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What It Means to Love You [Hardcover]

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Item description for What It Means to Love You by Stephen Elliott...

What It Means to Love You by Stephen Elliott

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Item Specifications...

Pages   145
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.9" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2002
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561184  
ISBN13  9781931561181  

Availability  0 units.

More About Stephen Elliott

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephen Elliott is the author of four novels, including A Life Without Consequences and What It Means To Love You.

His new novel will be co-published by MacAdam/Cage and McSweeney's in February 2003. His writing appears regularly in GQ, McSweeney's, and The Sun. He is the Marshall McCall Lecturer at Stanford University.

His writing can be found at

Stephen Elliott currently resides in San Francisco.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Comics & Graphic Novels > General
2Books > Subjects > Comics & Graphic Novels > Graphic Novels > General
3Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Relationships > Love & Romance
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States

Reviews - What do customers think about What It Means to Love You?

Jagged and angry  Apr 10, 2003
The place: Halsted Street, Chicago. The people: Anthony, 34, a stripper. Lance, 27, also a stripper. And Brooke, Lance's 17-year-old girlfriend, a call girl. Both men appear on brightly lit stages at night, battling their fleeting youth while struggling to survive. Lance has been in prison (and he's a little bit mad). Lance has killed (see the blue teardrops tattooed under his eye). Anthony is also violent, but in a more subtle, internal way. As for Brooke ... she's a runaway but she still looks like the little girl she is (perhaps that's why she tries returning home). Although for a time the characters remain strangely detached from everything -- including, it often seems, each other -- as the story progresses they become more and more tangled, their relationship resulting in an ending as gritty as it is horrible.

Lance is at one point said to be "jagged and angry," and WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE YOU could easily be described the same way. Stephen Elliott, a former male stripper writing about being a male stripper, is devastatingly accurate without stooping to sensationalism, creating (as in his earlier novel, A LIFE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES) a story all too close to so many autobiographies of former foster children and street kids. This book is relentlessly dark, written in short, choppy sentences -- harsh, yet undeniably insightful. Perhaps the best paragraph comes when Brooke has finally succeeded in seducing her father: "The flowers watch the stuffed animals and the dresser watches the walls." While the style does grow monotonous (it could in no way be called "flowing"), it is also heavily loaded and very easy to read. I had some trouble deciding between four and five stars, but finally had to opt for four because, brilliant as this story is, the ending is still predictable.

Hard, bitter, angry, heartbreaking -- WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE YOU is a solidly realistic account of inner city violence and despair from one of my favorite emerging authors.

Forceful, Unrepentant  Feb 26, 2003
Steve is an old buddy of mine, and I write this having known the origins of some of his stories, a bit jaded. The plot has been described above, and that's good enough to go with. I'll add that his take and insider's view on Chicago's seedy underbelly is absolutely riveting, a Bukowski life told Mike Royko-esque (see "Boss").

Steve manages to get more out of his stories than most other authors I've read. WIMTLY is a book about action, things that happen, and it lets you draw your own conclusions. There are moments where you'd wish for more, but as you proceed through the book you see you're getting more, just not in the way you thought you'd see it. This book was--for me--easy to read, and difficult to put down. I bought it `cause I knew some of the stories ahead of time, and because I knew the author. I left the book feeling like I would have picked this up anyway, had I but known.

Steve gets into things you'd heard about somewhere but never had the guts or wherewithal to try yourself, takes you to the edge of that thing, and most often creeps right up into it, showing you the insider's view of it. Guts laid bare. Ups and downs and not time enough to digest it all. His characters fight for freedom from ennui, freedom from ugliness, and freedom from reality. And they don't shame themselves away from these pursuits.

A good piece of work. A fascinating story.

What It Means To Buy This Book  Oct 31, 2002
Out of the gates, I did not want to like this book. I'd paused reading another book to walk through the concrete gardens of WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE YOU and I was unhappy. It's not like Elliott writes happy books or anything, don't get me wrong, I knew what I was getting myself into. It's just I drifted off the cheeky first person affection of the previous novel and landed in a scratchy, third-person, wool sweater: tight, hot, and digging into my skin. Then on page 9, it happens: "And sometimes just missing is worse than never having a chance at all." And that's how it is with Elliott. You're standing there cursing the wool sweater when the grey skies start dumping snow and everyone else shivers while you find wool is sometimes the only thing.

WIMTLY is the tale of three people whose lives intersect on the underside of Chicago's belly. While it stretches wide to cover all three characters, the true focus is Anthony, a stripper and cross section for the other two characters. To say anything more about the plot is just silly.

Elliott writes characters who never achieve redemption or garner sympathy but somehow emerge pristine and developed, saved by their trueness to form. If you've ever read a book and found somewhere mid-press a character doing or saying something stilted, you know what I'm talking about. This just never happens in WIMTLY. At those pivotal moments where melodrama could wash the color out of rainbow, Elliott's characters do and say only what people in such situations would, no matter how unpopular.

I liked Elliott's other books but neither of them have the maturity and poise of this novel. And if you don't want to read it for any other reason read it for this one, Elliott does this thing. There's no word for it. You won't find it chipping off shorts in a Lit class. He pares things down to a wicked core and it feels like everything could end right there and it would be complete. It's just good writing and there is a lot less of that than you might think given all the yahoos that make the shelves these days. He does this:

"You're not getting old, Anthony thinks. You're a crack whore. Crack whores are only two ages, alive and dead."

And he does this:

"Once you've given something for nothing you can never ask for as much again."

Every time you turn around it's just that solid. And that's what it means to love this novel anyway.

Strippers Find Love & Meaning in the Gritty Streets  Oct 28, 2002
This is a story of two handsome male strippers in love with the same beautiful teen prostitute, and how they rise above their gritty lives to find something new, better, and more meaningful, eventually turning their backs on the hustling life. <

Stephen Elliott is a winner of the $54,000 Stegner Prize and a writer-in-residence at Stanford University. He is Dosteovski, Victor Hugo, Francois Villon, James T. Farrell, and Maxim Gorky all rolled up together. WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE YOU is his fourth book and his best. With each book the escalation of his talent is exponential and impossible to explain in the normal terms of literary progression. In times to come people will marvel that such a writer--and such a man-- existed in our age. He is only 30 years old.


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