Many thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC! This book will be published on Tuesday September 1 2020.
My Rating: 2 stars
After reading and loving The Girls a few years ago, I was excited to read something new from Emma Cline. Unfortunately, Daddy: Stories missed the mark for me. Several of the stories intrigued me at first, including “What Can You Do with a General” and “Northeast Regional,” but ultimately the only one I actually enjoyed was “Marion.” For me, “Marion” captured everything that I loved about The Girls: superb writing and characterization, grittiness, and the trials of female adolescence.
The entire collection does display a number of Cline’s strengths. She’s an excellent writer and she does a great job developing her characters in each story. The stories mostly deal with rather unlikable characters, which is fine by me but won’t be for everyone, and they all find themselves in difficult and uncomfortable situations. Everything about these stories felt real. The situations are things that happen all the time in real life. A boy commits an act of violence against a classmate. A father is abusive to his family and it makes for awkward holiday celebrations. A girl desperate for money ends up encountering someone dangerous. The characters are real people who you could easily come across out in the world. Cline does a marvelous job capturing this.
My biggest issue is that all of the stories dance around the main point without ever truly coming to it. “What Can You Do with a General” and “Northeast Regional” have tension building throughout, but nothing ever comes of it. Cline hides major details, which caused me to feel like I never knew quite what was going on. And ultimately, nothing seemed to happen in the stories. They never come to a point or resolution. We are just left in the middle of all the tension. I also felt that the majority of the stories were forgettable. The only one that truly stands out in my mind is “Marion.” Flipping through the table of contents, there are several that I don’t remember anything about.
Overall, this collection wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it. These short stories showcase Cline’s wonderful writing and character development skills, and I think Marion is definitely a story worth checking out.