four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
45-Mar-Apr-2010
By: 
Amy Bloom
user_rating: 
0

A-WhereGodLoveAmy Bloom, a psychotherapist and erstwhile creative writing teacher, has published two novels and three collections of short stories, including the National Book Award finalist Come to Me (1993) and the National Book Critics Circle Award nominee A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (2000).

The Story: In these twelve stories, divided into two sets of four linked stories and four standalone stories, families, friends, and unlikely lovers discover the many ways that love can upend our lives. The first series of stories charts the relationship of William and Clare, two longtime, middle-aged friends who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves passionately attracted to one another despite being married to other people. The second series follows Julia and her stepson Lionel, who, after the death of Lionel’s jazz musician father, express their mutual grief in a way that will haunt them both for the rest of their lives. Each story is a small tribute to human nature at its best and worst.
Random House. 224 pages. $25. ISBN: 9781400063574

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"Bloom’s an economical writer—you don’t gasp at the beauty of her sentences. Still, she’ll make you believe you didn’t just read these stories, but lived them." Jeff Giles

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Where the God of Love Hangs Out is Bloom’s third collection of stories, and one is tempted to say it’s her best. … Where the God of Love Hangs Out is compelling, moving, shocking, written with compassion and understanding and generously reflective of the fragility of our lives." Connie Ogle

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Given the range of both [sets of linked stories], this work of extravagantly fine fiction cannot really be called a short-story collection. It’s more of a reunion, or a set of successfully completed jigsaw puzzles. … But even if its format were more commonplace, Where the God of Love Hangs Out would still be something special." Janet Maslin

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"Bloom’s true mastery comes through her well-drawn characters who stumble through telling scenes as they fall in and out of love. Her playful language blends with her innate sense of psychology to create deeply affecting prose." Susan Wickstrom

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"Where the God of Love Hangs Out puts the full spectrum of her craft on display. … Where the God of Love Hangs Out is Amy Bloom’s latest pop-up book for grown-ups, a stirring stand-up performance by a cast of 3-D characters rendered in sexy, loving, living color." Meredith Maran

Critical Summary

Bloom’s background in psychology gives her amazing insight into the human psyche, which she uses to full advantage in these lovely, mesmerizing stories, written with sympathy and wisdom. The critics seemed genuinely surprised that there could be any uncharted territory in the world of love, but Bloom adeptly maps the human heart without sentimentality or cliché. They lavished praise on her deeply affecting prose and "uncommonly fully formed" characters (New York Times), admiring her use of individual but connected stories to explore their dilemmas in greater detail over the years. Considered by the Miami Herald to be Bloom’s best collection yet, these rich and wonderfully perceptive stories don’t just echo life but invoke it in all its beautiful intensity.

Also by the Author

Away (2007): Twenty-two-year-old Lillian Leyb is haunted by the pogrom that claimed the lives of her family and drove her from Russia, but she builds a new life for herself in 1920s New York. When a relative brings news that her daughter Sophie escaped the pogroms and may still be alive, Lillian drops everything in a desperate bid to find her, setting off on a cross-country adventure and encountering misfortune and an array of oddballs and eccentrics along the way. ( 4.5 of 5 Stars Selection Nov/Dec 2007)