Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Intimations: Stories

Rate this book
From the celebrated author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,a thought-provoking, often unsettling story collection that consists, broadly, of narrative diagrams of the three main stages in a human life: birth, life, and death.

Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine earned her comparisons to Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Ben Marcus, and Tom Perrotta. It was praised by the New York Times as "a powerful allegory of our civilization’s many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation."

In her second book, a collection of twelve stories irresistibly seductive in their strangeness, she explores human life from beginning to end: the distress of birth into a world already formed; the brief and confusing period of "living" where we understand what is expected of us and struggle to do it; and the death-y period toward the end where we sense it is ending and will end only partially understood, at best.

The title is taken from one of the stories ("Intimation"), but is also a play on Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality"—only in this case it’s not clear exactly what is being intimated, but it’s nothing so gleaming and good as Immortality. The middle, "Living" section of the book, is fleshed out with a set of stories that borrow more from traditional realist fiction to illustrate the inner lives of the characters.

At once familiar and mysterious, these stories have an eerie resonance as its characters find themselves in new and surprising situations. An unnamed woman enters a room with no exit and a ready-made life; the disappearance of people, objects, and memory creates an apocalypse; the art of dance is used to try to tame a feral child; the key to surviving a house-party lies in knowing the difference between fake and real blood.

Elegant, surprising, wondrous, and haunting, Intimations is an utterly transporting collection from one of our most ingenious and brilliant young writers.

240 pages, ebook

First published September 13, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Alexandra Kleeman

16 books449 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
122 (17%)
4 stars
219 (31%)
3 stars
242 (35%)
2 stars
86 (12%)
1 star
19 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 100 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,551 reviews2,535 followers
September 26, 2016
Kleeman’s debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, was a surprise favorite of mine from last year. Alas, her short stories don’t pack the same punch. True, some of them employ a similar combination of surreal plot and in-your-face ideology, but only four out of the 12 stories seemed to me strong enough to stand alone. These were “Lobster Dinner,” surely inspired by David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, in which crustaceans take revenge against their consumers; “The Dancing-Master,” about a man who tries to introduce a nineteenth-century feral boy to culture only for wildness to come creeping back; “I May Not Be the One You Want,” in which Karen, writing a profile about a dairy farmer, avoids men’s attempts to turn her into a sexual object; and “Fake Blood,” another pseudo-horror story about a girl in a nurse costume who can’t decide whether she’s caught up in a murder mystery game or a real serial killer’s trap.

Of the rest, four or five – including vignettes from Karen’s future life – are okay and a couple are pointless as well as seemingly endless (“A Brief History of Weather” and “Hylomorphosis”). Students of feminist literature, especially fans of Angela Carter, may be willing to exchange satisfying storytelling for messages about women’s bodies and anxiety about motherhood.

Favorite passage:

You have beautiful eyes, he said all of a sudden.

I hated compliments like that, compliments that carved out one particular part of your body and put it on a platter for viewing. It always took a while for me to reabsorb that body part afterward, to add it back to the whole. The best kind of compliment to give me was something vague, plausible. You’re all right. Or, Don’t worry, it gets better.

Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books315 followers
January 24, 2022
1. Fairy Tale 2/5
2. Lobster Dinner 5/5
3. The Dancing-Master 3/5
4 A Brief History of Weather 2/5
5. I May Not Be the One You Want, But I Am The One For You 5/5
6. Choking Victim 5/5
7. Jellyfish 5/5
8. Intimation 5/5
9. Fake Blood 4/5
10. Hylomorphosis 3/5
11. Rabbit Starvation 4/5
12. You, Disappearing 3/5

In this modest first collection, the author is often incredibly specific in her descriptions, stretching them to absurd lengths, and melding the boundaries of literary and speculative fiction. Not all of the stories are brilliant in my opinion, but they are all different and eerie.

More than once, a sudden confusion of the semi-consistent protagonist persona sparks an epiphany about the absurdity of her situation and the threatening aspects of the man or woman in her vicinity. This pattern emerges in several analogs leading to a startling dramatic tension throughout. A menacing cognitive dissonance hovers over the entire collection.

