My stepson’s mother, my husband’s ex-wife, died in June. She was 60.

She was diagnosed with uterine wall cancer last fall, and a mere seven months later she was in a hospice unit in an Albany hospital, less than an hour’s drive from the home my husband and I have made with my stepson and our two other children for the last 25 years. My husband and son drove there every day the week before she died to join her second husband, her sister, her brothers, her mother, her coworkers, and her friends in the hospice room too small for all it had to contain. I offered gestures, inadequate and sincere, kissing them goodbye in the mornings, making sure dinner was ready when they got back, dim with grief. Between, I tried to keep life as usual going for our two other children, and I thought about the strange intimacy of birth mothers and stepmothers, first and second wives. What did I owe? What could I offer?

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Shelf Awareness review for Kiss Me Someone



Ms. Magazine Review for Kiss Me Someone

Shepard’s unapologetically flawed characters make this collection an honest portrayal of womanhood,” Ms. Magazine (Read more here)

Bookriot’s “14 Upcoming Short Story Collections to Watch For”

Make It Quick: 14 Upcoming Short Story Collections to Watch For

Booklist review for Kiss Me Someone

After several novels, Shepard (The Celestials, 2013) offers her first short-story collection. Her mostly female characters run the gamut from the quintessential “mean girl” cliques in “Popular Girls” to the woman, married for 58 years to a man now suffering from dementia, who is “worn out by the gap between what she’d hoped for and what she’d gotten.” Each character, including the Chinese American girl forced by her self-obsessed mother to spend a summer with her grandmother in Szechuan, and the young woman suffering six miscarriages, only to lose the seventh baby a mere eight days before her due date, earns our sympathy or at least our empathy. Shepard is so perceptive, we feel as if we are part of the scene ourselves, such as when the mother of the stillborn baby develops the pictures she took just after her birth, watching in the darkroom as her daughter seems to come to life. These stories, and the characters that inhabit them, are so vivid, they will surely stay with readers for a good long while.

— Deborah Donovan for Booklist

Reviews for Kiss Me Someone

Full New York Times Review

“In this captivating collection of stories, Karen Shepard turns her ever-insightful eye on women, and in her gaze is both love and a startling clarity. Readers of all kinds will find much to relish in this voice–from its storytelling surprises to the sharp observations it extends, over and over, to us on the other side of the page.”
Aimee Bender

“There is such a wondrous variety in these highly accomplished stories. They are rich with invention, with acute (sometimes alarming) awareness, dazzling insight, and pure, word virtuosity.”
Richard Ford

“Women bear the dark consequences of infidelity, lies, and other betrayals.”
Kirkus (Read more here)

“This concise, disturbing collection by Shepard (The Celestials) covers several decades of the author’s work, often focusing on troubling experiences of women in the northeastern United States.”
Publisher’s Weekly (Read more here)

“At first glance, the women of Karen Shepard’s Kiss Me Someone seem linked by a sisterhood of the execrable.”
The Arkansas International (Read more here)

BuzzFeed’s list of “28 Exciting Books You Need to Read This Fall,” (Read more here)

Book Riot‘s Make it Quick:14 Upcoming Short Story Collections to Watch For (Read more here)

“These stories, and the characters that inhabit them, are so vivid, they will surely stay with readers for a good long while,”
-Booklist (Read more here)

“Shepard’s unapologetically flawed characters make this collection an honest portrayal of womanhood,”
-Ms. Magazine (Read more here)

“Shepard’s writing is breathtaking in its ability to capture minor but revelatory personal insights. With her crisp prose and sharp observations, she views characters with devastating and unflinching clarity.”
– Shelf Awareness for Readers (Read more here)

“When I closed this brash and unapologetic collection, I re-opened it to start again from the beginning.”
– Read It Forward

Kiss Me Someone cries the inimitable Karen Shepard.”
-Vanity Fair (Read more here)

“She is unflinching in her depictions of self-destructive choices and betrayal as well as friendship and love.”
-O Magazine (Read more here)

Now What Do We Do?

