Publisher: Fourth Estate
Release Date: 13th August 2015
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy
A fresh, honest, darkly funny debut collection about family, friends, and lovers, and the flaws that make us most human.
One woman takes a job selling sex toys in San Francisco rather than embark on the law career she pursued only for the sake of her father. Another realises she much prefers the company of her pitbull – and herself – to the neurotic foreign fling who won't decamp from her apartment. A daughter hauls a suitcase of lingerie to Mexico for her flighty, estranged mother to resell there, wondering whether her personal mission – to come out – is worth the same effort. And Barbara, a young woman with an autistic brother, a Princeton acceptance letter, and a love of sex navigates her high school’s toxic, slut-shaming culture with open eyes.
Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Homes is a newcomer who writes like a master. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing out most, vulnerable, spirited selves. With heart, sass and pitch-perfect characters, Barbara the Slut is a head-turning debut from a writer with a limitless career before her.
I've recently become really intrigued by short story collections so when I spotted Barbara the Slut and Other People on NetGalley, I snapped it up. And I really enjoyed it!
The ten stories in this collection aren’t really stories; they’re what the title implies – snapshots of people and their lives. None of them have a particularly strong plot or a distinct beginning or ending which makes them kinda hard to review really! The collection covers people of all ages, different lifestyles, situations and personalities, and even the POV of a dog… Every voice was distinct and unique and they sat apart so strongly that I had to have a little Twitter break between each story to be able to move on.
With the exception of the final story, the titular Barbara the Slut, I enjoy the stories in the first half of the collection a lot more than the second half. I loved the brutually honest way they approached sex, love, loneliness, the fallout of living by someone else’s wants for you and not having a distinct path in life. They were bold and refreshing, even if I never fully connected to the characters. The second half was a lot more experimental in narrative and I felt a lot more disconnected from the stories. It felt like Lauren Holmes was trying to experiment and push the boundaries, losing the organic feel of the earlier stories.
Barbara the Slut and Other People is a fascinating collection and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on Lauren Holmes in the future, she has a lot of promise.
Thanks to Fourth Estate and NetGalley for the review copy.