It’s been a funny day. I’ve been torn between a sense of restlessness and an equally present sense of ennui. Do I ride my bicycle or lay outside under the tree? Do I clean the kitchen floor, or make myself some tea and toast? Do I write a Sunday Salon post or finish reading Where the God of Love Hangs Out?
Obviously, at least at this moment, I’ve chosen to write. I will finish reading that book today, because it’s rather un-put-downable. (By the way, is there a real word for a book you simply can’t stop reading? There should be, I think. Put on your thinking caps, dear readers, and offer up some suggestions.)
If you aren’t familiar with it, Where the God of Love Hangs Out is a collection of short stories by Amy Bloom, who I’m about to add to my Favorite Female Author list. These are interconnected stories, a genre of which I’m becoming quite fond. The thing that always bothers me most about short stories is the feeling of readus interruptus…just when I’m getting familiar with the characters and developing some feelings about them, then pffft – the story’s over. The interconnected story collections allow me to pretend that I’m reading a novel (or a novella at the very least).
In this particular book, Bloom offers two story “quartets” – one about two middle aged people, who have been part of a pair of friends, and suddenly find themselves drawn to one another in a romantic way. The other about the changing relationship between a mother and stepson over a 30 year time period. There are other independent stories as well, but it is these eight tales that make up the bulk of this book.
I’m finding Bloom’s writing very lovely. She has an ear and eye for the small detail, a nicely subtle sense of humor, and an acute sense for what real people do and feel. Here’s Julia, the mother in the set of stories entitled Lionel and Julia, on the day after her husband’s funeral…
I went to the grocery store and bought weird, disconnected items: artichoke hearts for Lionel, who was dead; red caviar to make into a dip for his son, whose life I had just ruined; peanut butter with the grape jelly already striped into it for Buster, as a special treat that he would probably have outgrown by the time I got back; a pack of Kools for me, who stopped smoking fifteen years ago. I also bought a wood-refinishing kit, a jar of wax, a six-pack of Michelob Light, five TV dinners, some hamburger but no buns, and a box of Pop Tarts. Clearly the cart of a woman at the end of her rope.
These are good stories for me today, because they’re rather like holding up a mirror to my own unsatisfied self.
Now tell me, how are you doing on this summer Sunday afternoon?