Oregon Book Awards finalist
Lee Montgomery’s surprising stories capture moments in women’s lives when, pushed to the edge, they teeter between the complete bewilderment of loss and the lurking possibility of found. These are not stories about diets, designer jeans, and bad boyfriends; these are stories that dismantle the fabric of convention to reveal the raw interior worlds of women who have come of age on the heels of Betty Crocker and in the hem of Betty Friedan.
Montgomery’s characters blow drugs and boys, advise friends who are dying of aids about pennies in penny loafers, write letters to Caroline Kennedy, and fall in love with movie stars. Some lose themselves to ambivalence while contemplating motherhood; others ﬁnd themselves soothed when, after hearing of the sudden death of a dear friend, they seduce a stranger.
In the story “We Americans,” a woman abandoned by her husband grows so vulnerable, she internalizes tv news tragedies by developing hives in the shapes of foreign countries. In the title story, Hannah, a speed freak working the graveyard shift in a nursing home, falls in love with a quadriplegic who, void of feeling in his limbs, feels things that Hannah cannot. In “Avalanche,” an editor to movie stars in Beverly Hills struggles with how to reconcile her own story with the fairy-tale endings of celebrity culture.
Tender, poignant, and at times hilarious, the women in Whose World Is This? turn common notions of love, compassion, and tradition upside down as they show us how vulnerability, although dangerous, is what makes life astonishingly beautiful and reality strangely unreal.
“Gutsy, unflinchingly honest, and full of raw beauty, these stories navigate the troubled terrain of abandonment, addiction, betrayal, and hard-edged love.”—Ann Cummins, author, Red Ant House and Yellowcake
“These edgy stories live and breathe in the space between a woman and her body, a world which Lee Montgomery offers with sharp insight. The gap hurts—and glows—the way certain lives do, as we sabotage ourselves and then shoulder the work toward redemption. Whose World Is This? is a terrific collection.”—Ron Carlson, author, A Kind of Flying and Five Skies
“Lee Montgomery writes bleakly funny stories that gouge the veneer of the ordinary to show what really powers a day, a decision, a life. Her characters seem to say, ‘You want generosity of spirit? I’LL show you generosity of SPIRIT.’ The title story with its Denis Johnson quality is a stunner—a drugged-out young woman falls for a handsome man she takes care of in a nursing home—filled with startling effects. Other characters recount their meager brushes with greatness (with Caroline Kennedy’s jeans, with the brother of the biggest pop star in the world). Montgomery intensifies out-of-control lives until, against the odds, they make a kind of sense.”—Amy Hempel, author, The Collected Stories
“Lee Montgomery can make us laugh even while she breaks our hearts. Whose World Is This? is a ﬁerce, witty, beautifully written collection.”—Margot Livesey, author, Eva Moves the Furniture and Banishing Verona