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The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

25th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Foreword by Nick Hornby
Paperback
$18.00 US
0"W x 0"H x 0"D   | 11 oz | 24 per carton
On sale Jun 04, 2024 | 272 Pages | 978-0-14-313815-0
The New York Times bestselling classic of a young woman’s journey in work, love, and life
 
“In this swinging, funny, and tender study of contemporary relationships, Bank refutes once and for all the popular notions of neurotic thirtysomething women.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“Truly poignant.” —Time
 
Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, relationships, and the treacherous waters of the workplace. Soon Jane is swept off her feet by an older man and into a Fitzgeraldesque whirl of cocktail parties, country houses, and rules that were made to be broken, but comes to realize that it’s a world where the stakes are much too high for comfort. With an unforgettable comic touch, Bank skillfully teases out universal issues, puts a clever new spin on the mating dance, and captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to come of age as a young woman.
“Charming and funny.”
—The New York Times

“As hilarious as Girls’ Guide is, there’s a wise, serious core here.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Bank draws exquisite portraits of loneliness, and can do it in a sentence.”
Newsweek

“A sexy, pour-your-heart-out, champagne tingle of a read—thoughtful, wise, and tell-all honest. Bank’s is a voice that you’ll remember for years to come.”
Cosmopolitan

“Bank writes like John Cheever, but funnier.”
—Los Angeles Times
 
“Believe the hype: Jane’s touching (but unsentimental) career and love trials ring true.”
—Glamour
 
“Melissa Bank accomplishes that hardest of simple things: She shows life as it is—and makes it readable.”
The Washington Post
 
“It is, for me, a near-perfect book, one that I have pressed into the hands of several female friends and recommended on lists both solicited and not. From its pages spill lightly scented wit and wisdom: How to be, how to see, how to cope. It is easily the most influential book of my third decade, and every time I reread it – or sections of it, at least – I am struck again by its neatness and completeness.”
—Bim Adewunmi, BuzzFeed




“Writing literature that mixes comedy and tragedy in the proper amounts is not an easy task. Only a handful of contemporary writers (Joseph Heller, Ann Tyler, and John Irving come to mind) can do it with any success. Whether dealing with serious issues or mundane, Bank proves that she has what it takes to stand in such august company.”
The Denver Post
 
“Crafted by a gifted writer, a descendant from the school of restraint whose grandfather is Hemingway and whose father is the early Raymond Carver. The presiding mother figure is Lily Tomlin.”
—The News and Observer
 
“Only a few authors have successfully blended the compressed nature of short prose with the novel’s greater panorama of character. Melissa Bank brings similar energy and style to her new book.”
—Chicago Tribune

“I read the first chapter and thought, ‘Wait, I know this girl.’ By the second, I realized she was my friend. She did all the things that good friends do: she made me laugh, she made me weep, and when I closed the book at the end of the day, I knew I’d never forget her.”
—Ruth Ozeki, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being and My Year of Meats
 
“Courageous and wise, as heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny as only the most deeply true fiction can be. Melissa Bank writes with a fine eye, a clean voice, and a generous heart.”
—Pam Houston, bestselling author of Sight Hound and Cowboys are My Weakness
 
“A compassionate comedy of manners, pitch-perfect . . . Bank’s people are fully realized and, just like us, fond, foolish, blind, and wise by turns and in ways both tenderly familiar and refreshingly odd.”
—Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us
© AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Melissa Bank (1960–2022) was the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Wonder Spot, which have been translated into thirty languages. Her short stories and nonfiction were published in the Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Ploughshares, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, and elsewhere, as well as broadcast by NPR and the BBC. She won the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and held an MFA from Cornell University. A longtime resident of New York City and East Hampton, New York, she taught in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton and wrote until her passing in 2022. View titles by Melissa Bank
My brother's first serious girlfriend was eight years older—twenty-eight to his twenty. Her name was Julia Cathcart, and Henry introduced her to us in early June. They drove from Manhattan down to our cottage in Loveladies, on the New Jersey shore. When his little convertible, his pet, pulled into the driveway, she was behind the wheel. My mother and I were watching from the kitchen window. I said, "He lets her drive his car."

My brother and his girlfriend were dressed alike, baggy white shirts tucked into jeans, except she had a black cashmere sweater over her shoulders.

She had dark eyes, high cheekbones, and beautiful skin, pale, with high coloring in her cheeks like a child with a fever. Her hair was back in a loose ponytail, tied with a piece of lace, and she wore tiny pearl earrings.

