Book Reviews

Book Review: Help Yourself by Curtis Sittenfeld

Help Yourself is a collection of three short stories about human behaviour with a specific focus on gender, class and racial issues.

In White Women LOL, Jill has a falling out with her suburban friends after a racist encounter – which she is sure was not racist – is posted on Facebook. Jill tries to make amends, but maybe, she’s trying too hard.

In Creative Differences, a Manhattan film crew are in the midwest are in the process of filming an internet campaign featuring up and coming artists in a documentary. But, Melissa, their final artist and a photographer, puts a spanner in the works.

Finally, in Show Don’t Tell a cohort of student writers debate writing and narratives while competing for a prestigious scholarship at their university. 

This is the first time I’m reading anything by Curtis Sittenfeld and I must say, I loved this collection. I loved her writing style, her humour & her ability to discuss serious issues with compassion, and her astute observation of human behaviour and interactions. The first and third stories were my favourites.

‘Great literature has never been produced by a beautiful woman.’

I stared at him for a few seconds. ‘That’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’

Curtis Sittenfeld, Show Don’t Tell (p. 68, Help Yourself)

Yes, you can say whether people have published books. But you don’t get to say whether they’re writers. Some of them are probably working on books now that they’ll eventually finish and sell; some of them probably haven’t written fiction for years and might never again. But the way they inhabit the world, the way they observe it – of course, they’re writers

Curtis Sittenfeld, Show Don’t Tell (p. 78, Help Yourself)

If you enjoy short stories, you should definitely pick this up. My only gripe is there weren’t more stories!

My rating:

Book Details:

CategoryFiction, Short Stories
PublisherPenguin Random House
Publishing Date2020

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