‘You Think It, I’ll Say It’ by Curtis Sittenfeld – In Praise of Subtlety

 

‘You Think It, I’ll Say It’ by Curtis Sittenfeld (2018) – 223 pages

This collection of ten stories is my first Curtis Sittenfeld fiction. For a long time I thought Curtis Sittenfeld was a guy because back in the olden days ‘Curtis’ was a guy’s name.

Anyhow these stories won me over with their immediacy and their rueful insight. One of many things that Sittenfeld is good at as a writer is showing precisely how we evolve from first impressions of others to something closer to the truth. Our first impression of someone might be mean or nasty or it might be overly positive, but more evidence can cause us to revise our opinion. Nearly every one of these stories depicts our narrators having to make this kind of adjustment in their thinking. Ultimately these changes in our perceptions of others are what shape our own character. Thus these stories are profound without hitting us over our heads with their profundity.

These stories are not dramatic or tragic. They are not about momentous events. They are about the subtle changes in our attitudes and opinions of others as we go through each day. We all misread or make mistakes as we begin to size up another person or situation. New data or developments require us to alter our course. These stories capture these subtle or not-so-subtle revisions that we must necessarily make in regard to others. They are rueful yet light-hearted and pleasant to read. Although these are modern stories in the Here and Now, Curtis Sittenfeld belongs in the same category as classic writers like Jane Austen and Elizabeth Taylor who could make everyday interactions between people interesting and meaningful.

All of these stories take place in recent times but they may reflect on situations that have occurred in the past.

The collection title comes from the second story ‘The World Has Many Butterflies’. ‘You Think It, I’ll Say It’ is a party game for two where Julie says what Graham might be thinking about someone else at the party. It’s a catty game, but Julie misinterprets the signs to believe that she and Graham are on the same wavelength. Later when Graham breaks up with his wife, Julie finds out how wrong she was.

Curtis Sittenfeld has a clever offhand way of cutting to the chase and getting us readers inside these characters and situations quickly. It is very easy to like these stories.

 

Grade: A

 

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7 responses to this post.

  1. This book sounds wonderful. So often my own first impressions of people have been wrong both in the negative and positive. It’s interesting someone has written about it. I will look for it. Good review.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. I would have assumed that Curtis was a man too. We are going to have to get used to gender-neutral names!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Ooops – I also thought this was a guy….. Ahem.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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