovering from a brain tumor Conner, the cynical sixteen year old narrator of The Negative Effects of Homeschooling, escorts his mink wearing mother to the funeral of her best friend, Charlene, a woman who was once a man And in Vulnerability we accompany a young married painter to New York City, lured there by an art dealer and one of his artists Both are self involved and have questionable intentions, but nevertheless she is enticed.Nodding to the Southern Gothic but channeling an energy all its own, Virgin and Other Stories is a mesmerizing debut from an uncannily gifted young writer With self assurance and sensuality, April Ayers Lawson unravels the intertwining imperatives of intimacy sex and love, violation and trust, spirituality and desire eyeing, unblinkingly, what happens when we succumb to temptation.

    One thought on “Virgin and Other Stories”

    1. Strong debut short story collection with a dark tone and dark sense of humor. Author April Ayers Lawson, currently a visiting writer at University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, grew up in the South with an evangelical background. She grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. It’s easy to imagine that everyone in the South drives around in a pick-up truck with confederate flag and gun rack attending weekly church service. In this story collection she creates a complex image of the South and it [...]

    2. It’s difficult to write about desire in a way which feels wholly new, but that’s something author April Ayers Lawson does repeatedly in her debut book. There’s a persistent sense in these five short stories that young people have access to a multitude of sexual imagery and opportunities. They are either totally sheltered from sex or there is a presumption that they know how to emotionally deal with the more mature aspects of sexuality. Yet their innocence and naivety leave them unprepared [...]

    3. Can I even rate something 1.5 stars? Well, I am.This wasn't exactly awful, I mean I sort of liked some of the stories, but the endings to all 4 of them felt like they just had no meaning or didn't really make sense to the rest of the story. It didn't make me think hard about anything and none were really all that profound. Maybe short stories just aren't what they used to be?

    4. Pretty good collection. The stories grabbed me or they didn't. I particularly enjoyed The Negative Effects of Homeschooling and The Way You Must Play Always. The others didn't resonate with me so much.

    5. My attention span this time of year doesn't always hold for a complex novel, so short stories are a welcome option. Even better, these were quality stories. The author has a crisp, no-nonsense style and several stories in this collection twisted and turned in a way that kept me engaged, entertained and wondering what would come next. I like that very much. If you're looking for a quick, well-written collection, consider this.

    6. A delightful collection of short stories by a rookie author. They focus on the love and sex lives of different young people not in a prurient way but as a way of illuminating their full lives. "Virgin" is told from the point of view of a young, mainstream man, Jake, who falls in love with a beautiful woman, Sheila who was raised in a fundamentalist family. She tells him on their first date that she is keeping her virginity until she gets married. While often frustrated during the courtship and e [...]

    7. DNFLeft it dangling for over a week, completely forgetting that I'd started it. Maybe I'll go back to it later.

    8. Stories about sexual awakenings with an underpinning of spirituality are somewhat rare and oftentimes elusive in the message that is being conveyed. April Ayers Lawson title, The Virgin and other stories is no exception. In each of the five short stories the protagonists are at a crossroads in understanding intimacy, vulnerability (the title of one of the stories) and peace in the midst of past traumas, identity and a curious daring. While several of the stories are unsettling, the beauty of the [...]

    9. Things I really like about Virgin:- The way it nails fundamentalist Christianity, but from the inside out, so that you see all the seams and the inconsistencies. A lot of writers who skewer this kind of religious atmosphere in their work seem to be setting out to do just that—skewer it—and Lawson’s take is so much more complex. Many of her narrators are raised in fundamentalism, but aren’t necessarily of it, so that you get kids like Conner in “The Negative Effects of Homeschooling” [...]

    10. [3.5/5] I've noticed a couple of reviews of Lawson's collection accuse her writing of being too stylized or somehow too dense, which, I mean, seems fairly off base. If anything, my sole criticism of Lawson's prose is that it adheres a little too much to a kind of sturdy literary realism. It feels solid and consistent in tone and in its construction sentence to sentence, even keeled even when the characters are struggling. The stories are almost too neatly constructed, and at times there's someth [...]

