cover image The End of Love

The End of Love

trans. from the Spanish by Katherine Silver. McSweeney’s, $22 (176p) ISBN 978-1-938073-56-4

“But what is the problem?” asks a character in Torrente’s translated debut. Indeed, that’s the question we ask of every couple in this four-story collection, which, as its title suggests, explores the “whys” and “hows” of romantic unraveling. In “We Were Surrounded by Palm Trees,” a man recalls how his marriage imploded during a vacation, but because we meet the couple late into their romance, we’re not sufficiently invested in a “happier ending” version. Luckily, the subsequent stories introduce couples early, binding them before splitting them apart. In “Captives,” a dysfunctional couple hold each other captive, neither connecting nor disconnecting, each acting as both prisoner and warden. In “Joanna,” an orphan develops a relationship with a lonely girl whose complicated family dynamics he cannot understand. And in “The Last Cold Front,” a child of divorced parents in 1980s Madrid observes how the unconditionally loved take advantage of the unconditionally loving. Torrente’s endings vary in texture and inevitability: a change in the partner, or in the perception thereof; interfering circumstances; habits upheld at the expense of happiness; resentments accrued. The stories offer a language of how distance develops—“both of us were more reluctant to recognize ourselves in the other”—and the usual “problems” of love seem new and alive under the microscope of these deep, delicate studies. (Oct. 15)