Book Review: Single, Carefree, Mellow

Single, Carefree, Mellow
By Katherine Heiny
Review by Bel

This hilarious collection of short stories examines the complexities of love, betrayal and loss through the mundane absurdities of modern life. The logistics of an affair, the death of a pet, hosting a child’s birthday party, the loathing of a neighbour. These all-too-familiar moments are rendered sublime a lovely sense of the ridiculous that writers like Dolly Alderton and Nora Ephron pull off so well. Her tight control of the comedic and tragic moments is skillful – she cleverly makes you believe you’re reading something light, but then lands a sucker punch and you want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Heiny’s wit is sharpest in the candid descriptions and discussions of sex, which playfully contrast the simplicity of the act with the complexity of its emotional ramifications. So don’t be fooled by the title – the stories show how sometimes our yearning to be ‘single, carefree, mellow’ can often make us anything but. They show how sometimes the more we seek freedom, the more we behave without regard for consequence, the more we tell ourselves everything’s fine, the messier our lives can become.

Heiny’s rare combination of wit and wisdom sees her characters juggle the mundane and momentous with heart-breaking results. This is a laugh-out-loud delight. And if short stories aren’t your thing, try her delightful first novel, Standard Deviation .