The Brutal Language of Love: Stories

ISBN: 0375760334
ISBN 13: 9780375760334
By: Alicia Erian

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About this book

Alicia Erian, whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Zoetrope, and Nerve, casts aside traditional notions of right and wrong and conjures up situations that are at once familiar and unsettling. Her characters—flawed, brave, disarming, affectionate—inhabit the not-so-very-wide space between a good intention and a bad outcome. In “Alcatraz,” we meet a middle-school spelling champion who spends her afternoons taking baths with the boy next door. In “Almonds and Cherries,” a young woman turns an unexpectedly arousing bra-shopping experience into a short film, with ramifications for everyone around her. These surprising, provocative, and deeply resonant stories mark the emergence of a major new talent.

Reader's Thoughts


I liked this one, too...

George Ilsley

A very strong collection from a writer who manages to pull off a variety of distinctive voices. Erian's characters are slightly surreal and yet still compelling. It's funny and strange at the same time. All in all, a very strong collection.


I read this book while laying on the beach, and felt like it was the perfect book. A collection of stories that are a delightful insight on sexuality. This isn't erotica, but more or less short story's with complex characters and realistic scenarios. I really enjoyed it. This book is a quick and easy read.


My favorite stories include the title story, "Alcatraz," and "Almonds and Cherries."


much like 'towelhead', this book was brazen, graphic and uninhibited. sometimes painfully awkward, there was still a level of beauty in every story. some of them can really break your heart.


I agree with everyone else...quick read and kept my interest, but I wasn't upset when it was over. I finished this book on a 2 hour flight. Very forgettable characters and stories. I was really expecting much more from this book.


First off, I loved Towelhead. So much so that I was determined to read anything I can from this sensational writer. I'm glad to learn that this is Erian's first work, because Towelhead (her second work) is much, much better. It's not that the stories found in this book are bad, it's just that the characters seem so thin and forgettable that you're never compelled to give a damn about any of them. There weren't any standout pieces in this book to me. Wouldn't read again or recommend.


Alicia Erian might be better known for Towelhead...but this book of shorts are funny and quirky. The characters are believable. Erian writes with an assured voice and honesty that is refreshing as it is painful.


i thinks this book is awesome :)

Magda Gregorski

bunch of stories, very similar especially at the beginning of "towelhead", it was ok.


Alicia Erians stories are dark and sexy, full of pain and lust and the kind of relationships we're all secretly sorrow to be aware of. I loved her novel Towelhead, and have been reading her stories on forever, her heroins are filled with passion and despair but are never without hope.


After reading Towelhead and completing this collection of short stories, Alicia Erian is fast becoming my new favorite writer. Her writing style and the themes she tackles are very similar to my own writing, except my stories are usually from a gay POV.When I read a short story collection my favorite stories are usally the ones I remember when I'm finished. In this case, the two best stories for me were On the Occasion of my Ruination about a 19 year old girl who works in a mall at a Victoria's Secret type store. She's leaving for college in a month, is a virgin, and sets her sites on losing her virginity to the hunky guy who works the mall pizza joint and takes off his gloves before handling her food. However, things don't turn out the way that she hopes.And Still Life with Plaster about a girl and her brother who live with their dysfunctional grandparents and teenaged uncle.Two other stories that stood out but weren't as good as the above were When Animals Attack in which the "animals" in question are a brother and sister with Mom issues and the title story about a girl who works as a projectionist in a movie theater and has a weird relationship with her co-worker.Although the remainder of the stories are fairly weak, end abruptly or are just plain dull, the common thread is Erian's characters are fractured females who have a warped sense of love, sex, self-image and relationships. People that we all have known at some time in our lives or people we may have been ourselves at some point in our lives. I highly recommend this collection of stories but be warned, Alicia Erian places an unflinching eye on situations, circumstances, and people that may make some uncomfortable.Overall, an interesting collection of shorts by a remarkably talented writer.


Erian is aptly compared to Mary Gaitskill, with a dash of Raymond Carver thrown in (her stories have that vaguely unfinished feeling that Carver mined to death and eventually bored us with). Erian manages to be more engaging and varied than Carver as she explores the darker side of love like Gaitskill, and, at times, a bit like A.M. Homes. I couldn't rate this book more highly and it ranks as my favorite collection of stories for the year.


Quick read. Easy language. Fun and light with unique characters.


This book was a fun, quick read, but completely forgettable.

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