How it Ended by Jay McInerneyIt was a pleasure to spend the past few weeks with short stories from Jay McInerney. How It Ended: New and Collected Stories is a diverse collection and showed me a side of McInerney’s writing I haven’t seen before. The McInerney I’ve been exposed to has always taken place in New York City among a crowd of characters I felt like I could know. Here, he breaks out of New York City and takes us to foreign countries.

Among my favorites here…

“It’s Six A.M. Do You Know Where You Are?” Of course I love this one. It’s the original short story behind Bright Lights, Big City. It was wonderful getting that bread off the truck for the first time in about 20 years.

“The Madonna of Turkey Season.” The holidays can be difficult for families and these folks have it bad year after year with one thing or another.

“In the North-West Frontier Province.” This story was the most different from anything else I’ve read from McInerney. Set in Landi Kotal Pakistan. This focuses on two people waiting for their friend to come back from Kabul where he was to complete a deal. Meanwhile, in Landi Kotal, the woman is trying to detox and the man is trying to keep everything together. It was wonderfully nuanced and the characters and setting were just stunning and the whole thing vibrated an uneasiness.

“The Queen and I.” Another separation from the usual as far as I’m concerned. It’s in New York City, but it looks at the street culture. We meet a songwriter/poet/coke & crack addict who befriends a trans hooker and becomes her pimp/protector. It was a completely engaging read.

“I Love You, Honey.” This one is just plain disturbing. Liam and Lora are married. But twice Lora has abortions out of love for her husband. I know, it sounds bizzare but it made for an interesting story about some very out of kilter characters.

“Sleeping with Pigs.” The funniest story in the book. Boy meets Girl. Girl gets pig for pet. Nothing is the same again.

“The March.” Is a story featuring Corrine, who I initially met in Brightness Falls (McInereny’s post 9/11 novel). She, unfortunately, has her world rocked as she discovers how much of the humanness New Yorkers gained after 9/11 fell away as time passed.

It took a long time to read this book, which I’m not proud about. It’s been difficult to get into a reading rhythm now that I’m not riding my bike more and the subway less. But I’m working in so that at least one morning a week when I’m up for “project” time, I’m reading.

Up next: Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg, who last night won the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Childrens/Young Adult novel for this book.