Shout Her Lovely Name (2012)
by Natalie Serber
Paperback ARC (Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!), Read for a TLC Book Tour
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
buy a copy from Amazon.
Natalie Serber received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Her work has appeared in The Bellingham Review and Gulf Coast, among others, and her awards include the Tobias Wolff Award. She teaches writing at various universities and lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband’s fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life—stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs—in 1970s California.
Gimlet-eyed and emotionally generous, achingly real and beautifully written, these unforgettable stories lay bare the connection and conflict in families. Shout Her Lovely Name heralds the arrival of a powerful new writer.
–synopsis from Amazon.
Natalie Serber took me by surprise and sent me on a heartfelt journey of family ties in her debut short story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name. Serber’s prose reads like beautiful poetry, inviting the reader to fill in the story with its clues. Through these eleven character-driven, poignant short stories about mothers and their children, Serber displays versatility, humor, and tears. I am fully enamored with her writing, and pleasantly surprised that this is only her debut.
Serber experiments with writing structure in her first story about a mother struggling to help her daughter fight an eating disorder while her husband is in denial; it is written almost like an instructional manual combined with a monthly journal. I could imagine a mother documenting her exhausting journey with her anorexic daughter, whom she wants to hold on to. It is one of the brightest highlights, and one that I plan to reread.