Marry or Burn

Valerie Trueblood, Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-58243-598-5
Trueblood's title sets the stage for a collection concerned with relationships and their perils, but these 12 startling tales of love and loss come as a welcome surprise. Trueblood (Seven Loves) catches the reader off guard from the start by opening with a story about a woman serving time in prison for murdering her husband. The stories that follow address relationships from refreshingly oblique angles: a teenage boy deals with his mother's infant son born out of wedlock in "Luck"; in the formally daring "Invisible River," a mother has an intimate dance with her daughter's ex-lover at the daughter's wedding. Secondary characters and narrative tangents envelope the larger plot and reveal hidden layers, resulting in a panoramic view of contemporary romantic rituals. Bracing honesty and elegant turns of phrase ("She put a lament into the name") mask the few moments when narrative details get lost. Trueblood's saturated prose imparts each story with a unique atmosphere and infuses the collection with an understanding that to love is to live, for better or for worse. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/27/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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