Female Trouble


Female Trouble

Female Trouble features thirteen wise, funny, and startlingly perceptive stories about the vagaries and revelations of womanhood. Named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers of her generation, Antonya Nelson explores the broad notion of family from myriad angles in Female Trouble. Set in the vividly rendered Midwest, these moving stories are dark and honest portraits of people in moral quandaries, gray areas, unclear circumstances -- from the three-timing thirty-year-old man of the title story to the divorced mother of a turbulent teen in "Incognito" to the sexually adventurous daughter of an adulterous mother in "Stitches." With Female Trouble, Nelson has created a cast of memorable characters who reveal us to ourselves with disturbing clarity and conscience.
  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743218726 | 
  • April 2003
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide -- Female Trouble, by Antonya Nelson
Female Trouble is Antonya Nelson's first story collection since being selected as one of The New Yorker's twenty best writers for the twenty-first century. Author of three previous collections and three novels, Nelson has consistently been praised for her precise and energetic prose, her wry, offbeat humor, and the vividness with which she evokes her characters' inner lives. All of these qualities are in evidence in Female Trouble, whose thirteen stories explore the vagaries of marriage and romance, the difficulties of family, and the revelations of female life.
Discussion points
1. "Every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself." Antonya Nelson opens the book with this epigraph, a quote from Oscar Wilde. Discuss the ways in which the women in these stories act out, both against external expectations and against themselves. What effect does rebellion have on their lives? Consider especially the teenage girls in "Incognito," Lynnie in "Loose Cannon," and Andrea in "Happy Hour."
2. "Loneliness never stopped stunning her; it was a lesson to learn again and again." [p. 52] This description, of Ellen in "Stitches," could easily apply to a number of characters in the collection. How do these people -- from Ellen, to the narrator of "Palisades," to the young widow in "One Dog Is People" -- respond to their feelings of solitude, and what do we le see more

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About the Author

Antonya Nelson
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Antonya Nelson

Antonya Nelson teaches creative writing at the University of Houston, and is the award-winning author of three novels and four short story collections. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Best American Short Stories. She divides her time among Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.