Cover image for So we can glow : stories
So we can glow : stories
Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections
1st ed.
Physical Description:
viii, 246 pages ; 22 cm.
From Kentucky to the California desert, these forty-two short stories expose the glossy and matte hearts of girls and women in moments of obsessive desire and fantasy, wildness and bad behavior, brokenness and fearlessness, and more. --


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A lush, glittering short story collection exploring female obsession and desire by an award-winning author Roxane Gay calls "a consummate storyteller."

From Kentucky to the California desert, these forty-two short stories -- ranging from the 80's and 90's to present day -- expose the hearts of girls and women in moments of obsessive desire and fantasy, wildness and bad behavior, brokenness and fearlessness, and more.

On a hot July night, teenage girls sneak out of the house to meet their boyfriends by the train tracks. Members of a cult form an unsettling chorus as they proclaim their adoration for the same man. A woman luxuriates in a fantasy getaway to escape her past. A love story begins over cabbages in a grocery store, and a laundress's life is consumed by her obsession with a baseball star. After the death of a sister, two high school friends kiss all night and binge-watch Winona Ryder movies.

Leesa Cross-Smith's sensuous stories -- some long, some gone in a flash, some told over text and emails -- drench readers in nostalgia for summer nights and sultry days. They recall the intense friendships of teenage girls and the innate bonds between mothers, the first heady rush of desire, and the pure exhilaration of womanhood, all while holding up the wild souls of women so they can catch the light.

Author Notes

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and the author of Every Kiss A War and Whiskey & Ribbons . She lives in Kentucky with her husband and children.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cross-Smith's rich collection (after Whiskey & Ribbons) follows women exploring desire, desperation, and despair. The brief opener, "We, Moons," an explosion of slam cadence ("We're okay, our hearts, dusted with pink"), serves as a battle hymn of self-determination and sisterhood that thematically unites the subsequent narratives. "Teenage Dream Time Machine" unfolds as a texting conversation between two mothers worried about their young, wild daughters and remembering their own impetuous youth. In "Pink Bubblegum and Flowers," a young woman crushes on one of the men rebuilding the deck on her parents' house and navigates a tense scene of toxic masculinity. In "California, Keep Us," a Kentucky couple, mourning the loss of their baby, retreats once a month for a weekend in California to assume different identities with one another and resolve not to "talk about death." The delightfully idiosyncratic prose ("She felt guilty about lusting over Clint. It was lazy, like cold French fries") distinguishes each of the narrator's points of view within common themes of love, friendship, sex, and loyalty. These stories showcase the wide range of Cross-Smith's talent. Agent: Kerry D'Agostino, Curtis Brown. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

A collection of 42 stories about the complexities of girlhood, womanhood, love, longing, and grief.Cross-Smith (Whiskey Ribbons, 2018, etc.) uses many formsfrom more traditional first- and third-person narratives to email and text exchanges, plays, and recipesto explore these themes. Most of the stories are quite short and feature vivid sensory detail; the author has a gift for describing smells in particular and using them to conjure emotion. But the stories tend to lack layers; they are beginnings without middles and endings, as if they were drafted from writing prompts and then polished, by a skilled author, without further development. The story "Girlheart Cake With Glitter Frosting" mimics a recipe. It begins, "POSSIBLE INGREDIENTS: Too much black eyeliner. Roses. Champagne from a can, champagne in a bottle. 'Music to Watch Boys To' by Lana Del Rey," and then lists more singers, authors, celebrities, songs, movies, and objects for another two pages. "You Should Love the Right Things" reads, in its entirety, "Not how it hurts when you press down on a yellowish-blue, purple-black bruise, but the feeling you get when you lift up. Let go." The language is rich and rhythmic, the sentiment fresh, but devoid of context, it resonates only so deeply. Even the more traditional stories read like vignettes, constellations of pretty images and ideas that make for scenes, not stories. Sometimes characters recur or side characters from one story emerge as main characters in another. But too often characters who are supposed to be close family, friends, or partners explain things to each other for the benefit of the reader. The book includes some promising characters and premises as well as flashes of brilliant writing and insight, but ultimately, the individual stories and their cumulative effect don't live up to these moments.Pithy turns of phrase and wordplay can't carry a whole collection. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Table of Contents

We, Moonsp. 1
The Great Barrier Reef Is Dying but So Are Wep. 4
Unknown Legendp. 22
Low, Smallp. 26
A Tennis Courtp. 28
Tim Riggins Would've Smokedp. 33
Surreptitious, Canary, Chamomilep. 35
Winona Foreverp. 39
Girlheart Cake with Glitter Frostingp. 48
Fast as Youp. 52
Chateau Marmont, Champagne, Chanelp. 56
Bearishp. 62
All That Smoke Howling Bluep. 63
Pink Bubblegum and Flowersp. 65
Knock Out the Heart Lights So We Can Glowp. 79
Get Rowdyp. 81
Re: Little Dovesp. 87
Out of the Strong, Something Sweetp. 89
The Lengthsp. 96
Small and High Upp. 98
Some Are Dark, Some Are Light, Summer Meltsp. 101
Brightp. 113
Dark and Sweet and Dirtyp. 115
Home Safep. 119
Teenage Dream Time Machinep. 125
Rope Burnsp. 138
Get Faye & Birdiep. 140
The Darl Innp. 152
You Should Love the Right Thingsp. 157
And Down We Go!p. 158
Crepuscularp. 171
Stay and Stay and Stayp. 177
Two Cherries under a Lavender Moonp. 181
When It Gets Warmp. 189
Boy Smokep. 192
Dandelion Lightp. 195
California, Keep Usp. 199
Cloud Reportp. 207
Downrightp. 216
You Got Mep. 221
Eine Kleine Nachtmusikp. 224
A Girl Has Her Secretsp. 237