Where the God of Love Hangs Out|
A collection of Short Stories
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Amy Bloom's new book, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, begins with William and Clare. William and Clare are each married to a member of the "beautiful people;" Clare's husband is the handsome man we all dream about, and William's wife is the perfect spouse who dotes on her husband and manages his life better than any five paid assistants ever could. However, Clare and William have difficulties. Clare is awkward; she doesn’t like her looks and she is disappointed in her life. William is overweight, and his love of high cholesterol food and cigars is moving him rapidly toward an early demise.
William and Clare turn to each other and begin an affair. They are a perfect match because they belong to the “flawed” part of the human race, and their imperfections make them beyond compatible. Is this a sin? Or, is their ineptness at life an excuse to do something truly evil to the ones they love?
We move on to the story of a young girl whose father is a real jerk. He’s not categorized as a physical abuser; he chooses to belittle his kids and treat his wife like a household subservient. The children have prayed for their father to die – even sending him Christmas presents of crystal ash trays and silver cigar cutters to urge him to smoke more and keel over–while offering their mother a reprieve where she could spend at least some years of her life in a semi-state of happiness.
Ms. Bloom then introduces us to a social worker who is a friend to a young patient named Beth, who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria that has taken one of her limbs. The love built between this social worker, Frances, and the child, causes Frances to be humbled by the triumph of this young girl to overcome huge obstacles in order create a worthy, well-lived life.
Another four chapters are dedicated to a woman who loses her husband, has an affair with her step-son after the funeral, and literally follows a family who must overcome guilt in order to restore their lives.
The story of a serial killer then comes into play; a man who has been destroying people all over the NY state area, and kidnapped a young woman by the name of Anne. The story is extremely graphic and centers on Anne’s roommate who is plagued by her friend’s horrific demise.
The short stories are rounded out with a tale of a father and his daughter-in-law as they sit and confess their ultimate sins.
There are moments of wit. There are moments of irony. But, the book could benefit from more good humor. No reader expects love to have only a “lighter” side, but there are many books that explore pain and the complexity of love without having to shock the reader to make a point.
Ms. Bloom is a NY Time bestselling author with many respected credits. She is creative. If her intention was to “shock” or “disturb,” she hit a home-run with this collection. However, the reader may find the “misery-loves-company” characters, their destructive lives, and moments of redemption depressing, as did this reviewer.
Reviewer: Amy Lignor