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Ann Beattie arrived in New York young, observant and celebrated (as The New Yorker’s young fiction star) in one of the most compelling and creative eras of recent times. So does the protagonist of her intense new novella, Walks with Men.

It is 1980 in New York City, and Jane, a valedictorian fresh out of Harvard, strikes a deal with Neil, an intoxicating writer twenty years her senior. The two quickly become lovers, living together in a Chelsea brownstone, and Neil reveals the rules for a life well lived: If you take food home from a restaurant, don’t say it’s because you want leftovers for "the dog." Say that you want the bones for "a friend who does autopsies." If you can’t stand on your head (which is best), learn to do cartwheels. Have sex in airplane bathrooms. Wear only raincoats made in England. Neil’s certainties, Jane discovers, mask his deceptions. Her true education begins.

"One of our era’s most vital masters of the short form" (The Washington Post), Beattie brilliantly captures a time, a place and a style of engagement. Her voice is original and iconic.

Topics: Novella, New York City, Teacher Affair, Mistaken Love, and Marriage

Published: Scribner on Jun 8, 2010
ISBN: 9781439168707
List price: $7.99
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I once pretended to be a stringer for a local paper and wheedled my way into an interview with Ann Beattie an hour or so before a reading. I have always loved her short stories, and this short novel marks my return to her work after another of those inexplicable absences I mention from time to time.I must say this novella – barely over 100 pages – is quite a disappointment. It is a strange story, with odd characters, moving through life as if in a daze. The narrator, Jane, is an especially egregious violator. She never explains most of her decisions -- even her introspection at the end of the novel left this reader wholly dissatisfied.Jane lives on a farm with a musician/hippie after graduating from Harvard. She travels to New York City to receive an award and meets Neil, a Svengali of sorts. Neil wants to “teach” Jane to live in the big city and move about in his upper class circle. I will only add to this that Jane learns, and so does Neil. But a lot of unusual things happen along the way. I am going to have to put this one aside for a while. Let it percolate a bit, and come back later. The prose is vintage Beattie, so it is worth the read. 3 stars--Jim, 7/25/10read more
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I'm surprised that this novella has been getting bad reviews. I thought the writing was beautiful. If there is something readers aren't liking, I'm sure it's the characters. It's true, they aren't likable. But they also seem very real, and that's why I liked them.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A lot was said, but the story really didn't bring me along.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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I once pretended to be a stringer for a local paper and wheedled my way into an interview with Ann Beattie an hour or so before a reading. I have always loved her short stories, and this short novel marks my return to her work after another of those inexplicable absences I mention from time to time.I must say this novella – barely over 100 pages – is quite a disappointment. It is a strange story, with odd characters, moving through life as if in a daze. The narrator, Jane, is an especially egregious violator. She never explains most of her decisions -- even her introspection at the end of the novel left this reader wholly dissatisfied.Jane lives on a farm with a musician/hippie after graduating from Harvard. She travels to New York City to receive an award and meets Neil, a Svengali of sorts. Neil wants to “teach” Jane to live in the big city and move about in his upper class circle. I will only add to this that Jane learns, and so does Neil. But a lot of unusual things happen along the way. I am going to have to put this one aside for a while. Let it percolate a bit, and come back later. The prose is vintage Beattie, so it is worth the read. 3 stars--Jim, 7/25/10
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm surprised that this novella has been getting bad reviews. I thought the writing was beautiful. If there is something readers aren't liking, I'm sure it's the characters. It's true, they aren't likable. But they also seem very real, and that's why I liked them.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A lot was said, but the story really didn't bring me along.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)As regular readers know, although I don't make a habit of it, I do occasionally enjoy a well-crafted piece of short "literary" fiction, the kind of $20 novella-sized book that I'm usually railing against here; for example, check out the latest from lit veteran Ann Beattie, the '80s character drama Walks With Men, a literal novella which redeems itself by never pretending to be more than it is, an insightful and darkly comic look at manipulative male intellectuals and the smart yet stupid women who are both on to their tricks and fall for them anyway. And in fact, the best compliment I can pay this slim volume is that it feels an awful lot like an autobiographical tale, a case of Beattie perhaps shedding an old ghost from her own youth, although upon reflection I wonder now whether maybe the entire thing was instead made up out of whole cloth; and that's because Beattie (a multiple recipient of the O. Henry citation for short fiction) has a way of getting under the skin of all the characters seen here, delivering an ultra-realistic, ultra-subtle story of a young hipster in early-'80s lower Manhattan and the platitude-spouting writer twenty years her senior who she quickly ends up with, then breaks up with, then ends up with again. Along the way, then, no one is really spared, with Beattie giving us deeply complex look at both these people plus the various friends and other lovers in their lives, showing us nakedly both the strengths and weaknesses of them all, and positing that a big reason this flawed yet otherwise good woman puts up with the shenanigans of this sorta dicklike poseur is that she realizes she's not exactly a prize catch either. It's a charming if not world-weary book that I really kinda fell in love with by the end, the rare case of a quick read that is well worth its full cover price.Out of 10: 9.2
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Didn't read. A novella, which seemed disjointed, so I didn't read it.
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good book
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