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Extended Audio Sample Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, by Maile Meloy Click for printable size audiobook cover
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) Author: Maile Meloy Narrator: Kirsten Potter, Bronson Pinchot Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by Becky Fowler | 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. "

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