I thought maybe she'd look older than Henry, but it was Henry who looked older than Henry. Standing there, he looked like a man. He'd grown a beard, for starters, and had on new wire-rim sunglasses that made him appear more like a bon vivant than a philosophy major between colleges. His hair was longer, and, not yet lightened by the sun, it was the reddish-brown color of an Irish setter.

He gave me a kiss on the cheek, as though he always had.

Then he roughed around with our Airedale, Atlas, while his girlfriend and mother shook hands. They were clasping fingertips, ladylike, smiling as though they were already fond of each other and just waiting for details to fill in why.

Julia turned to me and said, "You must be Janie."

"Most people call me Jane now," I said, making myself sound even younger.

"Jane," she said, possibly in the manner of an adult trying to take a child seriously.

Henry unpacked the car and loaded himself up with everything they'd brought, little bags and big ones, a string tote, and a knapsack.

As he started up the driveway, his girlfriend said, "Do you have the wine, Hank?"

Whoever Hank was, he had it.

Except for bedrooms and the screened-in porch, our house was just one big all-purpose room, and Henry was giving her a jokey tour of it: "This is the living room," he said, gesturing to the sofa; he paused, gestured to it again and said, "This is the den."

Out on the porch, she stretched her legs in front of her—Audrey Hepburn relaxing after dance class. She wore navy espadrilles. I noticed that Henry had on penny Loafers without socks, and he'd inserted a subway token in the slot where the penny belonged.

Julia sipped her ice tea and asked how Loveladies got its name. We didn't know, but Henry said, "It was derived from the Indian name of the founder."

Julia smiled, and asked my mother how long we'd been coming here.

"This is our first year," my mother said.

My father was out playing tennis, and without him present, I felt free to add a subversive, "We used to go to Nantucket."

"Nantucket is lovely," Julia said.

"It is lovely," my mother conceded, but went on to cite drab points in New Jersey's favor, based on its proximity to our house in Philadelphia.

In the last of our New Jersey versus Nantucket debates, I'd argued, forcefully I'd thought, that Camden was even closer. I'd almost added that the trash dump was practically in walking distance, but my father had interrupted.

I could tell he was angry, but he kept his voice even: we could go to the shore all year round, he said, and that would help us to be a closer family.

"Not so far," I said, meaning to add levity.

But my father looked at me with his eyes narrowed, like he wasn't sure I was his daughter after all.

About

The New York Times bestselling classic of a young woman’s journey in work, love, and life
 
“In this swinging, funny, and tender study of contemporary relationships, Bank refutes once and for all the popular notions of neurotic thirtysomething women.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“Truly poignant.” —Time
 
Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, relationships, and the treacherous waters of the workplace. Soon Jane is swept off her feet by an older man and into a Fitzgeraldesque whirl of cocktail parties, country houses, and rules that were made to be broken, but comes to realize that it’s a world where the stakes are much too high for comfort. With an unforgettable comic touch, Bank skillfully teases out universal issues, puts a clever new spin on the mating dance, and captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to come of age as a young woman.

Praise

“Charming and funny.”
—The New York Times

“As hilarious as Girls’ Guide is, there’s a wise, serious core here.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Bank draws exquisite portraits of loneliness, and can do it in a sentence.”
Newsweek

“A sexy, pour-your-heart-out, champagne tingle of a read—thoughtful, wise, and tell-all honest. Bank’s is a voice that you’ll remember for years to come.”
Cosmopolitan

“Bank writes like John Cheever, but funnier.”
—Los Angeles Times
 
“Believe the hype: Jane’s touching (but unsentimental) career and love trials ring true.”
—Glamour
 
“Melissa Bank accomplishes that hardest of simple things: She shows life as it is—and makes it readable.”
The Washington Post
 
“It is, for me, a near-perfect book, one that I have pressed into the hands of several female friends and recommended on lists both solicited and not. From its pages spill lightly scented wit and wisdom: How to be, how to see, how to cope. It is easily the most influential book of my third decade, and every time I reread it – or sections of it, at least – I am struck again by its neatness and completeness.”
—Bim Adewunmi, BuzzFeed




“Writing literature that mixes comedy and tragedy in the proper amounts is not an easy task. Only a handful of contemporary writers (Joseph Heller, Ann Tyler, and John Irving come to mind) can do it with any success. Whether dealing with serious issues or mundane, Bank proves that she has what it takes to stand in such august company.”
The Denver Post
 
“Crafted by a gifted writer, a descendant from the school of restraint whose grandfather is Hemingway and whose father is the early Raymond Carver. The presiding mother figure is Lily Tomlin.”
—The News and Observer
 
