Easy for You

Shannan Rouss, Author
Shannan Rouss, Author . Simon & Schuster $12 (154p) ISBN 978-1-4391-4835-8
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4391-5260-7
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This debut collection of L.A. stories concentrates its efforts, overwhelmingly, on the mostly failing love lives of its mostly female first-person protagonists. At its best, the stories are bittersweet, but Rouss often veers into cliché and melodrama. “Die Meant Enough” is an unflinching description of life as the new girlfriend of a divorcing man, and is threaded with humor and messiness reminiscent of Lorrie Moore. “Swans by the Hour” delivers a heartfelt narrative about a man who hosts his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. Despite some phoned-in bits (the awkward toast; a tedious description of the narrator’s fabulous home), it beautifully illustrates regret and desperation. But Rouss’s well-crafted prose cannot save her from the cartoonishness of many of her story’s characters. “Beverly Hills Adjacent” features a stock grumpy old man, a hapless, repressed racist whose new neighbors are savvy, very kind Iranian-Americans. Frequently, there are pregnancies (“Dog People,” “Last Ice Age,” “Easy for You”) and the ambivalence the protagonists feel about them, as well as marriages and the ambivalence the characters feel about them. The prose can be quite good, but Rouss’s thin, one-note L.A. gets tiresome. (Mar.)

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