The List: A Love Story in 781 Chapters, by Aneva Stout

Gimmick books—miniature books, books that come with soundtracks, books cut into weird shapes—usually leave me cold. But I really enjoyed Aneva Stout’s The List: a Love Story in 781 Chapters. Sure, the format was a conceit... but it's a clever, amusing, well written conceit, and therefore pretty easy to forgive.

Stout’s book reads like poetry. Each “chapter” is no more than a line or two long, and readers will instantly fall into the rhythm of the writing:

330. You’ll snoop through the man’s apartment.
331. You’ll look in his medicine cabinet.
332. You’ll look in his underwear drawer.
333. You’ll look in his closet.
334. You’ll find something that you wish you hadn’t.
     a. A closet that’s neater than your living room.
     b. Twister.
     c. A videotape labeled: Aruba.

It’s not that the action in this sequence is original. There are dozens of chick-lit books that feature pretty much this exact series of events (not necessarily the Aruba videotape, but you take my meaning). Stout’s ability to reduce this done-to-death scene to a handful of brisk, elegant lines makes her description of female dating neuroses seem downright innovative—and funny as hell.

The biggest problem with this book is that it costs $12.95, and it only took me about twenty minutes to read it. (Hey, we may have gotten a review copy, but we worry about your pocketbooks too, Wordcandy readers, and 64 cents per entertainment minute is a lot of money.) Still, it’s a prettily bound book, highly suitable for gift giving, and who’s to know if you take a gander at it first? Just don’t break the spine.

I have trouble imagining what Ms. Stout might produce next. She’s obviously a gifted writer, and another condensed story would be fun, but it would probably permanently stamp her as a one-trick pony. Unfortunately, we can’t find any hints regarding her future plans (and even if it is another condensed story, we here at Wordcandy keep an open mind about one-trick ponies, as long as the trick in question is cool enough), but we look forward to seeing her next book.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


robotic princess
robotic princess
12 Jul, 2006 02:15 AM @ version 0

I picked this up at my local grocery store--mega-cute.

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