Short Story Review: A Love Story by Samantha Hunt

Continuing with The New Yorker’s Best Short Stories of 2017, this week I read A Love Story by Samantha Hunt. 

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The New Yorker picked the quote, “The list of potential reasons that my husband and I no longer have sex wakes me up at night. If I’m not already awake thinking about the coyotes,” as the description of this short story, which doesn’t seem to represent the story very well.

Yes, the theme of the narrator’s sex life is recurrent throughout, but there are many sub-themes which are as effectively impactful as this.

We learn that the narrator is in her forties, a mother, a pot dealer, and now a writer. It’s obvious that the narrator wears many hats as many women that age do. But the author talks about these various aspects of her life in realistic ways which make it a successful, first-person telling of what it means to age as a woman.

In a funny section, the narrator describes a night where she goes out to a bar with a group of pot dealers, all of which were at least half her age. There, she is approached by a young, good-looking guy who she immediately believes wants to sleep with her. She starts panicking, wondering what her husband would think and remembering what it was like to be that young. But, in an unexpected turn of events, the young boy instead asks her if she has any snacks because he knows she’s a mom. This scene was hilarious, but also made you cringe with second-hand embarrassment.

The short story is full of scenarios like the bar one. Another tale is about how the narrator tries to initiate sex with her husband. She does this by asking him to “check her for ticks,” even though the climate in California makes it unlikely that she will ever contract Lyme Disease. Even though she knows she probably doesn’t have any, the narrator still asks her husband to check her, in the hope that he’ll do more than just observe her moles. He doesn’t and each night her husband shuts the light off leaving her disappointed.

It’s a sad look at a realistic situation of marriage. While the story makes the reader laugh at the ridiculous scenarios that the narrator describes, it also offers an extremely realistic portrayal of married life, growing older, and dealing with loneliness, which can occur even when you’re in a relationship.

This story is also a comment on communication, specifically between a husband and a wife. It can be so easy to say that communication is necessary for a relationship, but executing a discussion that’s both honest and not accusatory is a challenge, one that many people are hesitant to take on.

Even though I differ from the situation of this narrator and can’t relate very much to her struggles, the story itself is appealing. The scenarios are adaptable to many different situations and the unique set up of the divided sections gives the reader a moment to catch their breath and ponder about the deeper meaning of what was written.

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This to me is an excellent example of a successful short story and rightly deserves to be among the rest of The New Yorker’s 2017 stories. 

 

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