Paper Lantern: Love Stories

Stuart Dybek. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-14644-3
Deception and desire drive the love-crossed characters of Dybek’s (I Sailed With Magellan) aptly titled collection of stories. Like much of his previous work, most of these stories—while not explicitly connected—are set in Chicago and circle similar core themes. The coast is a place of reflection and renewal for a boy with a homemade kite in “Blowing Shades,” and for a caseworker awaiting a giant wave on Lake Michigan in “Seiche.” Other stories focus on brief but passionate relationships. “Waiting” tells of a tryst between a poet consumed with the idea of “waiting” in Hemingway and a Hyde Park graduate student in love with a compulsive collector. “Four Deuces,” the longest story in the collection, is a monologue spoken by a woman to a painter at a bar she used to own. Full of energy and spite, she tells of how she bought the bar after a lucky streak at the horse track, and of how her gambling, layabout boyfriend eventually lost it: “I was too goddamn dumb to tell the difference between love and superstition.” The next story, “The Caller,” is written from the perspective of the same painter. A phone rings endlessly in his empty apartment, his walls spray painted with portraits of his many lovers, all of them trying to call after his sudden disappearance. Employing a range of voices that pulse with intensity, this collection delves into the gray areas of love. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/28/2014
Release date: 06/03/2014
Genre: Fiction
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