Where the God of Love Hangs Out: Fiction Paperback – Jan 11 2011
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“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.
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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
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.
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.