The Dark and Other Love Stories

Deborah Willis. Norton, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-28589-5
Willis’s (Vanishing) collection casts a wide net in the search for love. The mélange of characters and plot lines teases at the intricate warp and weft of human (and other) interactions, exploring the myriad lessons our most primal and complex emotion teaches us about identity, ambition, boundaries, connectedness, wanderlust, and addiction. In “Girlfriend on Mars,” a pot-growing slacker’s worst nightmare comes to fruition when his live-in girlfriend—“drug dealer, lapsed Evangelical Christian”—becomes a finalist for a spot on the first mission to the Red Planet. “Todd” examines the relationship among Eddie, a divorced loner; his 10-year-old daughter, Abby; and the eponymous crow who teaches them both about the vagaries of love. “Steve and Lauren: Three Love Stories,” a suite of brief pieces at the book’s end, recalls the work of fabulist Steven Millhauser in its 10-degrees-off-center rumination on murky realities, encapsulated in “The Nap,” in which Willis celebrates the delicious uncertainty of love and life: “Life seemed so solid once, but now had melted like Dalí’s watch and slipped through their fingers.” This is a poignant and fitting end to such an accomplished, vivid, and memorable collection. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 02/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-670-06957-6
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