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