Blueprints for Building Better Girls

By Elissa Schapell

Simon & Schuster, $24, 304 pages

Who is this author?

One of the apparently endless hordes of clever young writers who have made Brooklyn, NY, their home, Elissa Schapell first wrote for the satirical ‘80s mag, Spy, and went on to be an editor of The Paris Review, a founding editor of the much-admired literary journal, Tin House, and the “Hot Type” columnist for Vanity Fair. She likes the novel-told-in-linked-story form – “Blueprints” is her second, after “Use Me.”

What is this book about?

Women and their hook-ups, hang-ups and heartbreaks. In eight stories that mix humor (often bitter) and dark revelations (often funny), Schapell creates female characters from teens to mothers, each coping, and not always successfully, with personal dramas as they grow older. Set in time from the 1970s to the present, these stories are about finding one’s identity without losing one’s soul.

Why you’ll like it:

Schapell has a great ear for the way people talk – to others and to themselves — and a fine grasp of sardonic humor. This collection, whose characters range from college girls gone very wild to middle-aged mothers we’d love to comfort, offers much to relate to for women readers – and valuable, if unsettling, insights for men who want to understand women better.

What others are saying:

Schappell…is a diva of the encapsulating phrase, capable of conveying a Pandora’s box of feeling in a single line…[the] book crackles with the blunt, cynical humor wielded by people chronically on the defensive,” says The New York Times.

“Despite the talent for arch comedy that Schappell and her characters share, the tragic dimension of each story sears the heart,”  says Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

When is it available?

It’s available now in the library’s fiction department.

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