One story is about an more and more precarious intercourse recreation, one other about an 11-year-old’s party gone incorrect. There’s a princess fairy story, a man within the Peace Corps who’s plagued by his college students, a bachelorette get together with a particular visitor from a grimy film — and that’s simply the half of it.
As different as Roupenian’s tales are, all of them clearly come from the identical mind, a kind of brains that really feel out-of-this-world sensible and likewise fully askew — like these of Karen Russell, George Saunders, Mary Gaitskill.
Along with her easy, punchy opening strains, Roupenian likes to start tales at true beginnings, like childhood or a brand-new relationship, her tales typically ones of maturation in fast-forward. She additionally has a definite methodology of ending, which I can solely describe as pushing her characters and their plights off the deep finish. These tales get actually darkish, actually quick, typically within the final web page or two. That’s particularly the case with the primary story within the e-book — “Unhealthy Boy,” the one in regards to the intercourse recreation. If you happen to can deal with its brutal conclusion, you’ll be able to probably deal with the remainder of the gathering.
I’ll say right here that I’m not often a fan of the darkish, creepy or supernatural. My creativeness holds onto these issues for too lengthy; I can’t shake them. However the energy of those tales transcends anyone style or ingredient. Finally they’re about what it means to be human. In “Sardines,” a picked-on woman makes a “imply” want for her birthday, and will get a sophisticated type of revenge on her bullies. In “The Mirror, the Bucket, and the Previous Thigh Bone,” a princess falls in love with a determine in a cloak, which seems to be an inanimate reflection of herself. I had a tough time figuring out precisely why I felt so moved by that story, however I sensed I too can be happier with that mirror, bucket and thigh bone as a accomplice than with most of my dates.
“The Matchbox Signal” relates a person’s perspective on his girlfriend’s pores and skin situation: “What if she actually is internet hosting some sort of unique infestation, and due to David’s poorly timed outburst, the physician wrongly consigned her to the realm of the mentally unwell, drugging her right into a mute endurance of her ache?” Oof. In “Biter,” a girl fantasizes about biting her new co-worker, and when he finally forcibly kisses her, she lastly feels she will be able to get away with it. “That was terrible,” she thinks following his assault. “Worse than being bitten. Actually grotesque. However then, she thought, oh proper. Right here’s my likelihood.” I used to be particularly disturbed by how a lot I loved that story, as some sort of demented #MeToo-era manifesto.
As for “Cat Particular person”: I hope the story’s hype doesn’t outline Roupenian’s profession, as a result of she will be able to achieve this rather more. That story is simply as exact and completely minimal as the remainder of this assortment, however the content material is considerably much less fascinating; maybe its enchantment is by now extra a mirrored image of the expectations and experiences of its readers — our collective response to the grey areas of recent relationship. What’s particular about “Cat Particular person,” and the remainder of the tales in “You Know You Need This,” is the creator’s skilled management of language, character, story — her means to write down tales that really feel advised, and but so unpretentious and accessible that we predict they should be true.