Boys and Girls Like You and Me
Aryn Kyle
“Sex Scenes From a Chain Bookstore”

“Sex Scenes from a Chain Bookstore” is from Aryn Kyle’s debut collection, Boys and Girls Like You and Me (Scribner).   Kyle’s award-winning first novel, The God of Animals (Scribner 2007) was a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick and was named by Amazon as the Number One Fiction Debut of 2007.  Kyle’s short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Best New American Voices, 2005, and elsewhere.


Publisher’s Weekly reviewed the collection:  “This sure-to-please collection by Kyle (The God of Animals) probes the frequently wrongheaded choices girls and young women make to feel happy and loved.”


Kyle said this about her piece:  This is my oldest short story – I wrote it when I was twenty-two, during my first semester of graduate school.  As an undergraduate, I’d been working on stories that were rather dreamy and meandering and filled with flowery descriptions of drowning girls and mental illness.  During my first MFA workshop, I felt terror-stricken by the differences I saw between my writing and that of my classmates, who were submitting gritty stories about strippers and drug addicts and Russians having sex on trains.


“Sex Scenes” was my first attempt at setting a story in the “real world.” But because I wasn’t terribly familiar with strip clubs or back alleys or the Trans-Siberian Railway, I set the story in a place I knew: a giant chain bookstore, similar to the one that employed me all through college.


It’s strange for me to look back at this story now, because I feel that it was written by such a different version of myself.  Reading over it is like looking back at an old school photo and thinking, “I can’t believe I used to wear my hair like that!” And yet, I can’t help noticing how many elements of the story have continued to evolve in my work over the years, how many of the characters, in various incarnations, continue to show up in my fiction to try and work through their issues.

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