    11. It has been a long time since I've read a debut short story collection that engages so deeply with the psychological struggles of each protagonist. Not only is the writing superb but Lawson performs a narrative balancing act, asking her readers to at times simultaneously empathize and turn our shoulders in judgement on the narrators in each story. And yet I am never the voyeur but an active participant in the suffering of my fellow humans whose struggles are portrayed within Virgin and other sto [...]

    12. Authentic, hard-won, and cracking. One of the best story collections in years and my favorite recent debut. Only caveat: would most appeal to those with above-average psychological and artistic sensitivity and therefore maybe not for everyone. But then what book is. At times brought to mind JD Salinger, Alice Munro, Flannery O'Conner and Miranda July. Though also very much its own thing. One person I know was as wowwed by it as me and another didn't get it. I have read it more than once.

    13. Review fail! What would I have to say about sexuality and religion in the American south?Modelled after Flannery O' Connor mostly—is doing something I don't understand nor am I interested in. It's not badly written but it is a bit pointlessly overly coy in that MFA way.Maybe read it? Jesus IDK.

    14. Many good things in this one. Themes: the danger of silence, the use/misuse of female bodies, guilt + shame brought upon by societal expectations/perceptions, and present/absent men.The writing is hard to read in some places, stylistically, which gives it 3.5 stars.

    15. I gave up on the last story. It went on and on, wandering about all over the place. I skim read to the end and it didn't seem to get any more interesting.The Way You Must Play Always was excellent. An interesting story of a young girl exploring her sexuality from an honest and brave perspective.Virgin was good but the plot lines didn't really tie up. I related strongly to the wife but her story didn't have much of a resolution.The Negative Effects of Homeschooling was unsettling but good. The au [...]

    16. I was really excited for a book that incorporated religious, Southern culture with sex and sexuality, but I may have had misconstrued expectations of this book. Maybe the writing style just wasn't for me; I found it difficult to follow at times because of ambiguous pronouns and seemingly rambling stream of consciousness. I liked the variety of characters in terms of age, gender, etc. but found any of them hard to relate to, despite having been raised religious and Southern. It was a quick read, [...]

    17. Engrossing. The title story ended a little flat. It had one of those endings where I thought I knew what happened, but it was left to intertapation. (I hate that, just come out and TELL us what happened, it's more satisfying!) The Way You Must Play Always was my favorite story. I wanted it to go on and on and be a 500 page novel. All of the stories were clever, weird (in a good way) and unique.

    18. I found the first and last stories (Virgin, Vulnerability) pretty intriguing, but overall felt that the stories had no true depth or ended with any sort of meaning. The writing style was at times captivating, so I can see why people applaud her work, but at other times, the writing direction was unclear, so I found myself skipping aheadI wrestled between 2 and 3 stars, but settled on 2 since I really only liked 2 out of the 5 stories.

    19. A few stories and a short novella about relationships, many of them unconventional and unfaithful, interestingly written, carefully observed, somewhat off-beat, but none felt particularly spectacular.

    20. The first three were great, the endings left you with all the necessary information to continue the story in your mind or be satisfied with all loose ends being tied up. The last one didn't do it for me personally, very wordy and I couldn't relate with the main character.

    21. Quite promising even though there aren't that many stories in this hard copy volume (I question the production of this anthology in hard copy as I thought paperback made more sense for fiction since they are quick easy reads.) you can really feel the USA's south in this one.

    22. The long last story "Vulnerability" was a struggle, as it dragged and then incorporated some alternative narrative style that only seemed to make it harder to read when I was already skipping along to get through it. Tough end for an otherwise decent collection of short stories.

    23. Not a writing style that I enjoyed, and the stories didn't interest me (and in some ways they made me cringe, particularly the last two).

    24. I would've given this four stars had it not been for the last story: Vulnerability. It was good, but it wasn't as captivating as the other stories and it just dragged on too long. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and would probably pick it up again.

    25. While I wouldn't necessarily say I enjoyed the book, it did make me think, and the stories have stuck with me. For anyone considering the book, I'd recommend being prepared, as there is talk of sexual assault / abuse, rape, and transphobia / transmisogyny in the stories.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *