Review: This Cake is For the Party

This Cake is For the Party

This Cake is For the Party
By Sarah Selecky
(St. Martin’s Griffin, Paperback, 9781250011428, November 2012, 240pp.)

The Short of It:

Never has such an unassuming collection of stories held my attention from beginning to end.

The Rest of It:

I love quiet stories and if they center around relationships, even better. From the very first page, I found myself falling right into this book. You know that feeling? That feeling where everything around you stands still and all you can focus on is the book in front of you? That is the feeling I had while reading these stories. When this book was in my hands, nothing else seemed to matter.

There are ten stories in this collection, all ranging in tone but clearly the party in question is nowhere to be found. In Throwing Cotton, we meet Anna and Sanderson and their friends Flip and Shona as they meet-up at a lake cottage for a little holiday. As Anna and Sanderson head into the next phase of their marriage, that of children, it becomes apparent that Anna has doubts. What should be a glorious time, now suddenly becomes something else. In Standing Up for Janey, Bonnie throws a dinner party to celebrate the engagement of her best friend Janey. Shortly before the party, Janey admits to Bonnie that she’s recently cheated on Milt. With this knowledge, Bonnie is forced to host as if nothing is amiss. What should be tragic tale, somehow ends up being funny in Selecky’s hands.

What these stories have in common is that these people are normal, functioning adults dealing with everyday problems. Selecky’s ability to take everyday objects or situations and make them unique is inspiring to say the least. She writes, like my brain thinks. Quiet observations not always spoken or shared out loud.

I savored each and every story in the collection and when I reached the end, I felt compelled to go right back and read them again.

An interesting little tidbit for you. The story that gives this collection its name was not included in the collection itself! This Cake is for the Party was a story that Selecky had written before this collection even came to be. It was short, only five pages long. It was actually the basis for another story which happens to be in the book. However, when this collection was put together, including it would have meant that it was the only linked story in the collection and Selecky felt that it put too much pressure on one of the characters so it was left out. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the story and although I loved it, I see why it was not included. Interesting, huh?

Because I was so impressed with the writing as a whole and totally fell head over heels for the collection, I went to Selecky’s website and signed up for her Little Bird writing prompts. These prompts are offered in conjunction with her Little Bird Writing Contest. Each day, a writing prompt arrives in my inbox and I take ten minutes of every morning to write a response. I’m not sure I will ever submit anything to the contest, but for now I am enjoying the prompts. If you find yourself struggling to write creatively and just don’t have the time, you might want to try these prompts. Ten minutes a day. That’s it. Even I can do that and who knows? Maybe one day I will have a story as good as one of the ones in the book!

As you can probably guess, I am still thinking about these stories and can’t seem to stop talking about them. If you get the opportunity to pick up a copy, you won’t be sorry.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

23 thoughts on “Review: This Cake is For the Party”

  1. I love short stories and am always looking for new authors, so this book sounds right up my alley. Plus, you made them sound so bloody good! I just love how engrossed you were with the book – sounds spellbinding 🙂 I’m definitely adding this one to my TBR list and I’m definitely signing up for those writing prompts – I’ve been wanting to focus more on my writing and this sounds like it will help. And, I say enter one of those contests – you never know 😉

    1. I had the book sitting on my desk. A colleague picked it up. Started to read a page and then could not stop. I loaned him the book. The writing prompts are interesting. She throws a zinger in there every now and then. I am up to ten so far and have been enjoying them.

  2. Sounds wonderful. You’ve made me move this from TBR wish list to my library request list!
    (how could I get a copy of the “root” story?)

  3. I’m enjoying short stories more and more these days and this sounds like a wonderful collection. I find it interesting that the title story didn’t make the cut.

  4. Ti, this collection does sound amazing, and like something that I would like to read. I also love that the author has writing prompts on her website, and that is just the kind of thing I am looking for. Fantastic review of what appears to be a magnificent collection!

  5. This is just about the best darned review I’ve read lately. I love short stories, but it can be hard to find good contemporary ones. Thanks for highlighting this and for including the other information. Really interesting.

  6. I really like short stories, but there is a lot of pressure to deliver, and sometimes they don’t. Much tougher to write them than a full-length novel I think. And I am glad you shared the bit of trivia because it would have driven me crazy wondering what the significance of the title was.

  7. I echo Patty…wow. I’ve struggled with short story collections before but this might just be the one to turn me into a believer.

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