Writing Alumna Alexandra Kleeman Publishes Second Book to Strong Reviews

January 27, 2017

Writing program alumna Alexandra Kleeman ’12 has published her second book, a short story collection entitled Intimations (HarperCollins), to strong critical reviews. The book follows her debut novelYou Too Can Have a Body Like Mine (2015), which also received wide acclaim. The New York Times’ John Williams recently called You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, which Kleeman worked on while studying at Columbia, “one of the most promising debuts of 2015.”

Much like that novel, Intimations adopts a surrealist view of the world, exploring subjects such as death, romance, and femininity through the perspective of a narrator that, in the words of Kirkus Reviews, “sometimes sounds like a normal person and sometimes like a disembodied poetic intelligence.” In a story called “Fairy Tale,” which first appeared in The Paris Review, a young woman receives a procession of suitors, one of whom, after proclaiming his love, announces that he plans to kill her. Another story, “Choking Victim,” which first appeared in The New Yorker, explores a young mother’s feelings of of estrangement.

In a review in The New York Times Book Review, Hermione Hoby likens Kleeman to “an alien intent on some meticulous anthropological mission on Earth.” She adds that Kleeman’s fictional world is “parsed with a charming exactitude that magnifies all its latent marvels and especially horrors—the blacker and more peculiar these stories get, the funnier they are.” In an essay on The Millions, Michael Deagler writes that “Kleeman is masterful at the sentence level,” and, at the book level, “ambitious and inventive.” Other outlets describes Kleeman’s writing as “lyrical” (The Guardian) and, “eerie, tragic, but beautiful” (Bustle). Publishers Weekly calls the stories “absurdist, bleak, and funny,” saying they “defy straightforward interpretation and instead linger long afterward, to be reinterpreted as they mutate in the reader’s mind.”

Of her experience in the Writing Program, Kleeman told Publishers Weekly, “I wrote the first half of [You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine] in workshop, almost like a serialized novel—my classmates would often be reading new chapters as fast as I could write them.” While at Columbia, Kleeman, who teaches in the university’s undergraduate writing program, formed an independent workshop with fellow students, including Sarah Novic ’15, whose novel, Girl at War (Random House), was published to wide acclaim last year.

Intimations is now available in bookstores.