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ARYN KYLE, whose award-winning novel <I>The God of Animals </I>was hailed as "reason for readers to rejoice" (<I>USA Today</I>), turns her gift for storytelling to the lives of girls and women in this spectacular collection. These eleven stories showcase Kyle’s keen eye for character, her humor, and her uncanny grasp of the loneliness, selfishness, and longing that underlie female experience. <P>In "Nine," a young girl given to exaggeration escapes a humiliating ninth birthday celebration with the help of her father’s new girlfriend. The dubious benefits of sleeping with one’s boss are revealed when a bookstore manager defends an employee from an irate customer in the hilarious "Sex Scenes from a Chain Bookstore." A raid on a neighbor’s meth lab strengthens the unlikely friendship between a solitary woman and a Goth teenage girl in "Boys and Girls Like You and Me." And in a notable exception to the rule, "Captain’s Club" features a boy whose devotion to a lonely woman transforms his cruise vacation.<P>In moments electric with sudden harmony or ruthless indifference, the girls and women in this collection provoke, beguile, and entertain. Writing with remarkable tenderness and wisdom, Kyle gives us a collection radiant with bittersweet revelations and startling insights, and secures her reputation as a major young talent.