4thcoming: Katherine Heiny

Katherine HeinyName: Katherine Heiny

Book: Single, Carefree, Mellow.

What’s it about? A collection of ten exquisite stories that form a guided tour of the human heart. 

In the title story, we meet Maya, who is torn between her wryly funny boyfriend and the allure of her veterinarian. In ‘Andorra,’ a woman’s lover calls her every Thursday as he drives to meet his wife at marriage counselling. ‘How to Give the Wrong Impression’ shows us a woman pining for her roommate, a man who will hold her hand but then tell her that her palm is sweaty. In ‘The Dive Bar’ a girl agrees to have a drink with her married lover’s wife. Revisiting Maya in several stories, chronicling her various states of love, this is a collection about how we are unfaithful to each other, both wilfully and unwittingly. Populated with unwelcome house guests, disastrous birthday parties, needy but loyal friends, and flirtatious older men, the stories are emotionally astute, sexy, and disarming – and they introduce us to a tart, and marvellous, new voice.

Why we’re excited: She puts women at the centre of the story and is uncompromising in their portrayal – her protagonists are complicated and unsanitised – who can offend as well as accommodate, rebel as well as conform.

What others are saying: Lena Dunham says: ‘Katherine Heiny’s work does something magical: elevates the mundane so that it has the stakes of a mystery novel, gives women’s interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve – and makes you laugh along the way.’

What she’s reading: The Collector by John Fowles. I’ve read it many times before but each time I react to it differently.

What she’s listening to: Serial, the podcast. My husband and I are obsessed and now we sit around like Ma and Pa Kettle, listening to the wireless.

What she’s watching: Project Runway, or “Girls’ Underpants,” as it’s known at my house.

Favourite word: Maybe the word “mange.” It’s inherently funny and also useful for describing any malady.

Favourite song: “Sixteenth Avenue” by Lacey J. Dalton. That line about how “they’ve all dialed the phone collect to home” gets me every time.

Living person you most admire: Stephen King. He’s so talented, so smart, so inventive – like a visitor from a more advanced race.

The trait you most deplore in yourself: Laziness. There’s a reason I’m publishing my first book at age 47.

The trait you most deplore in others: Laziness. (At least I’m consistent.)

The book you wish you’d written: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. My older son’s middle name is Mitchell – that’s how much I admire the book.

The book that everyone should read: Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro. She proves that a short story can be more powerful than a novel.

Writing ritual: For years I believed that every good story I wrote would be followed by a bad story, and I routinely threw every other story out. I don’t throw stories away anymore but part of me still believes that.

Best advice ever received: In the beginning, my agent told me, “Manner, manners, manners – show people your good ones.” My mother says the same thing.

SSingle, Carefree, Mellowingle, Carefree, Mellow is published by 4th Estate on 12th March 2015.

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