Friday, June 4, 2010

Book Recommendation: Where the God of Love Hangs Out: Fiction by Amy Bloom

For years, I included volumes of short stories in my reading lists and still own several, collected against that day when I run out of things to read or the library is unavailable.  The reality is that I have moved away from reading short stories.  I do continue to (try to) write them occasionally and understand the undeniable creativity and craft that goes into a good one.  Most recently, I have more enjoyed really long novels that I can live with and in for weeks at a time, something the best short story can't do.

Amy Bloom's Where the God of Love Hangs Out features two sets of connected stories, providing the time and space to more fully develop character and plot.  I enjoy this format for the resulting length and depth of the series, as well as the natural stopping places provided at the end of each story.  (I do a lot of my reading "in-between" tasks, as a break and a reward for accomplishment.)

As the title implies, the focus is on love in its many forms.  A resulting sexual relationship in the first of the series is adulterous and in the second, between a stepmother and stepson after the husband/father has died.  Bloom gets to the heart of the matter for those who will move beyond any natural distaste for such relationships.  Her talent for creating multifaceted characters and situations can bring us to the point that we understand what motivates ourselves and others to do the things that we do, without necessarily approving of what has been done.  That, to me, is an important quality of fiction, and why I read what some would consider unsavory -- what some would not approve as worthy of reading.

In the book I'll be recommending next, the young protagonist comments that some books tell stories (showing you life as you want it to be) and some books tell truths (showing you life as it really is).  The first kind, she says, makes you cheerful and contented and the second shakes you up.  I believe that the stories in Where the God of Love Hangs Out belongs to the second category.  It takes us to the place where we recognize ourselves and others.  And that's a good thing.

Annie Joy


colleen said...

So much writing, so little reading time. I'm slowly getting through Eat Pray Love.

Thanks for visiting my blog and surprising me.

Annie Joy said...

Colleen, Eat Pray Love is on my reading list. I will look forward to new posts on your blog. Annie


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