As she does within her novel, Something New Under the Sun, Kleeman defamiliarizes the familiar and familiarizes the weird, here verging into the somewhat bizarro at times, but glossing it all with the texture of literary fiction. Wisdom lurks under quirks, and her meditations on modern life through an oblique lens are always fascinating, whether she's pondering lobsters, history, feminism, or beachgoers.

I preferred the more traditional stories in this book, more than the experimental departures and abstract collages. The former had arcs perfectly channeling the slowly dawning dread of displacement, danger, or humiliation. There is a palpable nostalgia for youth, a recurring reliance on college drinking, the wild freedoms subsumed by responsibilities, work, family obligations, her characters feeling inhuman in their roles, underappreciated, but mostly misunderstood. Within them all is a search for meaning, a quality of longing, and a subtle regret.

The surprises start with a Ben Marcus-esque collage, then moving to a detailed slow-paced romantic episode about dairy farming, where loneliness and fear prevents a relationship from blossoming.

In one tale, speech is portrayed as a dislodging of internal blockages. Motherhood is cast as a horrifying dilemma of sacrificial disruption.

There is also a peculiar allegory on domestic life, motherhood, and wifedom, which manages to be abstract, compelling, disturbing, telling of a hostage of the home, like an amnesiac homemaker, trapped in a sick game.

We are treated to a couple ambiguous endings. The resort tourist story was elegant, entertaining, and robust, showcasing the alienness of jellyfish, contrasted with the inscrutable and self-destructive desires of human beings.

We are given a sense of poseurship, an interpretation of authenticity, in the context of relationships, amid the consciousness of the male in gaze in the form of staring men.
A fabulous collection of bizarre social situations and interpersonal awkwardness, which constantly subverts your expectations.
Profile Image for cat.
1,011 reviews27 followers
October 9, 2016
Well, folks, it turns out that avant garde absurdism is just not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Meghan.
199 reviews55 followers
October 12, 2016
My rating is based on my own experience reading this collection, not a judgment of Kleeman's abilities. I think Intimations is an inventive, unusual, eerie collection of "stories," and probably deserves of a lot of praise for the technical aspects of the writing. But I can't say I enjoyed reading it or felt moved by it. I found myself searching the text for hidden meaning, lamenting not being a cooler, hipper, better reader. There were times I felt like I might as well have been reading an instruction manual for a microwave oven.
Profile Image for Alessia Scurati.
308 reviews82 followers
June 7, 2020
Parafrasando l’espressione che gli inglesi usano per dire che qualcosa non è il tuo genere (not my cup of tea) direi, visto il nome della casa editrice: not my cup of coffee.
Momenti di grande inventiva che però spesso non ho capito dove andassero a parare. È come se la Kleeman iniziasse sempre mettendo un’asticella altissima alla prima riga e poi dicesse: ‘E adesso ti faccio vedere di quanto posso andare oltre’. Andandoci, per davvero - dal punto di vista della scrittura è straordinaria, la Kleeman. Solo che poi mi perdo per la storia, che non sai mai dove arriverà e non sento emozione, non mi colpisce, resta tutto molto cerebrale. Non mi scatta il transfer emozionale.
Ci sono 3 racconti che definirei notevoli.
Il resto: finiti presa dalla volontà di farlo e le ho scordate appena arrivata al punto finale.
Non so perché, ma se dovessi riassumere la sensazione, alla fine di questa lettura mi sono sentita quasi come alla fine della visione di 'To kill a sacred deer' di Lanthimos. Che peraltro è l'unico dei suoi film che proprio non rivedrei.
Profile Image for Sephreadstoo.
488 reviews16 followers
September 28, 2022
Mi aspettavo un libro graffiante, ma ho trovato un po' un hit and miss: esercizi creativi fini a sè stessi e una buona dose di surrealismo.

