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A Manual for How to Love Us

By Erin Slaughter
A Manual for How to Love Us by Erin Slaughter digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

A debut, interlinked collection of stories exploring the primal nature of women’s grief—offering insight into the profound experience of loss and the absurd ways in which we seek control in an unruly world.

Seamlessly shifting between the speculative and the blindingly real, balancing the bizarre with the subtle brutality of the mundane, A Manual for How to Love Us is a tender portrait of women trying their best to survive, love, and find genuine meaning in the aftermath of loss.

In these unconventional and unpredictably connected stories, Erin Slaughter shatters the stereotype of the soft-spoken, sorrowful woman in distress, queering the domestic and honoring the feral in all of us. In each story, grieving women embrace their wildest impulses as they attempt to master their lives: one woman becomes a “gazer” at a fraternity house, another slowly moves into her otherworldly stained-glass art, a couple speaks only in their basement’s black box, and a thruple must decide what to do when one partner disappears.

The women in Erin Slaughter’s stories suffer messy breaks, whisper secrets to the ghosts tangled in the knots of their hair, eat raw meat to commune with their inner wolves, and build deadly MLM schemes along the Gulf Coast.

Set across oft-overlooked towns in the American South, A Manual for How to Love Us spotlights women who are living on the brink and clinging to its precipitous edge. Lyrical and surprisingly humorous, A Manual for How to Love Us is an exciting debut that reveals the sticky complications of living in a body, in all its grotesquerie and glory.

3 Reviews

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and appreciated how much artistry there was in the book. Following the stories of all of these women and seeing important, meaningful, and tragic moments of their lives felt so real and reflective of the world we live in. While sometimes the artistry evaded me and I didn't quite understand the premise of a short story, the meaning behind the tragedy was always clear and I felt for each and every character.”
“Stunning. Truly exquisite writing. Every couple of pages I'd whisper to myself: yes, this is why I love literature, this thirst for words can only be quenched by a book like this. I decided to take notes after each story and give each their own rating out of 5. I won't give any details as to what each story is about, but I will share my individual ratings below. My absolute favorites were Watching Boys Do Things and A Manual for How to Love us. 1. Anywhere || 4.5/5 2. You Too Can Cure Your Life || 2.5/5 3. The Box || 4.5/5 4. We Were Wolves || 4/5 5. The Dragging Route || 3/5 6. Watching Boys Do Things || 5/5 7. A Manual for How to Love Us || 5/5 8. Burrowing || 2.5/5 9. Nest || 4/5 10. The Forgotten Coast || 1/5 11. Crescendo 1.5/5 12. Instructions for Assembly || 3.5/5 13. Elsewhere 4.5/5 Recurring themes all throughout: girlhood, womanhood, female friendships, parenthood, marriage, grief, coping mechanisms, feeling trapped/stuck, poverty, class, etc. Slaughter divides this book into three parts (six stories in Part One, one story in Part Two, and the last six stories in Part Three), and at first I didn't see why you would break up a collection of short stories into different parts when all stories are different in their own way...until I reached Part Three and it all made perfect sense. Even though my least favorite stories were in Part Three, I still enjoyed the clever shift in writing style, and it all starts with the single story that makes up Part Two: A Manual for How to Love Us. This was the catalyst, the story that lets the reader know what Slaughter is capable of. Anyone that has read short story collections knows that the story behind the title of the collection is usually the first one. But in this book, the title story is in the middle. It's a key to a door, one that leads you to a room with a magnifying glass and tweezers, inviting you to open your mind's eye a little wider, and find what cannot be easily seen. In the first half, I was impressed by Slaughter's brilliant writing and the variety of themes presented, but the latter half impressed me by Slaughter's use of allegory. I found myself pausing more often, highlighting what I felt needed to be carefully dissected. There are feelings that I have never tried to put into words (thinking it would be too difficult), but Slaughter captured them perfectly and put them in writing; as I read these intimate realizations, I was forced to swallow them, accepting their truth. This collection is for any and all who love coming across proof that words are magic, and that this magic is deliciously satisfying. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Harper Perennial for an ARC in exchange for my honest review (:”
“This isn't perfect and I didn't enjoy every story, but I had to round this one up to five stars because I loved the ones I enjoyed so much. Can't wait to see what this author brings out next, because there were definite flashes of brilliance here”

About Erin Slaughter

Erin Slaughter is the author of two poetry collections: The Sorrow Festival and I Will Tell This Story to the Sun Until You Remember That You Are the Sun. She is editor and co-founder of the literary journal and chapbook press The Hunger, and holds an MFA from Western Kentucky University. Originally from Texas, she lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she is a PhD candidate at Florida State University.

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