Now What Do We Do?” (Good Housekeeping-February 2015)

The phone rang. It was my daughter. “Mom,” she said, her voice wavering, “can you come get me?”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Cole and I are finished,” she said. She started crying.

My heart broke for her. They’d been dating for over a year. He was her best friend. They recited Monty Python sketches to each other. When they made each other laugh, it was like dolphins having a party. They were 11. They met each other when they were younger in a kids party at Jumpers Jungle Family Fun Center.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said. I told her I was on my way.

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Dragon Ladies

Dragon ladies” ( 12, 2013)

My grandmother died last November at ninety-six. I hadn’t seen her in thirteen years. The funeral was in Switzerland, where she’d lived for decades, and I went only because my mother asked me to. Twice.

My mother was nervous. She doesn’t like public-speaking in general, and I imagine the emotional stakes of this situation were high. She had had a complicated relationship with her mother. Standing in the chilly chapel, she turned to me and whispered, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

“You’ll be fine,” I said. “Just remember what an asshole she was.”

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Join Jim Shepard on tour in 2015

Odyssey Books — SOUTH HADLEY, MA
Reading with Robin McLean
Thursday, May 14

Harvard Bookstore — CAMBRIDGE, MA
Friday, May 15

Newtonville Books — NEWTON, MA
In Conversation w/ Amy Hempel
Saturday, May 16

Peck’s Plate (with Greenlight Bookstore) — BROOKLYN, NY
Dinner with Jim Shepard
Sunday, May 17

Franklin Park Reading Series (with Electric Literature) — BROOKLYN, NY
Monday, May 18

Dallas Museum of Art — DALLAS,TX
Anthony Doerr and Jim Shepard: Compassion and Catastrophe
Tuesday, May 19

Brazos Bookstore — HOUSTON, TX
Wednesday, May 20

Community Bookstore (with Brooklyn Public Library) — BROOKLYN, NY
In Conversation with Joshua Ferris
Thursday, May 21

3S Artspace (with RiverRun Bookstore) — PORTSMOUTH, NH
A Conversation with Jim Shepard
Friday, May 22

The Free Library of Philadelphia — PHILADELPHIA, PA
In Conversation with Daniel Torday
Thursday, May 28

Politics And Prose — WASHINGTON, DC
Tuesday, June 2

Books & Books — MIAMI, FL
Wednesday, June 3

McNally Jackson — NEW YORK, NY
In Conversation with Gary Fisketjon
Thursday, June 4

Bay Area Book Festival — SAN FRANCISCO, CA
In Conversation with Ron Hansen
Sunday, June 7

Vroman’s Bookstore — LOS ANGELES, CA
Thursday, June 11

Powell’s Books — PORTLAND, OR
Friday, June 12

Copperfield’s — SANTA ROSA, CA
Afternoon Literary Lunch
Saturday, June 13

The Booksmith — SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Saturday, June 13

Book Passage — CORTE MADERA, CA
Sunday, June 14

Kepler’s — MENLO PARK, CA
Monday, June 15

Village Books — BELLINGHAM, WA
Tuesday, June 16

Elliott Bay Book Company (with Seattle Public Library) — SEATTLE, WA
In Conversation with…
Wednesday, June 17

Boswell Book Company ( with the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies)— MILWAUKEE, WI
Lunchtime Reading/Q+A/Signing
Thursday, June 18

Open Books — CHICAGO, IL
Friday, June 19

Cuyahoga Public Library (with the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and Mandel Jewish Community Center) — CLEVELAND, OHIO
Tuesday, June 23

Lemuria Books — JACKSON, MS
Wednesday, June 24

Square Books — OXFORD, MS
Thursday, June 25

Parnassus Books — NASHVILLE, TN
In Conversation with Gary Fisketjon
Friday, June 26

A video interview with Karen Shepard

Watch an interview with the author of The Celestials: A Novel and hear about her fourth novel and the first one that is historically based.

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