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BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT
Stories


Eleven stories about the battlefields–and fields of victory–that exist in seemingly harmless spaces, in kitchens and living rooms and cars. Set mostly in the American West, the stories feature small-town lawyers, ranchers, doctors, parents, and children, and explore the moral quandaries of love, family, and friendship. A ranch hand falls for a recent law school graduate who appears unexpectedly—and reluctantly—in his remote Montana town. A young father opens his door to find his dead grandmother standing on the front step. Two women weigh love and betrayal during an early snow. Throughout the book, the characters try to keep hold of opposing forces in their lives: innocence and experience, risk and stability, fidelity and desire.

Kelly Reichardt’s film Certain Women is based on short stories from Half in Love and Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.
The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2009
The Los Angeles Times Fiction Favorites of 2009
Amazon.com’s Top Ten Story Collections of 2009
O, The Oprah Magazine’s Summer Reading List

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PRAISE FOR BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT
“Don’t let the easy accessibility of Maile Meloy’s writing fool you: she’s capable of witchcraft.... These 11 stories are quick, powerful jabs, startling in their economy; you’re propelled toward each ending, certain she won’t be able to wrap it up in one more page, and you’re proved wrong every time.”   
Time

"[Meloy’s] such a talented and unpredictable writer that I'm officially joining her fan club; whatever she writes next, I'll gladly read it." 
— Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review

"Always true to her wide-ranging though consistently introspective characters, Meloy convincingly depicts the inchoate emotion that drives people, while also distilling meaning from it." 
The Atlantic 

"If life is all about choices, as the saying goes, then what happens when we simply can't make up our minds about what's most important? In her second volume of short stories, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, acclaimed novelist Maile Meloy (Liars and Saints, A Family Daughter), who first stunned critics in 2002 with her debut story collection, Half in Love, cracks at our nagging desire to have it all (the answers, the romance, the payout, and, in one case, the late grandmother come back to life) in 11 tightly written, remarkably fluid narratives, most of which unfold in sleepy towns across Meloy's native Montana." 
Elle

“Precise and restrained, Meloy’s diagnoses of a very American malignancy have an authentic moral force. So does her merciful treatment of the characters in its grip and of the victims of its spread. Young as she is (she's 37), she has a scope and maturity that at their most rigorous attain the grandeur of prophecy.”
Slate

“These stories, even in their simplicity, are so deep and involving that they forbid their readers to stop turning the pages. Not only will you want to read this book in one sitting, you will want to read each story a second time—and a third.”
Bookpage

“Meloy returns to the short story, the form in which she made her notable debut and to which her lucid style is arrestingly well suited.... Always true to her wide-ranging though consistently introspective characters, Meloy convincingly depicts the inchoate emotion that drives people, while also distilling meaning from it.”
— The Atlantic

“The award-winning Meloy continues to deliver stories that please and surprise as each narrative’s small world unfolds.... Readers who have waited impatiently for Meloy’s return to this genre... have a treat in store.” 
— Library Journal (starred review)

“Meloy offers a stirring portrayal of everyday longings and disappointments through an original cast of characters, from a socially inept cowboy to a lovelorn 9-year-old girl to a reclusive Argentinean widower.” 
Cookie magazine

“Meloy’s characters frequently leave each other or let each other down, and it is precisely that—their vulnerabilities, failures, and flaws—that make them so wonderful to follow as they vacillate between isolation and connection.”
Publishers Weekly

“When you have an actual physical reaction while reading a story, it’s the best thing in the world... It’s a cliché to compare a short story writer to Raymond Carver, but somehow I cannot escape the cliché.  The Carveresqueness comes from Meloy’s sparse prose and her ability to tell stories about ordinary people in a way that feels real, genuine. It’s a high compliment, really, that Meloy has earned.” 
— MinnesotaReads.com