“Only a few authors have successfully blended the compressed nature of short prose with the novel’s greater panorama of character. Melissa Bank brings similar energy and style to her new book.”
—Chicago Tribune

“I read the first chapter and thought, ‘Wait, I know this girl.’ By the second, I realized she was my friend. She did all the things that good friends do: she made me laugh, she made me weep, and when I closed the book at the end of the day, I knew I’d never forget her.”
—Ruth Ozeki, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being and My Year of Meats
 
“Courageous and wise, as heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny as only the most deeply true fiction can be. Melissa Bank writes with a fine eye, a clean voice, and a generous heart.”
—Pam Houston, bestselling author of Sight Hound and Cowboys are My Weakness
 
“A compassionate comedy of manners, pitch-perfect . . . Bank’s people are fully realized and, just like us, fond, foolish, blind, and wise by turns and in ways both tenderly familiar and refreshingly odd.”
—Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us

Author

© AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Melissa Bank (1960–2022) was the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Wonder Spot, which have been translated into thirty languages. Her short stories and nonfiction were published in the Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Ploughshares, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, and elsewhere, as well as broadcast by NPR and the BBC. She won the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and held an MFA from Cornell University. A longtime resident of New York City and East Hampton, New York, she taught in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton and wrote until her passing in 2022. View titles by Melissa Bank

Excerpt

My brother's first serious girlfriend was eight years older—twenty-eight to his twenty. Her name was Julia Cathcart, and Henry introduced her to us in early June. They drove from Manhattan down to our cottage in Loveladies, on the New Jersey shore. When his little convertible, his pet, pulled into the driveway, she was behind the wheel. My mother and I were watching from the kitchen window. I said, "He lets her drive his car."

My brother and his girlfriend were dressed alike, baggy white shirts tucked into jeans, except she had a black cashmere sweater over her shoulders.

She had dark eyes, high cheekbones, and beautiful skin, pale, with high coloring in her cheeks like a child with a fever. Her hair was back in a loose ponytail, tied with a piece of lace, and she wore tiny pearl earrings.

I thought maybe she'd look older than Henry, but it was Henry who looked older than Henry. Standing there, he looked like a man. He'd grown a beard, for starters, and had on new wire-rim sunglasses that made him appear more like a bon vivant than a philosophy major between colleges. His hair was longer, and, not yet lightened by the sun, it was the reddish-brown color of an Irish setter.

He gave me a kiss on the cheek, as though he always had.

Then he roughed around with our Airedale, Atlas, while his girlfriend and mother shook hands. They were clasping fingertips, ladylike, smiling as though they were already fond of each other and just waiting for details to fill in why.

Julia turned to me and said, "You must be Janie."

"Most people call me Jane now," I said, making myself sound even younger.

"Jane," she said, possibly in the manner of an adult trying to take a child seriously.

Henry unpacked the car and loaded himself up with everything they'd brought, little bags and big ones, a string tote, and a knapsack.

As he started up the driveway, his girlfriend said, "Do you have the wine, Hank?"

Whoever Hank was, he had it.

Except for bedrooms and the screened-in porch, our house was just one big all-purpose room, and Henry was giving her a jokey tour of it: "This is the living room," he said, gesturing to the sofa; he paused, gestured to it again and said, "This is the den."

Out on the porch, she stretched her legs in front of her—Audrey Hepburn relaxing after dance class. She wore navy espadrilles. I noticed that Henry had on penny Loafers without socks, and he'd inserted a subway token in the slot where the penny belonged.

Julia sipped her ice tea and asked how Loveladies got its name. We didn't know, but Henry said, "It was derived from the Indian name of the founder."

Julia smiled, and asked my mother how long we'd been coming here.

"This is our first year," my mother said.

My father was out playing tennis, and without him present, I felt free to add a subversive, "We used to go to Nantucket."

"Nantucket is lovely," Julia said.

"It is lovely," my mother conceded, but went on to cite drab points in New Jersey's favor, based on its proximity to our house in Philadelphia.

In the last of our New Jersey versus Nantucket debates, I'd argued, forcefully I'd thought, that Camden was even closer. I'd almost added that the trash dump was practically in walking distance, but my father had interrupted.

I could tell he was angry, but he kept his voice even: we could go to the shore all year round, he said, and that would help us to be a closer family.

"Not so far," I said, meaning to add levity.

But my father looked at me with his eyes narrowed, like he wasn't sure I was his daughter after all.