Like David Eggers, only female.
April 4, 2004 7:58 PM   Subscribe

my girlfriend is a fan of writers such as chuck palahniuk, dave eggers, jeffrey eugenides, david sedaris.
recently,she's expressed interest in finding an author (or authors) with a similar style-- but female.

any thoughts or suggestions?
posted by ronv to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't read anything by her (so this might be way off), but the late Amanda Davis does come to mind. She wrote this.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:09 PM on April 4, 2004


Sarah Vowell wrote The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and is often included on segments of This American Life on NPR (as is Sedaris). It's a collection of short stories and essays that include references to nationalism, history, literature, icons and pop culture. She also wrote Take the Cannoli - I haven't read it yet, but it is on my fun summer reading list.

I would also recommend The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. It's not quite the same vein, but she has a very (post)modern writing style, and pays attention to detail in much the same way as the authors you have listed. It's also a collection of short stories with an organizing theme.
posted by fionab at 8:14 PM on April 4, 2004


Maybe Kathleen Dunn (author of Geek Love)?
posted by drezdn at 8:15 PM on April 4, 2004


I don't know if the authors you mention have altogether that much in common. Nevertheless, here's some (highly subjective) recommendations:

AL Kennedy
Zadie Smith

or any other female authors listed in Granta's Best of Young British Writers 2003.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:49 PM on April 4, 2004


Maybe try Music for Torching by A.M. Holmes or Original Bliss by A.L. Kennedy.
posted by btwillig at 8:50 PM on April 4, 2004


Zadie Smith

I haven't read her but both my girlfriend and my sister really liked her, so take that for whatever it's worth.
posted by The God Complex at 9:08 PM on April 4, 2004


As far as Sarah Vowell goes (which is pretty far; I adore her in a Sedarisish way), Take the Cannoli is the better of the two.
posted by dame at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2004


Oh yes, I second (third) the recommendation for Zadie Smith -- White Teeth was her big breakthrough.
posted by fionab at 9:21 PM on April 4, 2004


laurie notaro! she is like a straight, female david sedaris.
posted by sugarfish at 9:37 PM on April 4, 2004


I really enjoy Sedaris (but not Palahnick, of whom Fight Club is the only thing I've read, nor Eggers, of whom AHWOSG is the only thing I've read), but the closest thing I can recall in a female voice to Sedaris's witty banter was The Girl's Guide to Hunting & Fishing by Melissa Banks. Very clever stuff.
posted by jonson at 9:55 PM on April 4, 2004


For short fiction, she might like Jincy Willet, whose collection "Jenny and the Jaws of Life" just got reprinted (bonus: cover blurb by Sedaris). For nonfiction, maybe Susan Orlean -- now most famous for being played by Meryl Streep in "Adaptation." I loved The Orchid Thief and quite liked the magazine-article collection The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.
posted by lisa g at 10:04 PM on April 4, 2004


The late Kathy Acker (link is to Salon obituary) could wipe the floor with Chuck Palahniuk. Not for the faint of heart. I recommend "Blood and Guts in High School", a violent, pornographic, funny, touching book. Most people prefer "Empire of the Senseless", however.

Who needs a female Dave Eggers, anyway? Isn't one of him enough?

Haven't read Eugenides, other than a now-forgotten story or two in The New Yorker, so I won't venture a comparison.

And I second the Susan Orlean recommendation. Good stuff.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:16 PM on April 4, 2004


Lorrie Moore. Lorrie Moore. Lorrie Moore.
posted by herc at 10:25 PM on April 4, 2004


thank you, thank you for all the suggestions. i've already forwarded the url for this conversation to her work mailbox, so she should get a nice surprise tomorrow over her morning coffee.

please keep the names coming.

oh and BitterOldPunk--and everyone else-- i strongly suggest reading eugenides' Middlesex. an amazing read, it is.
posted by ronv at 10:39 PM on April 4, 2004


There's Lydia Davis, who rocked my world a while back. She writes (very) short fiction, and was one of the big influences (from what I understand) on Eggers and the whole McSweeney's set. In fact, McSweeney's published a compilation of her work ("Samuel Johnson is Indignant") that kicks all kinds of ass. And it's only $10. I have two.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:49 PM on April 4, 2004


Aw, crap, I got Lydia Davis and Amanda Davis mixed up.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:57 PM on April 4, 2004


my partner teaches twentieth century literature and always has Angela Carter on his reading list.
posted by nyoki at 12:16 AM on April 5, 2004


