"Never acknowledge the fact that you're a girl, and take pride when your guy friends say, 'You're one of the guys.' Tell yourself, 'I am one of the guys,' even though, in the back of your mind, a little voice says, 'But you've got girl parts.'" A girl whose self-worth revolves around masculinity, a bartender who loses her sense of safety, a woman who compares men to plants, and a boy who shoots his cranked-out father. These are a few of the hard-scrabble characters in Tamara Linse's debut short story collection, How to Be a Man. Set in contemporary Wyoming - the myth of the West taking its toll - these stories reveal the lives of tough-minded girls and boys, self-reliant women and men, struggling to break out of their lonely lives and the emotional havoc of their families to make a connection, to build a life despite the odds. How to Be a Man falls within the tradition of Maile Meloy, Tom McGuane, and Annie Proulx.
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A Solid Set of Short Stories
Disclosure: I won a copy of this audiobook from my friend, who also happens to be the narrator. I do, though, believe in a fair review, and I hope that is what you find below.
Content, kinda: As someone who usually listens to novels, I started getting frustrated at the brevity of the stories because they would end so quickly, and I was in it for the long haul. This tells me that 1) the plots of the stories drew me into caring about each story, 2) the character development wasn't at a blistering pace even though they were short stories, and 3) the writing style/phrasing worked well for me. Towards the end of the audiobook, I got used to the short story format, but it took a few stories.
I listened to this on the drive to/from Las Vegas. After I got home, I realized that this it the perfect commuter book. Listen on a commute and the need/want for a cohesive novel is gone, and you can better appreciate each story for itself. In retrospect, I wish I would had done that.
Narration: While I know the narrator, this is my first time listening to her on audio. At first, I thought her voice was going to lull me to sleep a bit on the drive to Vegas in the middle of the night, but it changed after a few minutes. The softness of the voice didn't affect me like I thought it would but instead kept my attention because her mannerisms would slightly change as the characters developed. I got more wrapped up in the characters in the longer stories, which makes sense given my prior comments. This little change over the course of each story is what drew me into each story; the characters never felt stale.
Overall, this is a very strong 4-Star audiobook and is perfect for commuters because of the short story format. Interesting topics, well written, well narrated.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found my review fair.