I first saw I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro in a Book Riot post a little while back, and then just happened to see it at my library so I went for it. Perfect for the “anthology” genre of my Eclectic Reader Challenge! From Goodreads:
Sharp-edged and fearless, mixing white-hot yearning with daring humor, Jamie Quatro’s debut collection is a beautiful and disquieting portrait of infidelity, faith, and family.
The hypnotically intimate, urgent stories in I Want to Show You More are about lives stretched between spirituality and sexuality in the New American South. In narrative modes ranging from the traditional to the fabulist, these stories are interconnected explorations of God, illicit sex, raising children—and running. Jamie Quatro’s stories confront us with dark theological complexities, fractured marriages, and mercurial temptations.
I’m not sure it lived up to the hype I read around it, but it was a short-story collection I enjoyed a bit more than others in the past. Quatro’s stories are connected by some overlapping characters, as well as the themes mentioned in the Goodreads blurb. There were a couple of stories that stood out to me, specifically one involving a weird dystopian marathon runner experience, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement” (reminded me of stuff I just read in The Tenth of December). “Here,” towards the beginning, was heart wrenching—about a man and his children after the death of wife/mother—but lost impact for me further into the collection when we encounter the same family a few more times. It would have worked more for me as one longer story rather than spread out as six or so shorter ones, perhaps? I couldn’t quite figure out if “Decomposition: A Primer for Promiscuous Housewives,” where husband and wife harbor her lover’s corpse in their bed, was supposed to be literal or metaphorical, but it was intriguing. Other highlights for me were “1.7 to Tennessee,” “Better to Lose an Eye,” and “Demolition.” And while I did like the one unusual story about running, I’m not a runner so the other stories involving running were lost on me. I wanted the adultery stories to be juicier than it ultimately was—Quatro sets up them up pretty well, but they don’t quite… climax… so to speak.
I Want to Show You More is my anthology for the 2014 Eclectic Reader Challenge, and marks 2 of 12 completed on the list.
Read from January 31 to February 1, 2014.