Jay McInerney is often mentioned in my "If you like Chuck, you may also like..." Amazon recomendations.
posted by seanyboy at 12:20 AM on April 5, 2004


Damn it. Read the Question. Once again, I'm really sorry.
posted by seanyboy at 12:22 AM on April 5, 2004


I second Lisa's suggestion of Jincy Willet. "Jenny and the Jaws of Life" is just gold
posted by lotsofno at 3:49 AM on April 5, 2004


I whole-heartedly agree with Herc on the Lorrie Moore suggestion and also recommend GNOD for finding similar authors to any author you may like. Check it out.
posted by AwkwardPause at 4:57 AM on April 5, 2004


Aimee Bender is part of that scene. I like her quite a bit.
posted by blueshammer at 5:54 AM on April 5, 2004


Third Jincy Willet. I read Jenny and the Jaws of Life almost a year ago and every once in awhile one of the stories will creep up on me and whallop me in the brain and I'll think, "God, where did that intense/bizarre/terribly sad memory/snapshot come from?" and then I'll remember... Oh. Jenny and the Jaws of Life.

RE: David Sedaris cover blurb: I'm still trying to figure out how that book was funny...

This is a great thread. I've felt very stale in my reading choices lately and I've not heard of many of these authors. Thanks!
posted by jennyb at 6:08 AM on April 5, 2004


A very nice non-MeFite named Jacob emailed me to say the following:
--------
I wanted to recommend Merril Markoe to Ronv and anybody else looking for a Sarah Vowell/David Sedaris-type write, but not being a MeFi member, I can't actually post...My favorite Merrill Markoe book is "What The Dogs Have Taught Me", but it's sadly out of print. Amazon has some used copies. Merrill Markoe's Guide To Love is also very funny.
-------
/end of channeling for the first time. I feel like Whoopi in Ghost!
posted by fionab at 7:41 AM on April 5, 2004


I like all those authors with the exception of Eggers. I'm just going to chime in and say "me too" to a few authors already listed: Kathleen Dunn's Geek Love is a great weird book full of freaks that Chuck P. readers will probably like. Also Angela Carter's fiction really covers a wide range. Her more "dark literature" novels include The Infernal Desire Machine of Dr. Hoffman and Nights at the Circus. Neither of these authors have the self-referentiality of Sedaris or Palahniuk but they cover similar themes and are very talented and able writers who do creative and interesting things with their texts. Other similar themed authors [though not at all contemporaries of these guys] include Dorothy Allison, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor and Shirley Jackson. Jackson's book We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of the most Palahniuk-like books I have ever read -- both for its creepiness as well as its humor -- even though it came out in 1962.
posted by jessamyn at 8:06 AM on April 5, 2004


A.M. Homes is really good, I think.
posted by callmejay at 11:02 AM on April 5, 2004


Kathleen Dunn's Geek Love is a great weird book full of freaks that Chuck P. readers will probably like.

Co-incidence that they're both from Portland?

I'll add my voice to the Lorrie Moore recommendations. At the David Sedaris reading I saw, he was quite assertive in recommending her Birds of America.
posted by jdroth at 12:21 PM on April 5, 2004


Mentioned already and seconding: Lydia Davis, Lorrie Moore

Also recommended: Lydia Millet
posted by gwint at 2:11 PM on April 5, 2004


I strongly second the Merrill Markoe suggestion-- she is the master of sarcasm and can make me laugh like nobody else. All of her stuff is great, and you might want to pick up a used copy of It's My F----- Birthday!.

In the non-fiction category, Cynthia Heimel writes wicked, caustic, feminist humor. Some of her titles: If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?; Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I'm Kissing You Goodbye; If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?

And if it somehow passed you by, Donna Tartt's The Secret History was THE read of 1992, very much in the Palahniuk/ Eugenides mode.

Finally, Margret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is her best novel so far.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:28 PM on April 5, 2004


Chemical Pink by Katie Arnoldi is creepy like Chuck's books...
posted by esch at 6:47 PM on April 5, 2004


all good suggestions, especially Moore, the two Davises, Lahiri.
(and except McInerney who, also, is a guy)

try poetry though: Sharon Olds
posted by matteo at 7:14 PM on April 5, 2004


I echo the Lorrie Moore, and have recently discovered Kelly Link. I'm generally not a big fan of anything that that includes fairy tale-like elements, but she pulls it off incredibly skillfully. For what it's worth, Jonathan Letham heartily endorses her too.
posted by Harvey Birdman at 7:49 PM on April 5, 2004


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