The Things We Do for Women by Seth Johnson

From Booklist:

“… [The Things We Do for Women], Johnson’s first book, is worth reading for the strength of the author’s vision, the authenticity of his writing, and the promise it gives of future reading pleasure. Libraries with short story fans, literary-fiction aficionados, and large fiction collections should give serious consideration to this title.”

— Ellen Loughran

Read the entire review here.

From Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO):

“In the ebb and flow of publishing, there are always linked short-story collections — but we’re in a time now that’s particularly rich with their unique charms. Experienced readers know there’ll be some rewarding “a-ha” moments. But the connections between recurring characters, plus the foreground-background dimensionality along with wise choices in point of view, can weave a community that entertains readers thoroughly while supporting even the weightiest themes. In the recently released “The Things We Do for Women,” Louisvillian Seth Johnson is developing just such a tapestry. His dozen stories of Kentuckians are layered with insights viewed through day-to-day elements such as canine companionship and marital troubles.” T.E. Lyons

Amazon Reviews:

“Hard and smooth like a skull, Seth Johnson’s prose pulls you, the reader, into a world filled with the desperate and delusional characters cautious people avoid. However, as you cringe, you begin to recognize these people; you’ve passed them on the street, or in the cubicle down the hall, or while you are eating your lunch in a sunny park. Johnson commands a landscape that most people turn their heads to avoid. These stories are as real as it gets: ugly and beautiful and terribly true. You won’t be able to look away.”


“It’s hard to believe that Seth Johnson is a first time author. His writing is mature and intriguing like some of the greats Faulkner or Gresham. Excellent read, highly recommend delving into this book.”


“The title of this book intrigued me, and being from Kentucky, I felt a kinship with the first time author. The characters are people I probably wouldn’t associate with, but as Seth pulls you into their lives, you begin to realize you know these people from somewhere in your past. Like a wreck on the highway, you want to look away, but you cannot help but be drawn into their lives; as ugly and desperate as they are. Believable, wonderfully woven stories that ring so true, this is a book that I could not put down. These gritty, thought-provoking stories will stay with you long after the last page is turned.”


“Really enjoyed this book, read it over a weekend. Seth does a great job developing the characters and threading them through the stories. He keeps the reader curious and hungry to learn what will happen next. Looking forward to reading your next book.”

Goodreads & LibraryThing Reviews:

“A smart, interconnected collection of short stories set in Kentucky about various middle class and lower class people. The main link is the relationship between Nick and Ashley, a young couple that we see in the early stages of their relationship through their marriage and the subsequent issues within the marriage. Dogs figure prominently in many of the stories. Stories alternate from third person to first person. This will sound like a criticism, but it isn’t intended to be: the stories read as if they were written for an MFA program or for publication in a literary journal. There is a tendency for the endings to be a bit vague and for things to not wrap up entirely. Or there is an obliqueness that [make me] wonder how much [I am ] supposed to assume about the characters. The standout for me is “You Heard Nothing?” told from the perspective of a woman whose husband comes home to tell her that there has been a shooting at his workplace. Although he isn’t affected in any way, the wife is disturbed by the incident.”


“This slim little volume of short stories grew on me once I started recognizing characters from story to story. At first they seemed a little too pretentious and ambiguous. It seemed all the characters were baffled by themselves and each other and there were all these dogs running around. But then the stories became intertwined, and I recognized characters from each of the stories and even liked some of them. Toward the end there weren’t so many dogs. (Wondered what the heck happened to sweet Belle. Where was she?) I loved the cat story at the end. I loved the familiarity of the place. Lots of good Kentucky details and horses and booze. In general, I will look forward to more stories by Seth Johnson. This seems a good first start.”