The Virginity of Famous Men

Christine Sneed. Bloomsbury, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-62040-695-3
Sneed's impressive and expansive story collection (following Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry) exposes the vulnerabilities of life's many relationships: parents and children, friends, siblings, and lovers. "Beach Vacation" sets the tone for the collection, opening with the strained bond between a mother and her teenage son as she expresses her disappointment over the man he has grown to be. The tension switches from parental failure to comic satire with tales of Hollywood: "The First Wife," about the first wife of a famous movie star and his inevitable infidelity; a middle-aged producer falling for a starstruck wannabe in "The Prettiest Girls"; and, in the title story, an American who flees to Paris to escape his famous father's shadow. Each character's point of view reflects the myriad anxieties of modern life and love, the pressure to make moral choices, the failure of decisions, and the fear of what comes next. When a recently divorced woman finds work at a call center in "Words That Once Shocked Us," she befriends a colleague seeking attention outside her new marriage; she would rather have a friend than no one to share her love with. From the rich and famous to the down and out, Sneed's characters are exposed by life's twists and turns, their inner struggles laid bare as they seek connection to the people they love most . (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-62040-697-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-62040-696-0
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