Hanging Out with Some Great Short Stories

I’ve just finished reading Amy Bloom’s latest collection of short stories, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, and if your book group enjoys discussing short stories, I’d suggest you take a look at this title.  I hadn’t read Bloom before, but I’d heard good things about her, and now I’d have to say — the comments were all true.

Bloom has a totally distinctive voice, which is one of the qualities I enjoyed most about her stories.  The characters she creates are recognizable but unusual — they seem real, but you probably haven’t met people exactly like them in any other stories or books you’ve read.  And her tone is wonderful : sensuous, insightful, laced with wry humor and sharply observed details.

Several of the stories in the book are connected, which is one of the reasons I wanted to read it — I’m intrigued by the idea of tales about the same people stretching over a period of years.  As the title suggests, these are stories of love, but told with a certain attitude, and I found them mesmerizing.  My favorites centered on a widow and her stepson and their intense relationship — and how it affects the other family members over time.  I also liked the stories about two middleaged friends, married to others, who become involved in a long, complicated love affair marked by a great deal of  pain and difficulty.  And then there’s the powerful tale of a young woman, haunted by the death of her college roommate, while locked in a continuing series of complicated and wrenching telephone conversations with the dead girl’s mother.

Other stories in the collection pull the reader into a touching relationship involving an unhappy man and his insecure daughter-in-law, who find a meaningful connection with each other; and a social worker who tries to escape her uncomfortable family ties by immersing herself in the life of a client, a young woman ravaged by a horrible disease.  

Of Amy Bloom, The New Yorker has written:  “She gets more meaning into individual sentences than most authors manage in whole books.”  I would agree.  You should read her stories — and talk about them. 

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About the Author:

Ted Balcom lives in Arlington Heights, IL and conducts workshops on leading book discussions, about which he has also published a book: Book Discussions for Adults: A Leader’s Guide (American Library Association, 1992).

1 Comment on "Hanging Out with Some Great Short Stories"

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  1. pgilbertsen@hotmail.com' Peggy Gilbertsen says:

    Am Bloom is fine writer,I’ve read Away and Love Invents Us. Her writing flows so beautifully and she is so adept at capturing the joys and heartaches of all types of interpersonal relationships. I am always so impressed by the quality and simplicity of her writing, never too flowery or overdone, but she cuts to the bone with her visceral observations of human nature attempts at love and attachment.

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