Which Brings ME to You, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Two lonely, lived-in, thirty-somethings. One boring wedding. One heated encounter in a quiet cloakroom. It's not exactly the recipe for love. And John and Jane's time in a cloakroom clearly isn't the beginning of anything real; even they know that.

When they manage to pull back, literally, it occurs to them that they might start this whole thing over, properly.

They might try getting to know one another first. But they live on opposite sides of the country. So they agree to write. And they do. What follows is a series of traded and shared confessions: of their messy sexual and emotional histories, their first shy, callow relationships, their past errors and their big loves, their flaws and their passions.

Each story of a love affair - confessed with striking honesty - reveals the ways in which both Jane and John have grown and grown up, changed and not changed, over the years; the people they hurt, the ones still bruised, the ones that bruised them.

Where all of this confession will take them is the burning question behind every letter - one that can only be answered when they meet again, finally, in the flesh...This is a remarkable novel - indeed a tour-de-force - in its extraordinary well-observed insights into the way we live now, of mating and dating in a post-feminist time, of the negotiations between the sexes in the challenging world of equal but different. Written by a man and a woman, it is not only remarkable, it is unique.




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Review by

I love epistolary fiction, though this book breaks from the traditional epistolary novel. Each letter reads like a separate short story, as they are recounting the past and not the present. The letters were raunchier than expected in places, and surprisingly beautiful in others (I'm thinking particularly of the Zoe and Sunny story).

Review by

After coming dangerously close to blowing hot coffee out of my nose while reading Steve Almond’s <em>Not That You Asked</em>, I decided to dive a little deeper into his (sure to be twisted) oeuvre. Swimming around, I bumped into this book, a novel of letters co-written by sometime (and, as quickly becomes apparent, sometimes <em>not</em>) children’s book author Julianna Baggott.It’s a conceit that could have ended up too clever by half, but is so well handled that I kicked myself for not thinking of it first. The story begins—like most Hugh Grant movies—at a wedding. I was hooked after the very first line: “I know my own kind. We’re obvious to each other. I suppose this is true of other kinds, too: military brats, for example, anarchists, mattress salesmen, women who got ponies as birthday gifts.”Jane ruminates while spying John standing under a white crepe paper wedding bell “My own kind. I’m not sure there’s a name for us. I suspect we’re born this way: our hearts screwing in tight, already a little broken. We hate sentimentality and yet we’re deeply sentimental.” Sound like anyone you know?The two are drawn to each other like cracked magnets—repelling those they should be attracting, yet powerless to avoid the collision with their harmonious defect. After a furtive and aborted liaison in a cloakroom—the pair pulls apart long enough to realize that hooking up with a stranger under a bunch of outerwear would be a mutual mistake in two long, sad trains of mistakes—they hatch a plan to exchange letters confessing their respective tragic love lives. The sense that both of them know that this encounter just may be their last best chance permeates the already stuffy coat check.“No e-mail.”“Absolutely,” he says. “Real letters. Ink. Paper. The whole deal. We’ll be like the pioneers, waiting by our windows for the Pony Express. In bonnets.”John kicks things off with the story of Jodi Dunne, his first love at sixteen. Almond nails the tentative stirrings of romance fighting against the poison tide of peer and familial pressure, social awkwardness, and “erotic incompetence” that make up everyone’s high school years.Almond’s doppelganger proves his commitment to the spirit of full disclosure by recounting an unfortunate (and nearly geometrically impossible) incident wherein he ejaculates into his own mouth and gives himself, “as known in porn circles,” the Pirate Eye. Now, if I hadn’t read Almond’s harrowing tales of his own sexual awakening, I would have called gratuitous bullshit and might have given up on this character, but that would have been a mistake.Jane fires back with her tale of Asbury Park boys and a brooding and doomed muscle car driving boyfriend, and we’re off to the races. “Michael Hanrahan was something that I hoped would happen. In fact, I hoped he’s go off like a bomb in my life, obliterating most everything except me, still standing, albeit charred and dizzy.”Romantic disaster after romantic disaster, and “charred and dizzy” covers the state of both characters pretty well by the time we find them back at the wedding. Will they be able to put it all behind them and start anew, one more time? Or are their respective personnel files too stuffed with abject failure to recommend advancement? Come to think of it, get Hugh Grant’s agent on the phone!

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