"Savvy stories in ‘Kissing List’"

Lauren Gallagher
The SF Examiner

Author Stephanie Reents has quite a résumé. But the Rhodes Scholar, two-time Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference participant and Stegner Fellow also appreciates her non-academic years.

“One thing I’m really happy about is that I didn’t go to graduate school until I was 29,” says Reents, who reads from her debut “The Kissing List” at The Booksmith on Wednesday.

“I had a good five-year chunk of being in the real world,” says Reents, who lives and teaches in Rhode Island. “That was really good for my writing.”

If “The Kissing List” is anything to go by, Reents made the right decision. The book, an engrossing collection of linked stories about women in their tumultuous 20s, covers first dates, temp jobs, awkward moments, sexual tension, bad bosses, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends. 

“The decade after you graduate from college is a really hard time,” Reents says. “You think you’re grown up, but you’re still figuring out who you are and what you want to do. It’s not a terrible time, but it’s a complicated time.”

Reents’ stories are witty and packed with sharp, irreverent dialogue. With rhythm and verve unusual in most story collections, conversations in “The Kissing List” turn into flesh and blood. 

The realism hasn’t gone unnoticed. In an interview on public access cable, Reents faced a woman in her 70s who had a hard time digesting the racy plots, including a tale called “Little Porn Story.”

“She was utterly scandalized by the book,” Reents says. “She was a really sweet, goodhearted person who was concerned for young women today. But the sexual revolution happened, and there were repercussions. I tried to capture the trials and tribulations of having so many choices, the perils and pleasures.”

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner