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An Esquire Best Book of Summer • A collection of glittering, surprising, darkly funny stories of people testing the boundaries of their lives—from the award-winning author of Dual Citizens, who is "spoken of in the same reverent breath as Lorrie Moore and Joy Williams" (Heidi Julavits, author of The Folded Clock).
In the mordantly funny "Money, Geography, Youth," Vanessa arrives home from a gap year volunteering in Ghana to find that her father is engaged to her childhood best friend. Unable to reconcile the girl she went to dances with in the eighth grade and the woman in her father's bed, Vanessa turns to a different old friendship for her own, unique diversion.
In the subversive "The Brooks Brothers Guru," Amanda drives to upstate New York to rescue her gawky cousin from a cult, only to discover clean-cut, well-dressed men living in a beautiful home, discussing the classics, and drinking sophisticated cocktails, moving her to wonder what freedoms she might willingly trade away for a life of such elegant comfort.
And in "The Universal Particular," Tamar welcomes her husband's young stepcousin into their home, imagining they are saving this young woman from Somalia by way of Stockholm, only to find their cool suburban life of potlucks and air-conditioning knocked askew in ways they cannot quite understand.
Populated with imperfect families, burned potential, and inescapable old flames, the thirteen stories in We Want What We Want are, each one, diamond-sharp—sparkling with pain, humor, and beauty.
About the Author
Alix Ohlin is the author of six books, including the novel Dual Citizens, which was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, and many other places. She lives in Vancouver, where she is the Director of the UBC School of Creative Writing.
FINALIST FOR THE ATWOOD GIBSON WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE
"The collection explore[s] desire and grief through a finely drawn and eclectic cast of characters... Moving... Ohlin’s sly irony leavens the aching plights of characters for whom closure is unattainable... True-to-life."
—Rachel Yoder, The New York Times Book Review
"Glittering... Shot through with dark humor and keen powers of observation, this collection probes our contradictions with incisive clarity."
"Ohlin’s slyly humorous and devastatingly sensuous collection of short fiction shines a brilliant light on women’s inchoate desires."
"That’s the magic, though: the seeming simplicity of the prose, the plain-spoken quality underpinning these stories, conceals a staggering level of craft, of command and expertise. Most readers will never notice it, slipping effortlessly into the story, transfixed as Ohlin pulls a rabbit from a hat.”
—The Toronto Star
“There’s no shortage of phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to savour on every page … The elegant stories are delectable, electric, and clever … An exceptional, satisfying reading experience.”
“Every story in this exquisite collection is a gem full of startling surprises and insights into human nature. The collection demands and rewards repeated readings, the better to savour Ohlin’s near magical ability to achieve such depth with seemingly plain language and plotting. Ohlin packs entire lives into mere pages, allowing readers to join the flow of fully realized, complex scenarios whose key moments exude the inevitable open-endedness of real life. These stories bring us into the company of people who want what we all want: to connect, to matter, to heal, and to cross into unfamiliar territory, hoping that the risk will be worthwhile.”
—Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury Citation
"Ohlin’s collection revolves around the fleeting, fraught connections her characters make with other people. Our lives are threaded and tangled, Ohlin suggests, with other narratives, with people who flit in and out of our plotline as they furiously act out their own... The collection.. turns turns its attention to the great sweep of human life, how our years are filled with unexpected success or failure, how people reveal or hide themselves.... The great trick of Ohlin’s collection [is] to tame all the wildness of life into something we can briefly hold."
—Rebecca Saltzman, Women's Review of Books
"Another rich collection full of insights and sticky contradictions... Ohlin reveals the depth of her characters with empathy and precision... More than worth the price of admission."
"[A] very fine collection... Ohlin’s stories have a quiet elegance to them and a restraint, although they’re filled, too, with grief and with loss... The book is a pleasure to behold... A wry and moving collection that supplies no easy, unearned endings."
“Calling all fans of Lorrie Moore, Deborah Eisenberg, and Robin Black: You have a new favorite writer.”
“[Ohlin] has a rare gift for examining the confusions of the 21st century, exploring the ways in which addictions, afflictions, attractions, and random impulses shape our lives.”
–The Boston Globe
"Alix Ohlin is a sensitive writer, alert to the look and feel of things, and to the comedies and contradictions of her characters’ obsessions."
–The New York Times Book Review
"With language intensely evocative and keenly focused on the nuances that define each of us as individuals, Ohlin delves into the lives of her characters–even in her shortest pieces–and reveals a depth to them, a poignancy, that is deeply affecting."
—The Baltimore Sun
“This cunning writer yanks you inside her world.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle
“Ohlin’s characters are so genuine you’ll be reminded of people you know, love and hate. For better or worse, you may even see yourself in the pages.”