Today is not your day

notyourday-final

Today Is Not Your Day
By Marian Thurm

With her fourth collection, acclaimed short story writer Marian Thurm brings her darkly comic sense of humor to a memorable set of new characters—every one of whom is brought to vivid life under her sharply observant but always compassionate gaze.

A divorcée is hit on by her philandering ex whose new wife is stricken with cancer. An untimely shattered knee complicates a man’s decision to dump his fiancée. A grieving widow is burdened by her daughter’s relationship troubles. A teenaged cancer survivor convinces her friends to go on a quest in search of her older crush. A Jewish man is shocked by his Catholic girlfriend’s reaction to visiting Auschwitz. Today is Not Your Day is Thurm at her best, capturing those breathtaking moments where life upends but also becomes painfully clear.

ALSO BY MARIAN THURM

Floating (Stories)
Walking Distance
These Things Happen (Stories)
Henry in Love
The Way We Live Now
The Clairvoyant
What’s Come Over You? (Stories)

UNDER THE NAME LUCY JACKSON
Posh
Slicker

Reviews

Kirkus (starred review)

Eleven wry, elegant stories, à la Lorrie Moore and Amy Bloom, address the sometimes-brutal stupidities of modern life.

“Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but the fact is that when my ex-husband’s hot young wife fell ill recently, I went over there the day Miranda was released from the hospital and cooked them an excellent dinner.” “What Went On” is the first story in Thurm’s (What’s Come Over You?, 2001, etc.) long-awaited new collection, again chronicling the frustrations and heartbreaks of contemporary domestic arrangements with a brilliantly light touch. Thurm hits the funny/sad spot every time, whether the subject is bereavement, divorce, betrayal, or some other form of abandonment. Her protagonists must tolerate annoying intimates ranging from a grown child who won’t read her mother’s one published novel to a girlfriend who thinks the main problem at Auschwitz is that they charge extra for ketchup at the snack bar. The title story details the plight of a woman named Lauren who falls and shatters her kneecap while running for a cigarette immediately after having been informed by her fiance that he no longer loves her. Since he is such a fine, good-hearted person, he delays kicking her out of the apartment until after her recovery, a kindness that turns out to be a form of torture. The story’s title refers to a slogan Lauren remembers seeing on a T-shirt in the subway: I CAN ONLY BE NICE TO ONE PERSON A DAY AND TODAY IS NOT YOUR DAY. This seems to express the worldview of not just the rude nurse’s aide who dismisses Lauren’s pain and leaves her sitting on a bedpan for 20 minutes, but of any number of the hilariously self-absorbed characters who elbow their ways through this charmingly sad book.

Life really is this difficult and annoying; stories like these make it more bearable.

Booklist (starred review)

Ordinary people in an ordinary world go beyond the ordinary in Thurm’s short fiction, which somehow distills the inner lives of her characters into remarkably few words. In these 11 stories, bonds between individuals sometimes strengthen, even those between ex-spouses, but also are likely to fray or dissolve. In the title story, Lauren is so distraught when her fiancé, Alex, breaks up with her, claiming that they aren’t soul mates, that she runs and falls, breaking her kneecap, after which he stays by her side as a perfect caregiver to the inevitable conclusion. A teenager with a crush on the male model who tutored her through her successful cancer treatment learns disillusionment in “Great Jones Street,” and in “Kosta,” a woman discovers that her new lover will opt out of her birthday celebration rather than pay to park. And sometimes Thurm startles: a man picks up what he thinks is his stepson’s toy lizard in “MIA,” and a recently widowed woman dissolves in laughter when she’s kicked out of her bereavement group in “Loved One.” With its concise and insightful prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, this is a collection to savor.

— Michele Leber

Endorsements

“Combine Grace Paley’s cockeyed lyricism and generosity toward her characters with Laurie Colwin’s blissful optimism, add Marian Thurm’s own hard-won wisdom—about how we human beings live, love, lose, and survive our grief—and you have the entirely captivating and deeply moving stories in Today Is Not Your Day.”

—EILEEN POLLACK, author of Breaking and Entering

“These are big-hearted, thoughtful stories of the triumphs and disappointments of everyday life. Marian Thurm’s characters navigate the complexities of love, marriage, and family life with humor and hard-earned wisdom, their desires and hidden longings true to the mysteries within each of us.”

—DAPHNE KALOTAY, author of Russian Winter and Sight Reading