Half in Love
Lean and controlled in their narration, abundant and moving in their effects, Maile Meloy’s stories introduce a striking talent. Most are set in the modern American West, made vivid and unexpected in Meloy’s unsentimental vision; others take us to Paris, wartime London, and Greece, with the same remarkable skill and intuition.
In “Four Lean Hounds, ca. 1976,” two couples face a complicated grief when one of the four dies. In “Ranch Girl,” the college-bound daughter of a ranch foreman must choose which adult world she wants to occupy. In “A Stakes Horse,” a woman confronts risk and loss at the racetrack and at home. And in “Aqua Boulevard”—winner of the 2001 Aga Khan Prize for Fiction—an elderly Parisian confronts his mortality. Meloy’s command of her characters’ voices is breathtaking; their fears and desires are deftly illuminated. Smart, surprising, and evocative, Meloy’s brilliantly observed stories fully engage the mind and heart.
Reading Group Guide
Half in Love by Maile Meloy
1. In the story "Tome," a female attorney represents Sawyer, a man, disabled on his job, who seeks results beyond what is legally possible. What particular decisions or considerations does the lawyer have to make as a woman in the profession?
2. In "Four Lean Hounds ca.1976," Hank deals with the grief and guilt of losing his best friend, Duncan. Near the end of the story Hank thinks: "Duncan had wronged him, but all he could hate his friend for was that Duncan had been loved." Why do you think Hank feels Duncan has "wronged him"? Has Hank wronged Duncan?
3. Clay and Susan, the couple in the story "Native Sandstone" set out to acquire a fair amount of sandstone from old man Albert. Why do you think the sandstone and other "native" materials are so important to the building of the couple's home? What does the visit to Albert's house reveal about Clay and Susan and their relationship?
4. In "Ranch Girl" the narrator claims that if you are born a ranch girl, "you've been dealt a bad hand." This statement suggests some sort of predetermined destiny. How does being branded a ranch girl limit her potential opportunities? When the cards say "go," why doesn't she leave?
5. Gina and her boyfriend Chase find themselves stuck in a diner, waiting for a wreck to clear in "Garrison Junction." Discuss how Gina and Chase find themselves at a junction all their own. After a ten-year relationsh see more