Summary and book reviews of Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes

Barbara the Slut and Other People

by Lauren Holmes

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2016, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

A fresh, honest, and darkly funny debut collection about family, friends, and lovers, and the flaws that make us most human.

Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Holmes is a newcomer who writes like a master. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing our most vulnerable, spirited selves.
 
In "Desert Hearts," a woman takes a job selling sex toys in San Francisco rather than embark on the law career she pursued only for the sake of her father. In "Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love," a woman realizes she much prefers the company of her pit bull—and herself—to the neurotic foreign fling who won't decamp from her apartment. In "How Am I Supposed to Talk to You?" a daughter hauls a suitcase of lingerie to Mexico for her flighty, estranged mother to resell there, wondering whether her personal mission—to come out—is worth the same effort. And in "Barbara the Slut," a young woman with an autistic brother, a Princeton acceptance letter, and a love of sex navigates her high school's toxic, slut-shaming culture with open eyes.
 
With heart, sass, and pitch-perfect characters, Barbara the Slut is a head-turning debut from a writer with a limitless career before her.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TALK TO YOU?

In Mexico City the customs light lit up green, which was lucky because I had fifty pairs of underwear with tags on them in my suitcase. They were from Victoria's Secret and they were for my mom to sell to the teenagers in her town for a markup of three hundred percent. She managed a hotel in Pie de la Cuesta, a fishing town six miles west of Acapulco, and she said the kids there wanted this underwear more than marijuana. I thought this sounded like a second grader's plan, but I said I would do it because I hadn't visited her in three years.

In addition to bringing my mom the underwear, I was supposed to use this trip to tell her I was gay, to ask her to start talking to Grandpa again so I didn't have to feel bad about taking his tuition checks, and to generally make up for the ten years I was in California, in middle school and high school and college, and she was in Mexico, in the city and then at the beach.

She was supposed to ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In the main, the characters in Barbara the Slut and Other People are likable, believable people, struggling to find themselves and the key to happiness. It is a testament to Holmes' ability to bring her characters to life that several of the stories left me wanting to know more, but on the negative side, this does mean that sometimes there is a lack of resolution that may disappoint some readers.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

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Media Reviews

"21 New Authors You Need to Know," Refinery 29

First-time author Lauren Holmes has an uncanny way of breathing life into the fictional characters in her debut.

Esquire

Like the best work of Mary Gaitskill, Barbara the Slut turns our obsession with sex on its head in order to study it, dissect it, weaponize it.

Elle

Holmes trains a precise lens on the millennial generation’s mixed bag of manners, mores, and machinations… In [these] beautifully brazen stories, worlds collide in fresh, imaginative ways.

Library Journal

A Granta 2014 New Voice, Holmes explores a range of intriguing scenarios in this first collection… a writer to watch

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. An eminently readable debut from a fresh voice…Holmes writes with ease and humor…wonderful.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A first-rate first collection from a young writer you'll want to hear more from.

Author Blurb Nathan Englander
It's been a long time since I've read a collection of stories in one sitting—but this is a book I couldn't put down... An outstanding debut, refreshing and exciting, complex and really funny.

Author Blurb Colum McCann
A wonderful debut from a profound and sassy new voice ... Lauren Holmes is a young writer of great talent, and Barbara the Slut is a book that marks the beginning of a long literary career.

Author Blurb Phil Klay
Lauren Holmes's stories are hilarious and moving and powerful and all that other stuff people seem to like in books, but that's not why they stay with you.

Author Blurb Philipp Meyer
An astonishing collection—one of those rare books that manages to be both poignant and hilarious. The last time we had a debut this big was Junot Díaz with Drown. Holmes is a major talent.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Animals in Literary Fiction

In an interview with The Globe and Mail in 2009, David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, said: "I thought that 'dog stories' had been juvenilized over the course of the 20th century, and that was wrong."

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle Like Lauren Holmes, whose short story "My Humans" - in the collection Barbara the Slut and Other People - charts the breakdown of a relationship through the eyes of a dog, Wroblewski is an author prepared to put the voice of an animal in an adult story, stepping away from the anthropomorphic stomping ground of many famous children's stories and novels. In The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, a novel that Wroblewski told BookBrowse, "ponders the relationship between people and dogs", Almondine, Edgar Sawtelle's dog, is given ...

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