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Where the God of Love Hangs Out: Fiction [Paperback]

Amy Bloom
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2011 Random House Reader's Circle
Love, in its many forms and complexities, weaves through this collection by Amy Bloom, the New York Times bestselling author of Away. Bloom’s astonishing and astute stories illuminate the mysteries of passion, family, and friendship. A young woman is haunted by her roommate’s murder; a man and his daughter-in-law confess their sins in the unlikeliest of places; two middle-aged, married friends find themselves surprisingly drawn to each other, risking all for their love but never underestimating the cost. Propelled by Bloom’s dazzling prose, unmistakable voice, and generous wit, Where the God of Love Hangs Out takes us to the margins and the centers of people’s emotional lives, exploring the changes that come with love and loss.

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Review

“Beautifully astute . . . extravagantly fine fiction.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Wise and resounding . . . [Amy] Bloom joins the ranks of the unforgettable: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s eyeless time; Virginia Woolf’s impassivity in the progress of her characters’ lives.”—Los Angeles Times

“[Bloom] writes in beautifully wrought prose, with spunky humor and a flair for delectably eccentric details. . . . Brava.”—The New York Times Book Review

“To read Bloom is to fall in love—with her characters and with the magic that language can make.”—More
 
“Stirring . . . Characters [are] rendered in sexy, loving, living color.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[An] indelible new collection . . . Bloom illuminates the way our affections define us, old and young, for better or worse.”—People
 
“Moving, shocking, written with compassion and understanding and generously reflective of the fragility of our lives.”—The Miami Herald

About the Author

Amy Bloom is the author of the bestselling and acclaimed Away; Come to Me, a National Book Award finalist; A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Love Invents Us; and Normal. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Granta, and Slate, among other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. Bloom teaches creative writing at Yale University.
 


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars So boring... Aug. 5 2012
By Pat the cat TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This is my first book by this author and definitely the last. I found the beginning of this book so boring that I gave up by page 25. I figure that if she couldn't grab my interest within the first 25 pages, this book wasn't for me. It sounded like it was going to glorify marital infidelity -- it's not a topic that I find entertaining. I feel bad for this but I rate it 1 star out of 5 (very boring).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This collection of stories will blow into your life and stay with you long after the literary storm is over Jan. 25 2010
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Amy Bloom is a great writer. Period. She, in this reviewer's opinion, is perfection. Every word is just right, every character someone you could know. And one feels privileged having been allowed to breach the forcefield of her imagination.

WHERE THE GOD OF LOVE HANGS OUT is an often funny, always awe-inspiring journey into the lives of very different American families who experience the common traumas of life, such as aging and death. Throughout the eras, we see these families growing up and growing apart, falling in love, cheating, and learning to live with --- and without --- one another. Every moment is authentic, genuine and utterly unique. Bloom's quiet mastery of her craft takes us into the heart of a group of human beings who will feel like members of your own family by the time the last page is turned.

One such group is best friends Claire and William. William is an overweight bon vivant with a penchant for cigars, comfort foods and said best friend. Although they are married to kind, attractive and doting people, their attraction to each other gets the best of them, and they launch a full-fledged infidelity attack during a late-night movie viewing. Their affair continues for some time, despite both of them having what seems like very loving marriages. Eventually, they extricate themselves from their marriages and come together only to find out that happily isn't really ever after. Do they deserve what they get? Is there any hope for a relationship created on lies and deception? There are no judgments here, no aspersions cast --- Bloom just offers the emotional parameters that define their choices and allows the reader to make their own decisions about the consequences.

This is just one of the stories in this book and perhaps the one that will cause the reader less distress than any other. One such tale, for example, concerning the truly shocking but understandably emotional responses to death that brings a woman and her stepson unnaturally close, has repercussions that last well beyond their simple home life.

Bloom doesn't pick her battles; rather, she presents situations and allows the characters to play out their responses to them in their own ways. None of them act in a manner most would expect, and yet all of their actions make sense given the sensory clues Bloom chooses to pepper throughout her stories.

WHERE THE GOD OF LOVE HANGS OUT has a beautiful Magritte-like cover of cherries and a natural setting that shows storm clouds on a horizon. From front cover to back, this collection of stories will blow into your life and stay with you long after the literary storm is over.

