paper • 200 pages • 17.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-37-6

Victoria Redel has been awarded the 2014 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Prose for Make Me Do Things

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Make Me Do Things

Victoria Redel

In eleven original, surprising and deliciously dark stories, award-winning author Victoria Redel moves effortlessly between men’s and women’s perspectives as they explore marriage, divorce and parenthood. A newly divorced mother stumbles her way back into single life. A young man and his girlfriend clean out his dead mother’s overstuffed home. A woman struggles to hide her affair from a doting husband and inquisitive daughter. A man descends into a drug-fueled dream as he imagines losing his pregnant wife to a historical, nineteenth century figure.

Redel indelibly captures the ways we love, the ways we yearn and the ways we sabotage each. Throughout the collection, children struggle to make sense of the adult world’s uncertainties as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, find themselves pressed up against their own limits, “the exaltations and treasons of one’s own mothy heart.” Redel has again done what Grace Paley said of Redel’s first collection, “Only a poet could have written this prose. Only a storyteller could keep a reader turning these pages so greedily.”
From “Ahoy,” a story from Make Me Do Things:

This is the story of the year my wife became the sea captain’s wife and carried his child, a child that is by all rights mine.

My wife is wildly, crazily, ridiculously, fucked-uppedly beautiful.


It’s insane but she’s almost more beautiful in the bonnet and linen-spun gown she walks through town wearing on her way to and from the Captain’s house.

I can’t imagine how this must sound.

If you’re married, I’m counting on you having at least come to the minor revelation of how little we know inside another marriage. And maybe, wherever you are in your own marriage–crossing a rainy parking lot on your way to the office or coming at night to your front door–with a sharp, embarrassed flash or a longing you can’t quite name, you’ve wondered what you really know about the house you’re about to enter, about your own marriage?

Praise by Claire Messud
Praise by Sam Lipsyte
Praise by William Kennedy
Praise by Carolyn Alessio from Booklist
Praise from Publishers Weekly
Praise by Richard Farrell from Numero Cinq
Praise from Jacqueline Kolosov from the Kenyon Review

“Wise, sly, sexy, always surprising, Victoria Redel’s wonderful stories are a joy. This, this is life!” — Claire Messud

Make Me Do Things is another testament to Victoria Redel’s great gift for inhabiting hearts and delivering worlds. Her prose is poetic, precise, witty, devastating. These stories remind us of what fiction can do in the hands of the fearless.” — Sam Lipsyte

“The stories in Make Me Do Things zing along with great fluency and wit, unexpected time leaps, and oblique understatement, generating relentless surprise. The characters are often parents or lovers with young children, mostly hip, sometimes oblivious, who think in the argot of right now—baffled fathers, women with baby fever, or a catastrophic lover, or perverse with child love. The children struggle with the mystery, sometimes the savagery, of the adult world, and everybody takes lessons in fear. Victoria Redel is a wonderfully talented writer whose work has the fascination of what is original.” — William Kennedy

“Poet and novelist Redel knows how to freeze those serene moments that often come just before disaster. In this collection of short prose, protagonists struggle to balance a zeal for adventure with reasonable caution. The narrators are often parents in or nearing middle age who are startled by troubling signs in their children. Dan, the callow narrator in ‘Red Rooster,’ preens through much of the story about his new girlfriend and ability to coparent successfully with his ex-wife. After a chaotic outing with his son and girlfriend’s family, however, Dan hears desperation in his son’s voice and feels ‘that he was seeing for the first time just how reckless the last couple years had been. He couldn’t count how many times he’d claimed that the whole damaging-cost-on-the-kid argument was way overrated.’ In ‘On Earth,’ a married mother suddenly realizes that her eccentric, survivalist-leaning lover may have an unhealthy interest in her daughter…. ” — Carolyn Alessio, Booklist

“Morally ambivalent characters contend with romantic relationships, raising children, and the dark side of human nature in Redel’s (The Border of Truth) second collection of stories. Beginning with ‘You Look Like You Do,’ a divorced mother’s contemplation of sexual fantasies, Redel’s stories examine children, spouses, and parents working through manifestations of their lesser selves. In ‘Stuff,’ a grieving son is reluctant to parse his dead mother’s things; in ‘On Earth,’ a young mother has an affair while her doting husband and daughter remain clueless; in ‘Ahoy,’ a substance-abusing father-to-be emotionally abandons his wife. Often referred to by their station—’the wife,’ ‘the husband,’ ‘the lover’—Redel’s characters appear as reflections of broader archetypes, and succinct, direct language reveals through them the ethical concerns of adulthood: the ‘private world’ of marriage, the ‘reckless’ nature of divorce, the ‘alternating hilarity and concern’ of parenthood. Each story opens a small window onto the unspoken thoughts and desires of the characters: their underbelly of wants and desires and honest opinions. Even those stories absent a moral defector—including ‘Trust Me,’ whose central character accepts a job reading aloud to a blind painter—explore relatively victimless vices like self-absorption, sanctimony, and resentment. Indeed, for all their hapless villainy, Redel’s characters betray her own nuanced understanding of how we, as people, really are. (Oct.)” — Publishers Weekly

“It’s impossible to nail down Redel’s style. Each of these eleven stories is uniquely crafted, perhaps because she approaches them with a protean lens, focusing attention down on the particular details of narrative and syntax, so that the result is clarity of intention and meaning. As a writer, she is willing to let her images guide her, willing to follow her sentences and characters into whatever strange and twisted paths they seem destined to trod.” Read the full review.

“The eleven stories in Make Me Do Things all embody Redel’s ‘singular kind of voice,’ one I’d call fearless, sometimes brash, but compassionate, too. Like two other contemporary masters of the short story, Antonya Nelson and Amy Bloom, Redel has a gift for dialogue and for recreating the distinct rhythms of individual lives.” Read the full review.