Alcuni racconti sono bellissimi, ma la maggior parte sono trascurabili e, a mio parere, se revisionati un po' e tagliuzzati avrebbero potuto essere molto incisivi, invece alcune "gag" risultano tirate per le lunghe, ripetitive.
Profile Image for Marie-Therese.
412 reviews164 followers
November 24, 2016
Kleeman has a wonderful ability to turn a phrase, to craft an image, to describe a scene vividly but without excessive detail, but too many of the stories in this collection seem half-baked or baggy and shapeless. They're beautifully written but they lack punch. The best generally focus on the same themes of embodiment, hunger, and female identity that were so important in her excellent debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine but she does occasionally branch out a bit here as in 'The Dancing Master', a rather formal, well-imagined vignette of quasi-historical fiction on the theme of the feral child and 'Hylomorphosis', a viscerally strange meditation on the nature of angels that manages to almost one-up the weirdness of late medieval theologians on the same subject.

This is an interesting if not completely successful collection (I'm glad to have read it but realize others might find it slightly disappointing). Kleeman is a writer to watch out for in future-she's going places, and if she stumbles a bit on the journey, that doesn't make the destination less worthwhile.
Profile Image for Alicia.
30 reviews36 followers
September 19, 2017
These stories are so strange, so beautiful. Nothing makes sense and yet it's completely obvious how much it all does. You, Disappearing made me feel that weird tense feeling in your face, when you want to or need to cry but nothing's coming out and so the tears just sort of sit there, inside your head. It's been a while since a story has made me feel that feeling.
Profile Image for Samantha.
385 reviews185 followers
February 18, 2017
There are twelve short stories contained within Alexandra Kleeman's Intimations. There are three sections, which have four stories each. Of the twelve stories, I thought four within the whole work were great. A fifth I liked, and the rest I wasn't crazy about.

Right off the bat, there are two stories I love: "Fairy Tale" and "Lobster Dinner." These two are rich in symbolism and feature gorgeous, unsettling writing. They are surreal like nightmarish dreams. I wish the collection lived up to the promise of these first two stories. The next two stories in section I were not as good in my opinion. Then Section II was almost a total bust. There are three stories of realistic, contemporary fiction, all featuring a main character named Karen. At first I couldn't even tell if all the Karens are the same person (the stories do not appear chronologically: we go from single Karen in story one to married Karen in story two back to newly engaged Karen in story three). I don't think Kleeman excels in writing your standard realistic fiction. These three feel like a snooze. These stories are also all told in the third-person, and I think Kleeman is strongest when writing in the first-person, as she did in her debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine.

But the final story in section II has Kleeman returning to form, delivering a dreamlike allegory called "Intimation." The next story, which kicks off Section III, is "Fake Blood," a nightmarish, humorous horror story that also features deeply intelligent symbolism. I did like the final story in the collection, "You, Disappearing." Suffice it to say, I believe Kleeman is at her surreal best when she sticks to the style that suits her: absurdist sendups of life, especially modern sexual/romantic relationships. I wish the whole collection was told in this bizarre, whimsical style, with each story containing the caliber of storytelling that is present in my favorites. The rest of the stories range from unexciting to too disjointed and out there to make sense or have much impact. But even within the stories that I wasn't crazy about, there are great sentences. There are good ideas to be found. There is humor sprinkled throughout. Kleeman is a talented writer. And her prose is often beautifully, always thoughtfully, crafted. And even the Karen stories share themes with the ones that I love, themes such as motherhood, womanhood, and relationships.

"Fairy Tale," "Lobster Dinner," "Intimation," and "Fake Blood" are the stories that are the most like You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine. I hope in Kleeman's next work she continues with this unique type of literature that is all her own.
Profile Image for Diletta.
Author 7 books171 followers
December 13, 2018
Di cosa ricordi, e come ricordi, il reale. Ovvero di filtrare tutto nei gesti, negli oggetti e nella comunicazione. Troppe cose devono passare in una persona, per questo alla fine il reale è impossibile da definire.
(Prima e seconda parte molto belle, terza un po' "troppo". Sarebbe bene, forse, allontanarsi un po'.)
Profile Image for Nate D.
1,578 reviews984 followers
March 11, 2019
Between this and her novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, Kleeman is leaving her mark on the dystopian present. But whereas the "realistic" (albeit absurd) pieces that form the centerpiece here are keenly observed but verge on the obvious to many living these times, the strongest may be the eerie anxiety dreams which distill a similar sense of confusion and loss into purer, more familiar-yet-disorienting forms. Others shed all but their inklings of unease and veer towards something more like Ben Marcus' uncertain worlds, and there're probably just enough of these (+ medieval theoretical theology!) to set against the rest in freer experimentation. I have a feeling that whatever she does next may be the one to really watch for, though.
Profile Image for chiara_librofilia.
394 reviews20 followers
March 9, 2019
Una raccolta di racconti divisa in tre parti che esplora il corso della vita umana, dal principio alla sua fine e che, allo stesso tempo, parla di famiglia, di casa, di mistero, di follia e di tempo che scorre o che, addirittura, se ne resta sospeso.
Anche in questo libro, esattamente come aveva già fatto con il suo romanzo d'esordio Il corpo che vuoi, Alexandra Kleeman ingrandisce e si focalizza sui dettagli ma senza mai perdere il legame con la realtà e con quell perenne sensazione di avere dei pericoli nascosti dietro l'angolo.
Leggendo i racconti contenuti in Intuizioni vi è una ricerca costante di una sorta di significato nascosto che, però, non è sempre presente e, infatti, in questi racconti di Alexandra Kleeman non succede quasi mai nulla di particolare e finiscono per essere più un esercizio tecnico e stilistico di scrittura che un desiderio di comunicare qualcosa.
Profile Image for Iris Bratton.
275 reviews8 followers
February 9, 2017
A unique reading experience that leaves you wanting more!

I'm slowly starting to find Alexandra Kleeman as a new favorite author of mine the more she releases wonderful works. Her writing style is eerie yet beautiful and haunted me in a way that I never want to forget. Her stories are fantastical yet the themes seem so real. Kleeman provides intimations into life, death, and living.

Although this is a short story collection, her stories read like poetry. They are so cryptic, I found myself wanting to read them over again to peel back the many layers within. Her imagery paints a vivid picture that is chilling yet gorgeous. Some stories were definitely more impacting than others. surprisingly the shorter ones had the most punch. Some of the longer ones were a little too simple or just plain strange. Fairy Tale, Intimations, and Rabbit Starvation were the most interesting to me. I have pages upon pages of notes about each one and I still feel like I haven't yet breached the surface of the meaning behind them.

My only complaint is the inconsistency, especially when it pertains to quotations. Some stories have them and some don't. I understand that many of these were written at different times and omitting quotations may have been intentional for that particular story. But looking at the collection as a whole, it really bugged me.. Just choose one or the other, please.

This collection is definitely not for everyone. Mainly because it's weird. There are somewhat graphic moments of violence, strange nightmares, and animal cruelty. If that's not what you enjoy reading then maybe perhaps find a different collection to read. If you enjoyed You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine, then you will most likely love this collection as I have come to love it. It's intricate and thought-provoking. I'll definitely be chewing on this one for a while.
Profile Image for Esmée.
506 reviews3 followers
March 28, 2020
A very uneven collection of short stories of which some were just as great as You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine. I really loved the opening and final story and there were some cool ones in between as well. But other stories didn't stick with me, even while reading, and I kind of glossed over them.
Profile Image for Claudia.
287 reviews103 followers
August 18, 2019
Non riesco decidere se la Kleeman sia geniale o scriva solo cose fuori di testa. Di questa raccolta ne salvo solo un paio di racconti e le due stelle non sono perché penso che non sappia scrivere. Ad ogni modo, "Intimations" nella sua totalità mi pare più un esercizio di stile.
Profile Image for cureadosities.
16 reviews34 followers
December 9, 2021
Bought this one because I like "You, Disappearing" a lot. The image sticks in my mind for quite some time after reading it. I enjoy other stories as well though nothing tops that, not even a bit. "You, Disappearing" can be read online as well at Guernica Mag.
Profile Image for dorothy.
62 reviews8 followers
June 25, 2022
i didn't find this as compelling as her debut novel, but kleeman still crafts her prose with the same dream-like quality. her writing is poetic and absurd but compelling nonetheless.
favourites included "lobster dinner", "choking victim", "fake blood", and "rabbit starvation".
Profile Image for Sarah.
80 reviews1 follower
September 28, 2016
Absolutely adored "Fairy Tale" - story 1. I wanted more... But couldn't get into the others quite the same. Some were better than others... But I am looking forward to more work by Kleeman. She is still my favorite.
Profile Image for Laci Long Carrera | Book Pairings.
565 reviews166 followers
August 18, 2018
Let me first say, I think Alexandra Kleeman is a wonderfully talented writer and an a genuinely sweet human being (I met her at the Boston Book Festival). That being said, I have mixed feelings about this short story collection. I was completely engrossed and in love with some stories, but others were definitely not for me. There is an almost uncanny, dream-like quality to all of the stories in this collection. At times you wonder is this a dream or someone’s psychotic break? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that about this collection. It’s very experimental which works for me about 60% of the time, but the other 40% leaves me vexed and bored. (Don’t hate me Kleeman fans.) I had similar feelings about her debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, but I’ve come to realize that that story has stayed with me, despite my original review. There is something about Kleeman’s writing that haunts you in a good way.

If you were a fan of her debut work or you love experimental fiction/short-stories, I cannot recommend this enough. If you are like me and are wishy-washy about it, maybe you should skip this collection or wait until you are in a headspace that is conducive to this writing style.
Profile Image for Pearse Anderson.
Author 5 books34 followers
June 14, 2019
Kleeman is an amazing writer, my rating is only simply because of the content in this collection not engaging me in really any sort of way. It worked as a five hour audiobook on 1.25/1.5 speed because I could take it, not because I wanted it. This stories, generally about formless surrealism (think of the Fireman's Home in Twin Peaks: The Return but without any of the Earthly scenes), or speculative fiction (feral child and disappearing ones were the best here, I think) were generally paired with cold vignettes in classic Kleeman cast about women fending off the slow evil of men or thinking about biological processes. I understood many of these characters, but I did not want to hear much about them. If they were at a party, I would slink away until I found more of a community or more of an uplifting character to converse with, I think. This collection made me think about Marlon James's response to Claire Vaye Watkins's essay, and it also made me think how much I value a lovely community in media. Goodbye!
Profile Image for Brian Grover.
809 reviews5 followers
November 8, 2017
This was a mostly terrible book. It's a collection of short stories, and the blurbs compare her to Pynchon and Delillo - which, maybe Pynchon, since he's so difficult to read. The stories are mostly nonsensical, like bad ideas in a early phase of being workshopped, and I chewed through them pretty quickly, more out of consternation than enjoyment. Bumped from one star to two for the last entry here, You, Disappearing - it's a story about a mysterious plague where all the things (including people) on Earth just start popping out of existence, it's the only thing here that even makes sense, much less has emotional resonance, but I enjoyed it. That's it!
1,023 reviews17 followers
October 2, 2016
alexandra kleeman here trades styles between stories, from abstract and disjointed pieces that are somewhat uncomfortable and share DNA with the similarly minded absurdist Amelia Gray to more concrete depictions of the human condition that still sort of feel like someone is playing the record backwards. i enjoyed many of these stories, though some of them i'd be hard pressed to tell you what they were about; each of them made me feel uneasy in my skin. kleeman is someone worth watching as she growns into her formidable powers.
11 reviews
July 20, 2018
This is a continuation of my review of her first book: Please make it stop! It hurts too much! Innocent trees are being slaughtered so this literary yuppie can continue being pretentious. Now I must listen to Van Halen's first six albums to remind that true virtuosity exist only in music and I should never expect it in any other art form.
Profile Image for Salty Swift.
750 reviews4 followers
May 31, 2017
Am I allowed to call this novel garbage with an absolutely straight face? What an utter waste of ink, time and "effort". If I had it my way, I'd give this no stars.
Profile Image for Ben Brackett.
1,228 reviews4 followers
August 6, 2021
Despite liking how she writes, this was very hit or miss, and the hits weren't big ones.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 100 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.