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Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It Audiobook, by Maile Meloy Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Maile Meloy Narrator: Kirsten Potter, Bronson Pinchot Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2010 ISBN: 9781481554190
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,811 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Award-winning writer Maile Meloy’s return to short stories explores complex lives in an austere landscape with the clear-sightedness that first endeared her to readers.

Eleven unforgettable new stories demonstrate the emotional power and the clean, assured style that have earned Meloy praise from critics and devotion from readers. Propelled by a terrific instinct for storytelling, and concerned with the convolutions of modern love and the importance of place, this collection is 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, Meloy examines the tensions between having and wanting, as her characters try to keep hold of opposing forces in their lives: innocence and experience, risk and stability, fidelity and desire.

Knowing, sly, and bittersweet, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It confirms Maile Meloy’s singular literary talent. Her lean, controlled prose, full of insight and unexpected poignancy, is the perfect complement to her powerfully moving storytelling.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Though it might seem strange to praise a writer for the things she doesn’t do, what really sets Meloy apart is her restraint. She is impressively concise, disciplined in length and scope. And she’s balanced in her approach to character, neither blinded by love for her creations, nor abusive toward them…She’s such a talented and unpredictable writer that I’m officially joining her fan club; whatever she writes next, I’ll gladly read it.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “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

  • “After two well-received novels, 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.”


  • “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 make for a rich tableau of lovelorn cowboys, provincial lawyers, and renegade women. Don’t miss this sleeper hit of 2009.”

    O, the Oprah Magazine

  • “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…cracks at our nagging desire to have it all in eleven tightly written, remarkably fluid narratives, most of which unfold in sleepy towns across Meloy’s native Montana.”


  • “Readers drawn to the short story are sometimes disappointed upon reading a collection by a single author, even one they favor. The collection might seem padded, or the voice that struck us as original and engaging becomes boringly familiar halfway through. No such hazard awaits the readers of this new collection. The award-winning Meloy continues to deliver stories that please and surprise as each narrative’s small world unfolds…Verdict: Readers who have waited impatiently for Meloy’s return to this genre, perhaps the one in which Meloy herself seems most at home, have a treat in store.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • Selected for Oprah’s Summer Reading List in 2010
  • A 2009 Los Angeles Times Favorite for Fiction
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month in July 2009
  • A 2009 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Reviews

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  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ken | 2/19/2014

    " I did not enjoy these stories as much as reviewers did. They are all well told, and Meloy is certainly a deft writer, but by the 4th or 5th short story in this collection, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of where each story was heading within a few paragraphs. By the end of the collection, the accumulated inertia to start a new story and learn new characters and settings was almost overwhelming. The book left me exhausted but not exhilerated. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Terri | 2/18/2014

    " short stories that were a little too short. I especially liked the one that takes place in Montana, and the loneliness of the cowboy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katia | 2/8/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book as it was a fast read (post cable) and the stories were short but well written and engaging. I think she might be a bit of a man-hater? Someone please tell me if I am wrong. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 2/2/2014

    " The first story was the best (I just loved it), but it set me on a path of expectation that the rest of the book didn't meet. Even so, once I got over that, I really enjoyed the book (except for two of the stories), this writer, and what I would call the "negative space" in the stories. She gives the reader a lot of room to move around in, a nice contrast to the other short story writer was reading at the same time: Antonya Nelson. She's less of a control freak maybe, gentler in her approach, less concerned with how you read her... though in the end, she fairly brings you to your knees. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bea | 1/29/2014

    " These stories were all about love: marriages, affairs, divorces, etc. The first story was my least favorite but they get better as they go on. A nice collection of very interesting short stories, some with some twists, makes for good reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thaddeus | 1/24/2014

    " Believe the hype - it's good. So much achy longing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 1/20/2014

    " Stories of busted love, many of them set in Montana or thereabouts. The strongest is the lead-off, "Travis, B." Told from Chet's point of view, it also succeeds in telling us something of what it's like to be Beth, Chet's unlikely love interest. A heart-breaker of a line in the closing paragraph: "He had wanted practice, with girls, and now he had gotten it, but he wished it had felt more like practice." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 1/19/2014

