Barbara the Slut and Other People

Lauren Holmes's debut collection, Barbara the Slut and Other People, explores a range of human connections. In the title story, a high school student with a rule about not sleeping with the same guy more than once finds the word "slut" spray-painted on her locker and revels in its hot pink color. In "Desert Hearts," a recent law school graduate pretends to be a lesbian to get a job in a sex toy store and contemplates having a baby to feel less alone. In "Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love," a young woman brings home a tourist, looking for a little action, and finds herself with a house guest who's overstayed his welcome--and fallen in love with her man-hating dog in the meantime.

In many of the stories, the connections in question are sexual; in others, they are more about families and friendships. Individually, each story is about a person's deep desires; as a collection, Barbara the Slut and Other People explores how those desires are shaped and challenged by the contexts in which the characters find themselves. In their depiction of love and acceptance, betrayal and heartbreak, these stories reveal and accept--and even celebrate--their characters' biggest flaws as they strive for intimacy. At times funny, at times crushingly sad, Holmes's book proves her to be a talented writer of fiction, asking readers to engage not only with who they are as individuals but also the world they live in together. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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