In each of the 11 stories in Maile Meloy’s new collection, published by Riverhead, the author constructs scenarios in which her characters attempt to acquire the paradox of the title: “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.” “Superbly crafted, these hard little tales wind through the ways people fail to relate to each other and even to themselves — their central insight being how complicit we are in creating our own misery,” summarizes the Los Angeles Times. With a structure based on a classical template comprised of fallen or falling heroes, Meloy studies her characters in the throes of their twisted aspirations. “Precise and restrained, Meloy’s diagnoses of a very American malignancy have an authentic moral force,” writes Slate. Meloy’s characters are chock full of humanity, and it is often the ugly aspects that surface in these tales of desperation, infidelity and miscommunication. The author is sympathetic though not indulgent of her characters. “Thanks to Meloy’s spare, subdued style, the death and infidelity running through these tales don’t take on as grim a tone as you’d expect,” reassures the New York Times. There is much to recommend Meloy’s work, not least of which is her ability to include humor amidst quotidian miseries.