--- Reviewed by Jana Siciliano
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Already published Feb. 8 2010
By Karen Hardcastle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love Amy Bloom and as such own all of her previous books. So I was a little annoyed when I realized that three of stories in this book had been previously published in Come to Me and Even a Blind Man can See How Much I Love You. I understand collecting things previously published in magazines, but in other books makes me nuts. I buy a lot of books and don't need to buy anything twice. That being said - the stories are lovely - managing to convey romance, regret and a sense of the miracle of life all at once. If you haven't already read her other collections this one is certainly worth it.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars where the god of love hangs out Jan. 30 2010
By valibrarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Amy Bloom reached the bestseller list with her novel "Away", the strange but fascinating tale of a young Jewish woman 100 years ago who decides to cross a continent alone in search of her missing daughter. This new book is a collection of short stories that are linked by several sets of characters. In that regard, this collection resembles "Olive Kitteridge", the pulitzer prize winner from Elizabeth Strout. It's similar writing insofar as Amy Bloom has the complete skill set- beautiful style, deep and memorable characters, brilliant exploration of human relationships. Warning, these stories involve intense situations of loss, love, longing, and survival, and it is too much to absorb at one sitting- the book should be read over several days in small doses. It's also not for fans of Patterson or Dan Brown, because you have to get very involved in it and go slow. But it is very rewarding. I would definitely read whatever Bloom puts out. Bloom teaches creative writing at Yale University.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another home run for Amy Bloom!! Feb. 27 2010
By Larry Hoffer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amy Bloom is one of my favorite authors. Some of her short stories--in Love Invents Us, Come to Me and A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You--are among the best I've ever read. And her latest story collection, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, is a worthy addition to this list.

There are two sets of interrelated stories in this collection and some unrelated ones. The first set chronicles William and Clare, lifelong friends who, unbeknownst to their spouses, are falling in love with each other late in life. The stories are told from both William and Clare's points-of-view and see them both through ups and downs. The second set follows Julia, the new widow of a famous jazz musician, and her stepson, Lionel, as they make their ways through life. The other stories touch on various aspects of love, life and relationships, and each is memorable in its own way.

Bloom is at her best in this collection. In thinking about these stories, I'm struck by something a reviewer of this book said in Entertainment Weekly: Bloom's writing doesn't stop you in your tracks, but it grabs your heart. I'd agree. Don't miss this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Successful, if not very endearing April 11 2010
By C. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Amy Bloom's Where the God of Love Hangs Out clearly aims to be a series of meditations on unusual instances of love. It examines the bearers of that love, their relationships to each other and to small but widely varying peripheral casts, and does its best to make no judgments, to present them to us and make way for our own assessment. As a treatment of the subject of love in all its agony and splendor etc., the stories are an impressive success. But as a series of engrossing and moving tales, they are far less so.

The book is divided into two primary sequences of stories chronicling two rather unusual couples, punctuated by several shorter stand-alone pieces. Characters are often well developed and detailed, and the manifestations of love are, of course, interesting and compelling in their own way. But where Bloom falls short is in her efforts to make them likable, to draw us in and force us to invest ourselves in their troubles and triumphs.

The first sequence follows William and Clare, aging extramarital lovers whose respective spouses are more suited for each other than for them. The second follows Lionel and Julia, a stepmother/stepson pair brought together by a connection that I never entirely bought into. These relationships are ambitious in scope, and occasionally they do ring true enough to move the reader, but a great deal of time is spent on circumstances surrounding the love, so that almost no attention is paid to the love itself. The characters that result are often hollow and bare, in spite of the careful effort on the part of the author to flesh them out and make them come alive for us.

There are a handful of moments in the collection that reached me, the most powerful of which occurred in the final lines of the independent story "Between Here and Here." But for the most part the men and women that populate this book are busy making each other and themselves miserable, which is only interesting to a point. And by far the greatest misstep Bloom makes is to rely too much on the presence, immediate or not, of death in her stories--the device is so frequent as to become distracting.

Stylistically, the experience is a joy; Bloom's words are well-chosen and to the point. But for those looking for more than a strictly literary read (and by that I mean a warmer, chewier take on traditional romantic love), this is an overwhelmingly bittersweet, if not downright unhappy, book that deals with its subject in a detached and intellectual manner, leaving it feeling more than a little sterile. This is not to say that it can't be a fun or rewarding read, but don't let the title fool you: wherever the God of Love hangs out, it's not here.
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