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A Multitude of Sins
by Richard Ford
ISBN 0747585288 / 9780747585282 / 0-7475-8528-8
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing Inc
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Love, and our frequent failure to meet its challenges, is the subject of Richard Ford's wonderfully insightful collection of short stories, A Multitude of Sins. The understated prose is shot through with an incisive, empathetic, and not at all cynical understanding of the psyche of Middle America, with which fans of Ford's previous novels, The Sportswriter and its Pulitzer Prize-winning sequel, Independence Day, will be familiar. These stories are inhabited by characters for whom love has become a moral maze rather than a clearly defined path towards fulfillment.
In "Reunion," a man accidentally encounters the husband of a woman with whom he had an affair, and he is forced to relive an episode of his life he would rather have forgotten. In another story, a young couple is driving to a dinner party when the wife discloses an affair that she's been having with their host. Ford seems to be more interested in examining the aftermath of their infidelities than the affairs themselves--in particular, what happens when intimacy fails to provide the anticipated satisfaction. There are no easy, moral solutions at the end of each tale, no sense of peace or wisdom that the characters can attain. Instead, they are left to contemplate the repercussions of their actions and to try to salvage some greater self-understanding from the morass. By holding up this mirror to our own lives, Ford renders A Multitude of Sins an unsettling but rewarding read. --Jane Morris, Amazon.co.uk [via]