An explosive story collection from a bold, blistering new voice
With broken language, deep vernacular, unexpectedly fierce empathy, and a pace that'll break your granny's neck, Lindsay Hunter lures, cajoles, and wrenches readers into the wild world of Don't Kiss Me.
Here you'll meet Peggy Paula, who works the late shift at Perkin's and envies the popular girls who come in to eat french fries and brag about how far they let the boys get with them. You'll meet a woman in her mid-thirties pining for her mean-spirited, abusive boyfriend, Del, a nine-year-old who is in no way her actual boyfriend. And just try to resist the noir story of a reluctant, Afrin-addled detective.
Self-loathing, self-loving, and otherwise trapped by their own dumb selves, these characters make one cringe-worthy mistake after another. But for each bone-headed move, Hunter delivers a surprising moment that chokes you up as you peer into what seemed like deep emptiness and discover a profound longing for human understanding. It's the collision of these moments that make this a powerful, alive book.
The stories of Don't Kiss Me are united by Hunter's singular voice and unflinching eye. By turns crass and tender, heartbreaking and devastatingly funny, her stories expose a world full of characters seemingly driven by desperation, but in the end, they're the ones who get the last laugh. Hunter is at the forefront of the boldest, most provocative writers working now.
“Mesmerizing . . . visceral . . . exquisite. Hunter's portraits are heartbreaking. She cares about characters we don't want to think about, issues we would rather not face. These are not lovable characters; they make you sad and sometimes sick. But Hunter wants to know: Who are these girls inside? She doesn't shy from speaking their truths. And reading these stories? They kind of make you feel like your heart could kick the windows out.” —Hope Reese, Chicago Tribune
“Hunter's stories feel incredibly urgent. Hunter is such a talented writer that she makes the unimaginably unpleasant seem natural, and terrifyingly so . . . Those who've read Hunter's excellent debut, Daddy's, won't be surprised by her feats. If that collection announced a formidable and refreshing prose stylist, Don't Kiss Me cements that reputation.” —Eugenia Williamson, The Boston Globe
“The cover alone is great, but what's inside will make you laugh and scream and cringe and cry--in the best of ways, of course.” —Jen Doll, "25 Books to Beach-Read This Summer," New York Magazine
“Hunter is remarkably talented at taking sentences and twining them around the brain, creating a beautiful pattern out of ugliness . . . use[ing] language as a tool to excavate our entrenched humanity.” —Michele Filgate, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Hunter's magical prose is the sort of thing that might happen if George Saunders and Gertrude Stein co-edited Raymond Carver. The stories vary wildly in pace and procedure, but each has its own visceral language that goes straight to the gut.” —Ashley Baker, Nylon
“The collection creates a genuine sense of discomfort, forcing us to contemplate the presence of beauty in the ugliest of phenomena.” —Angela Sundstrom, Time Out New York
“Don't Kiss Me, Hunter's second short story collection, is a bold, haunting, and beautiful observation of lives lived outside the scope of the mainstream . . . Hunter near-effortlessly captures the hopes, fears, realizations, regrets, and desires of the uglier, more taboo, and misunderstood side of humanity. Though their worlds may be sordid, Hunter manages to infuse her misfits with incredible amounts of empathy and humor. Instead of repulsed, we often find ourselves rooting from the sidelines. And it's hard not to voraciously ingest all 26 stories in Don't Kiss Me, given their breakneck pace, raw emotion, and Hunter's own propensity for language that pops but never fizzles . . . [Don't Kiss Me] is transgressive without being navel-gazing, confrontational without being aggressive. But above all, it contains a whole lot of Hunter's bloody, beating heart.” —Rebecca Rubenstein, Kirkus
“These 26 stories, deeply internalized in neurotic lyricism, are hilarious and fully realized portraits of the disavowed . . . And in the uproarious title story, a woman obsesses over a female coworker she envies and despises. Miranda July and George Saunders come to mind, but Hunter's crass yet tender characters are unprecedented, relating fart jokes and impossible sentiment in stylized prose that mirrors their threadbare souls and ineffectual optimism.” —Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist
“Overall these stories land with a wet slap--messy and confrontational. They demand your horrified attention, and they reward it with exaggerated and irresistible humanity.” —Publishers Weekly
“Lindsay Hunter is electrifying at the word level, sentence level, line level, idea level. Say hello to your new favorite.” —Amelia Gray, author of THREATS
“Lindsay Hunter may be the most daring writer of any generation. Like animals on an undiscovered island, her stories are never-before-seen species to be gazed at with wonder, reverence, and no small amount of terror. In this collection of brilliant, deviant innovations, Hunter's scorching comical voice will hold you tightly with a raunchy tenderness as you laugh and cry together through every imaginable apocalypse. Prepare to have your eyebrows singed, to get insanely high off the otherworldly fumes of its grotesque and unstoppable perfection.” —Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa
“Lindsay Hunter's prose should be part of a survival kit--her stories will start a fire and burn you. They're heated, sardonic, fearless, and to the point. She mixes dark humor with everyday life, reminding me of writers like Amy Hempel, Maggie Estep, and A. M. Homes. Regardless of what she writes next, be it a book of poetry, a novel, or sentences carved on a gas station's bathroom stall or scribbled on a tavern's soggy napkin, I wanna be the first one to read it.” —Frank Bill, author of Donnybrook
“Lindsay Hunter is one hell of a writer who takes risks and leaves it all on the page in the very best ways. She makes the ugly beautiful and the raw elegant. Don't Kiss Me, tell truths with a fierce, percussive voice that is not only wholly original but so powerful, it steals into your body, your bones.” —Roxane Gay, author of Ayiti