“Meloy presents her fourth intense book, a collection of molten short stories that erupt from a volatile combination of the tender and the vicious.... Dualities and extremes abound as Meloy’s gentle, deer-in-the-headlight protagonists are stunned by the escapades of their daring, outlandish, even outlaw intimates.”
— Donna Seaman, Booklist

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It offers yet more evidence of Meloy’s fluency as a realist writer, of her Chekhovian resistance to resolving the existential dilemmas posed in her stories and her skill at allowing the perfect bit of dialogue or the telling detail to express all the emotion that otherwise remains inchoate for her characters…. In the best short stories—by Poe, Raymond Carver, Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor or Alice Munro—there is always malaise, if not outright heartache, on the horizon. In less able hands this convention turns lugubrious and contrived. But Meloy’s lean, targeted descriptions and her ultimately compassionate eye make this journey hurt so good.” 
Los Angeles Times

“In a Maile Meloy story, the thrill is in our own perception. Meloy never amplifies or underscores.  Her unadorned, low-key prose allows us to come close in to her characters.  In such proximity, how terrifyingly aware we become.... Meloy’s style is disciplined and sly. She keeps a perfect poker face. And we’re players in the game.”
Dallas Morning News

“There is one line in Maile Meloy’s newest story collection that completely slayed me. (It’s on page 97.) And in fact, there are many moments before and after that line that left me awestruck as I wondered how she was able to capture a feeling—typically one that’s very familiar, like the flushing embarrassment of an unexpected advance, or the sudden fury found in a bout of sibling rivalry—and create it anew. The effect is both masterful and ephemeral: All of a sudden, it’s as if your own life is reflected back to you. This is what great story writers do, and in the stories that follow—whose characters revel or unravel in their relationships to love and family—Meloy pinpoints the ambivalence running through our most powerful emotions, be it love, jealousy, grief, or loneliness. That she writes with so much truth and wisdom and restraint makes Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It an unexpected pleasure.”
Louisville Courier-Journal

“Maile Meloy’s impressive Both Ways Is the Only One I Want It hides no cubic zirconias among diamonds. The stories are all lustrous, the language as pristine as a lake in Montana, where several of them are set... Order or disorder? Cold or warmth? Freedom or safety? Such conflicts converge in a perfect storm of ambivalence, self-justification, and blind hope. Has ever a title been a more perfect match to its content? Meloy’s characters want it both ways... We readers, however, get to have it all. We can dip into the collection savoring one delicious morsel at a time or devour the whole book in a single sitting. We can choose our favorites certain that while one person’s potato is someone else’s potahto, either way, in the gifted hands of this storyteller, treats abound.”
The Boston Globe

“It’s impossible to pick the best of these stories; they’re all fabulous.” 
The Times (London) 

“One of the most talented US writers of the coming generation.... The timing is perfect, her approach to comedy is subtle.... Meloy consistently surprises because she is so aware that every story, as with life, has the potential for several different endings but only one defining shot.” 
Irish Times

“Meloy’s pictures are so clear that we cannot help but see ourselves in them.”
The Guardian

“Meloy’s protagonists tend to be transfixed by indecision, unable to control their conflicting desires. Yet there is no sense of drift to the writing, which is quietly purposeful, wry, and refreshingly sympathetic to human failing.”
The Financial Times

“The action fizzes with ideas, like bombs on a long fuse.”  
Vogue (UK) 

“Readable, plot-driven stories with the unexpected lurking just out of sight. Meloy’s deceptively simple prose carries you through shifting loyalties and relationships, subtle mysteries and shocking conclusions.”
Los Angeles Times Magazine, Lonely Hearts Book Club

“Maile Meloy’s Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It reads like a Bruce Springsteen album sounds: raw with a tender wildness and loaded with adolescent ache. The nuanced depictions of small-town life in some of these stories (‘He could have told her that her father was the first person he had ever seen falling down drunk, but that seemed unfriendly’) make for a rich tableau of lovelorn cowboys, provincial lawyers, and renegade women.” 
O Magazine, Summer Reading List 2010