Barbara the Slut and Other People

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4

“Holmes trains a precise lens on the millennial generation’s mixed bag of manners, mores, and machinations… In [these] beautifully brazen stories, worlds collide in fresh, imaginative ways.” —Elle 

A fresh, honest, and darkly funny debut collection about family, friends, and lovers, and the flaws that make us most human.

Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Holmes 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 our most vulnerable, spirited selves.
 
In “Desert Hearts,” a 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. In “Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love,” a woman realizes she much prefers the company of her pit bull—and herself—to the neurotic foreign fling who won’t decamp from her apartment. In “How Am I Supposed to Talk to You?” 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 in “Barbara the Slut,” 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.
 
With heart, sass, and pitch-perfect characters, Barbara the Slut is a head-turning debut from a writer with a limitless career before her.
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About the author

Lauren Holmes grew up in upstate New York. She received a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA from Hunter College, where she was a Hertog Fellow and a teaching fellow. Her work has appeared in Granta, where she was a 2014 New Voice, and in Guernica. Holmes lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
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4.0
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Aug 4, 2015
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780698189928
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Family Life / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

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With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating U.S. sovereign debt default on four generations of a once-prosperous American family. Down-to-earth and perfectly realistic in scale, this is not an over-the-top Blade Runner tale. It is not science fiction.

In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also—as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction—the challenge of sheer survival.

Recently affluent, Avery is petulant that she can’t buy olive oil, while her sister, Florence, absorbs strays into her cramped household. An expat author, their aunt, Nollie, returns from abroad at seventy-three to a country that’s unrecognizable. Her brother, Carter, fumes at caring for their demented stepmother, now that an assisted living facility isn’t affordable. Only Florence’s oddball teenage son, Willing, an economics autodidact, will save this formerly august American family from the streets.

The Mandibles is about money. Thus it is necessarily about bitterness, rivalry, and selfishness—but also about surreal generosity, sacrifice, and transformative adaptation to changing circumstances.

The National Book Award–winning story collection from the author of The Orphan Master’s Son offers something rare in fiction: a new way of looking at the world.

“MASTERFUL.”—The Washington Post     “ENTRANCING.”—O: The Oprah Magazine     “PERCEPTIVE AND BRAVE.”—The New York Times

Throughout these six stories, Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal, giving voice to the perspectives we don’t often hear.

In “Nirvana,” a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finds solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In “Hurricanes Anonymous,” a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind.

WINNER OF THE STORY PRIZE • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK 

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Miami Herald • San Francisco Chronicle • USA Today 

AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post  • NPR • Marie Claire • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • BuzzFeed • The Daily Beast • Los Angeles Magazine • The Independent • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews

“Remarkable . . . Adam Johnson is one of America’s greatest living writers.”—The Huffington Post

“Haunting, harrowing . . . Johnson’s writing is as rich in compassion as it is in invention, and that rare combination makes Fortune Smiles worth treasuring.”—USA Today

“Fortune Smiles [blends] exotic scenarios, morally compromised characters, high-wire action, rigorously limber prose, dense thickets of emotion, and, most critically, our current techno-moment.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Johnson’s boundary-pushing stories make for exhilarating reading.”—San Francisco Chronicle
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