Hello, my name is Jodi, and I’m in reading purgatory. Stuck in the middle of a book, for no reason other than life interrupting. But because this book happens to be an historical epic—I like to blame the genre, not my sense of recall, every time I pick it up, I have to scramble back and read up and review to keep the characters straight. To put it mildly, it makes reading a whole lot less enjoyable. And it makes me less pleasant to the perfectly innocent real life events and people that interrupt me.
So it is with pleasure and an appreciation for the kindred reading spirits I’ve found here, that I offer my temporary refuge: the short story collection. I consider it nothing less than serendipity that Amy Bloom’s collection, Where The God of Love Hangs Out is out in paperback now.
If you’re not familiar with Amy Bloom you’re in for a treat. I read her first collection of stories, Come to Me, when it first came out over ten years ago, and I can remember certain lines and images in vivid detail. (And given my current reading dilemma, you can see what I’m working with in terms of memory capacity.) Bloom writes about characters connecting and misconnecting in gorgeous language that’s gorgeous for managing to seem ordinary when it’s anything but. The prose is achingly authentic: there are no dazzling epiphanies for characters who can’t or won’t extend their emotional reach that far. But she is generous to a fault. There are characters in Where the God of Love Hangs Out that I didn’t want to like, but Bloom’s writing doesn’t allow the luxury. She invites you in to see the emotional center of her characters—it narrows the distance between the experience of reading and such readerly judging.
The collection offers the best of both worlds. Each story is self-contained, but many are linked, following the same characters. In other words, you don’t need to be stuck in reading purgatory with me to enjoy Bloom’s stories.