    " Meloy's well-crafted short stories all center around a pivotal moment, a fork in the road. Her characters are authentic, and the tales glide effortlessly. Having said that, I don't know that any of these stories will necessarily stay with me for too long, so 3 stars it is. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb | 1/11/2014

    " Uneven collection of short stories, ranging from stellar to banal. All take place against the backdrop of Montana's big-sky country, lending an austere beauty to these mis-matched tales. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nomi | 1/7/2014

    " The first story is the best, about a Montanta ranch hand who has a crush on a young lawyer. The rest of the collection is very average-recycled relationship drama mostly set in Montana but the setting really is irrelevant to most of these other stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mjdrean | 12/17/2013

    " Savor this engrossing, bittersweet collection. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gail | 12/3/2013

    " Maile Meloy ascends to short-story Valhallah. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louise | 11/16/2013

    " At least it isn't poorly written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alex | 8/31/2013

    " Great writer and strong voice, though the theme of infidelity got stale. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lillian | 5/20/2013

    " I love this collection of short stories. Each quietly, and in distinctly different ways, is an example of the theme explained by the title. It fits well with how I often feel about life, in line with my astrological symbol Pisces: two fish swimming in opposite directions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lee | 4/23/2013

    " Good stories. Well written. Didn't really enjoy the book because the stories were all dark. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 5/9/2012

    " This is a fantastic book of short stories. Nothing that happens is expected, as is often the case in life. These stories ring true in a way that is unlike anything I've read for ages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mindy | 2/27/2012

    " This book was full of haunting short stories - it will leave you wanting more! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ken | 11/4/2011

    " I liked most of the stories in this collection, though I thought the first story in the book TRAVIS, B. was by far the most atmospheric. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Al | 7/15/2011

    " I really enjoyed this short story collection. I think she is a better short story writer than novelist. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 6/20/2011

    " I loved this. Just my kind of book. Short stories, kind of everyday situations, pretty prose. i am definitely going to put some of her other stuff on my list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Red | 5/12/2011

    " Compact, intimate, poignant stories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tonya | 5/10/2011

    " I don't remember reading this... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ctb | 5/7/2011

    " Some of these stick and stab; others slide away "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louise | 5/4/2011

    " At least it isn't poorly written.

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 j | 4/23/2011

    " I love a good short story and these are those. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 4/15/2011

    " Great characters! I did not want each short story to end.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dani | 4/15/2011

    " I liked some of the stories more than others. I liked the story named after the book title. Some of the others did not speak to me as much as other short store books I have read, but they were all well written and enjoyable to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 4/5/2011

    " Might be a new favorite author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 4/3/2011

    " There were some excellent short stories in here, but I also found the lives people were leading a little too lonely, troubled and dark. I guess that's the state of the world, but I wasn't in the mood for it. Not much redemption... If you're looking for excellent short stories, go for it. "

About the Author

Maile Meloy is the author of the novels Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, the short-story collections Half in Love and Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (named one of the 10 Best Books of 2009 by the New York Times Book Review), and a bestselling middle-grade trilogy. Her fiction has won the Paris Review‘s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she was shortlisted for the UK’s Orange Prize and has been chosen as one of Granta‘s Best Young American Novelists.

About the Narrators

Kirsten Potter has won several awards, including more than a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a three-time finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. Her work has been recognized by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and by AudioFile magazine, among many others. She graduated with highest honors from Boston University and has performed on stage and in film and television, including roles on Medium, Bones, and Judging Amy.

Bronson Pinchot, Audible’s Narrator of the Year for 2010, has won Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Awards, AudioFile Earphones Awards, Audible’s Book of the Year Award, and Audie Awards for severak audiobooks, including Matterhorn, Wise Blood, Occupied City, and The Learners. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale, he is an Emmy- and People’s Choice-nominated veteran of movies, television, and Broadway and West End shows. His performance of Malvolio in Twelfth Night was named the highlight of the entire two-year Kennedy Center Shakespeare Festival by the Washington Post. He attended the acting programs at Shakespeare & Company and Circle-in-the-Square, logged in well over 200 episodes of television, starred or costarred in a bouquet of films, plays, musicals, and Shakespeare on Broadway and in London, and developed a passion for Greek revival architecture.