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Come to Me: Stories
by Amy Bloom
ISBN 0060995149 / 9780060995140 / 0-06-099514-9
Publisher Harper Perennial
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Amy Bloom's 1993 collection, Come to Me, is filled with yearning mysteries of romantic and familial love that are far more complex than the phrase "love story" allows. The first sentence of the first story, "Love Is Not a Pie," evinces the contradictions, layers, and interconnections of her narrator's existence--and hooks the reader entirely. "In the middle of the eulogy at my mother's boring and heart-breaking funeral, I began to think about calling off the wedding." The title phrase means exactly what it says: Lila's mother didn't have a finite amount of affection and was lucky not to be forced to choose between love's accepted forms and a more unusual one: "People think that it can't be that way, but it can. You just have to find the right people." Lila realizes that she needs to get out of her engagement because she isn't ready for normality.
The unusual pervades these stories, and Bloom handles some outsized events with delicacy and humor. In "Sleepwalking," a new widow sends her stepson away after they've slept together, because she wants him to have a normal life. The author makes us aware that there's something terrible and foolhardy about this woman's decision. Several other characters find themselves in equally desperate situations, their only consolation being recollections of earlier bliss, often sensual: "It was like nothing else in my life, that river of love that I could dip into and leave and return to once more and find it still flowing." For them, memories of past happiness makes present sorrow bearable. [via]