Shannon Cain

reviews & Interviews


Home      Coaching & Consultation      Client Accomplishments     Testimonials       Bio


Reviews for

The Necessity of Certain Behaviors

Cain's...quietly august characters struggle to come to terms with the unpredictable nuance of tradition, sexuality, and happiness. Utilizing painful misunderstandings to maximum effect, Cain's characters arrive at epiphanies without relying on convenient tricks and plot devices. This is a work of finely calibrated emotional registers that will set the bar high for Cain's next book.

Publishers Weekly

Cain takes fringy characters and makes them lovable. From the bisexual dog walker simultaneously courting a man and a woman to the mayor’s wife caught masturbating at the YMCA, each tale is served up with comedy and pizzazz.

—Ms. Magazine

(Great Reads for Fall 2011)

One of the most endearing traits of Cain’s work is her ability to take something sacred and special, and pull back the curtain to reveal its true essence. She is able to capture a moment, and show us how much that sliver of time meant to her characters, something touching perhaps from a history steeped in darkness, and then call it forth later to bring us full circle, leaving us devastated by such revelations. This is a gripping, touching, powerful collection of stories.

The Nervous Breakdown

(Best Books of 2011)

The 2011 Drue Heinz Prize winner, Shannon Cain's "The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, [emphasizes] the emotional no-man's-land that lives on the border of love, desire and the oh-so-disappointing reality of living. It's a delight, with any truly salacious notes mollified by her perfectly timed wit.

—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The hip, quirky scenarios of Cain’s debut collection, which won the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, partly explain why her work stands out among debut short fiction, but they don’t explain why these stories are so good. The satisfaction they offer has less to do with Cain’s (wonderfully bewildered) characters or (satisfyingly non-gimmicky) plot developments, I think, than it has to do with her dead-accurate sardonic tone.

The Rumpus

Her prose is strong, succinct, [and] lacks judgment...which Cain gloriously refuses entry into her narratives. This is a sign of a confident queer writer—one who is able to touch upon the truths of queer existence without framing those truths through moralistic lenses.

The Lambda Literary Review

The judges of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, which is awarded annually to a collection of short stories and/or novellas, have excellent taste. This is a wonderfully different and satisfying short story collection, each story offering up more on subsequent reads. Cain approaches familiar situations - love, loss, shame - from unfamiliar angles, in unique ways, and her stories leave a mark on the reader.

The Short Review

The writing is like sugar water: crisp and clear, with just a hint of poetry running through it.

The Hipster Book Club

The stories were addictive, fascinating splinters off bits of lives, like tiny snow globes shaken in the hand. Shannon Cain is telling these stories, stories about the deceptions we find necessary to make our lives and loves work, and telling them precisely, sharply, in splintery, happy-unhappy prose.

Shelf Love

In Cain’s able hands, resilience and wit lock hands with desire and danger, illuminating the quixotic, sensual nature of our existence. Cain’s work challenges both the tedium and the enormous tension of self-fulfillment. Characters come to unforgettable life in just a few pages.



with Janet Skeslien Charles in Paris

with Larry Dark at The Story Prize

with Robin Black at Beyond the Margins

with Lydia Ship at HTML Giant

with Jenn at Word Brooklyn

with Sonya Chung at Bloom

with Anna Clark at Isak

with Nicholas Maistros at Colorado Review

with the fine folks at The Short Review

with Andria Williams at the Military Spouse Book Review