Fashion Book: Other People We Married
I bought Emma Straub’s story collection Other People We Married when I had a friend in town a couple weeks ago and we visited BookCourt. Straub is the kind of Brooklyn darling who’s so precious and successful you can’t even stand it. Or maybe I can’t. The kind of woman whose apartment was featured on Design Sponge and whose wedding was featured on A Cup of Jo. The kind of writer whose first story collection is lauded for what the NYRB calls “the particular joy of discovering the terra incognita of a story well told.”
All envy aside, I bought the book because I really liked her recent essay about female friendships on The Paris Review blog and I hadn’t treated myself to a new book in too long. I also hadn’t read a book of contemporary short fiction in a while. In Other People We Married, Straub brings us to a variety of spaces and we see several different kinds of relationships: a gay couple, sisters, married couples, friends, and neighbors. The twelve stories deal with death, parenthood, friendship, sibling rivalry, and the struggles of marriage.
Despite the glowing praise the book’s gotten, I was disappointed. There were standout stories (“Pearls,” “Puttanesca,” and “Mohawk” for me), but for the most part, I was left with a kind of dread after finishing the book. I don’t require my endings to be happy, but the characters were so devoid of hope and spark that to me, any likable characteristics they possessed were canceled out. One of the main things that troubled me about the book were the male characters. Nearly all of the straight men portrayed in the book were cast in the role of an oppressive, boring, or just flat out douchey husband or significant other. None of the women are fulfilled in their romantic relationships with these men. In fact, the only women who were once happy in their relationships had dead husbands. The other sympathetic men in the book are gay, or in one case (“Abraham’s Enchanted Forest”), slightly crazy. What’s the deal?
I have a lot to say about the book and would love to discuss it more, but I’ll wait until one of you has read it. (Anyone?) In the meantime, here’s the look I created, inspired by “Pearls,” in which Franny Gold (a recurring character) visits Palm Beach with her college roommate Jackie and her family. Franny is from Brooklyn, and has never been on vacation in Florida before. I liked this story because of the relationship between Jackie and Franny–it reminded me of Straub’s Paris Review essay. I wanted to create a young, 70s beachy outfit for Franny, so here it is:
Topshop western tassle cardigan: $98
Shoshanna bohemian paisley convertible one-piece bathing suit: $99
American Eagle distressed denim cutoffs: $37
Frye Joy huarache sandal: $109
Moroccan straw beach bag (Amazon): $30
J. Crew summer straw hat: $34.50
ASOS oversized crystal look sunglasses: $25
Have you been disappointed by a book you looked forward to recently?