Stories of women slotted away into restrictive roles: the celebrity's girlfriend, the widower's second wife, the lecherous professor's student, the corporate employee. And yet, Flattery's characters blithely demolish the boundaries of these limited and limiting social types.
The stories in Nicole Flattery’s exhilarating debut are populated with women who might be the same person at different times of their lives ... Lack of money and employment are frequent problems, as are her characters’ relationships with older men ... Like her contemporary, Sally Rooney, Flattery is drawn to the power imbalances between young women and older men ... Her depiction of such relationships is more nuanced than victims and exploiters...though nor does she let men off the hook. Flattery’s judgments crackle with cruel, clear sight ... The book’s epigraph comes from Lorrie Moore, who is an obvious influence on the high-wire style, those seductive insights armoured with glittering wit against the pain they describe. Flattery writes with empathy, freedom and virtuosic technique: this debut announces the arrival of a brilliant talent.
Flattery’s writing is like a fever dream; the details are lucid, but the basics (place, time) are disorientingly hazy. Perhaps this rootlessness is intentional ... Many of Flattery’s protagonists have endured some sort of trauma, but the events are so buried we feel we’re getting only their bitter remains, and we’re unsure if those remains are strength, or apathy ... The cruelty in the worlds Flattery draws makes the tender moments in her stories all the more affecting.
Flattery, whose stories have been compared to Lorrie Moore’s, depicts dead-end jobs and the grinding fear of poverty. While her style is jaunty and enlivening—Groucho Marx funny—her young women are even less hopeful than Moore’s. They’re held hostage by the economic machinery of their lives ... Beneath the one-liners and clever dark comedy, Show Me a Good Time shows real daring. 'Abortion, a Love Story' intentionally takes things too far, pushing way past 'plot' and 'character' to arrive at something that feels violently new. Flattery’s depiction of precarity is not ornamental. It stretches and blisters the form of the stories themselves, leaving the reader laughing, crying, confused—and feeling understood.