cover image Trysting


Emmanuelle Pagano, trans. from the French by Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis. Two Lines (PGW, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-931883-56-6

All the heartache and ecstasies of love—along with the textures, material trappings, and little banalities that color any relationship—are laid bare in Pagano’s series of vignettes, which crosses boundaries of gender, age, and sexuality to create a vivid impression of modern love. Readers meet lovers confronting shared joy, last illness, jealousy, and chance meetings; the speakers are unnamed, and their confessions run the gamut of amorous experience, from accounts of sex to a soon-to-be-separated husband lingering over the contents of his wife’s suitcase. In one bittersweet sketch, a widow discovers her husband’s correspondence with his lover; others feature a saxophonist who nurses a crush on the neighbor who comes to complain about the noise, a jilted lover who takes possession of his partner’s collection of feathers and scatters them throughout the city, and a retelling of Cinderella in miniature as a theatergoer fastens a lost sandal to a woman’s “bare foot, her summer foot.” Many of these vignettes are only a line or two long, reading merely “We have never wept at the same time” or “In the shower, the falling water redraws the shape of her spine,” but each manages to capture the content of a love story from a fresh perspective. What emerges is an astonishing portrait of what it is to love and to be loved. (Nov.)