Publication Date: Feb 28, 2012
List Price US $14.95
List Price US $12.99
Stephanie Vaughn is a writer’s writer, one whose debut collection of stories, Sweet Talk, was published more than two decades ago to critical acclaim. Readers have come to these stories over the years through word of mouth, posting glowing reviews to their Goodreads pages and on their blogs—unanimously agreeing that this collection is a modern classic that deserves to be in print. Crafted in graceful, honest prose, Vaughn’s stories go straight to the heart of how people live, grow and survive.
Excerpt from Sweet Talk
Sometimes Sam and I loved each other more when we were angry. “Day,” I called him, using the surname instead of Sam. “Day, Day, Day!” It drummed against the walls of the apartment like a distress signal.
“Ah, my beautiful lovebird,” he said. “My sugar-sweet bride.”
For weeks I had been going through the trash trying to find out whether he had other women. Once I found half a ham sandwich with red marks that could have been lipstick. Or maybe catsup. This time I found five slender cigarette butts.
“Who smokes floral-embossed cigarettes?” I said. He had just come out of the shower, and droplets of water gleamed among the black hairs of his chest like tiny knife points. “Who’s the heart-attack candidate you invite over when I’m out?” I held the butts beneath his nose like a small bouquet. He slapped them to the floor and we stopped speaking for three days. We moved through the apartment without touching, lay stiffly in separate furrows of the bed, desire blooming and withering between us like the invisible petals of a night-blooming cereus.
We finally made up while watching a chess tournament on television. Even though we wouldn’t speak or make eye contact, we were sitting in front of the sofa moving pieces around a chess board as an announcer explained World Championship strategy to the viewing audience. Our shoulders touched but we pretended not to notice. Our knees touched, and our elbows. Then we both reached for the black bishop and our hands touched. We made love on the carpet and kept our eyes open so that we could look at each other defiantly.
“Powerful…The writing in Sweet Talk is pure and elegiac, as though it were piped in directly from the soul.” –New York Times Book Review
“Wonderful…These stories, bred on familiar minimal ground, expand into a generosity chivied by imagination and a nervy voice.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Supple, elegant, adventurous, even funny.” —Village Voice Literary Supplement
“Stephanie Vaughn’s stories have a lively voice and a lucid style…Vaughn’s world is full of imaginative metaphors, including microcosmic worlds, suggesting hidden possibilities and longings.” —Washington Post Book World
“Stephanie Vaughn is a natural writer, and her quirky vision makes the stories in Sweet Talk a collection of cool beauty.” —Boston Globe
“Beautifully written and insightful…Sweet Talk ignites a quiet series of explosions that will echo in a reader’s memory long after the book is closed.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“Stephanie Vaughn [has an] astonishing, Grace Paley-like facility with the technical construction of the short story, and with the artistic achievement possible when a novel’s worth of emotions and relationships are compressed into brilliant, diamond-like stories.” —West 10th
“Originally released two decades ago, when they were so widely acclaimed, these stories are now considered a ‘modern classic’…Vaughn’s language is smart, the metaphors are illustrative, and the characters are relatable…These ten stories take us through relationships, conflicts, imagination and death, in order to bring attention to the absurdity of ourselves, the people around us, and the connections that form between the two.” —The Coffin Factory
“[Vaughn’s characters] seem so real, despite how little you know about them. You want to hug some and shake others. [Her] stories will make you laugh out loud, cry, and wonder how you would handle certain situations yourself.” —The Examiner
“At their best, which is nearly all the time, the stories in Stephanie Vaughn’s collection Sweet Talk, follow their own internal rhythms with an innate emotional insight that feels both familiar and refreshingly unique.” —Critical Mob
“Vaughn’s writing is filled with dazzling sentences and emotional twists. No character fails to make a joke when a hug might be more appropriate, and none can quite communicate the depths of their feeling to any of the others…Sweet Talk takes beautiful sentences and shapes them into explorations of lives in which laughter is everywhere, but always comes with a cost.” —Rain Taxi
“Readers will see connections to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men Are Gone. —Cleveland.com