Marisa Silver dazzled and inspired readers with her critically acclaimed The God of War (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist), praised by Richard Russo as a novel of great metaphorical depth and beauty. In this elegant, finely wrought new collection, Alone With You, Silver has created eight indelible stories that mine the complexities of modern relationships and the unexpected ways love manifests itself. Her brilliantly etched characters confront lifes abrupt and unsettling changes with fear, courage, humor, and overwhelming grace.
In the O. Henry Prizewinning story The Visitor, a VA hospital nurses aide contends with a family ghost and discovers the ways in which her own past haunts her. The reticent father in Pond is confronted with a Solomonic choice that pits his love for his daughter against his feelings for her young son. In Night Train to Frankfurt, first published in The New Yorker, a daughter travels to an alternative-medicine clinic in Germany in a gambit to save her mothers life. And in the title story, a woman vacations in Morocco with her family while contemplating a decision that will both ruin and liberate them all.
From Temporary, where a young woman confronts the ephemeral nature of companionship, to Three Girls, in which sisters trapped in a snowstorm recognize the boundaries of childhood, the nuanced voices of Alone With You bear the hallmarks of an instant classic from a writer with unerring talent and imaginative resource. Silver has the extraordinary ability to render her fictional inhabitants instantly relatable, in all their imperfections. Her stories have the singular quality of looking in a mirror. We see at once what is familiar and what is strange. In these stirring narratives, we meet ourselves anew.
Below is the complete text of "Temporary"....
Vivian and Shelly lived in downtown Los Angeles, in an industrial space that belonged, nominally, to a ribbon factory whose warehouse was attached. Shelly discovered it one night when the band she belonged to had played at an impromptu concert there. When the evening was over and everyone had cleared out, Shelly and a man shed met that evening stayed on. The man left soon afterward, but Shelly did not. She worked out an arrangement with the owner of the ribbon factory: the rent would be paid in cash, and if Shelly was discovered by the housing authorities, the owner would claim that she was a squatter.
Vivian met Shelly at the temp agency where they both applied for work. She had just finished two years of community college in Oklahoma and moved to L.A. Shelly offered her a small room in return for half the rent. She couldnt guarantee that they wouldnt be thrown out in a week or a month, but it was cheaper ...
Alone With you is a jewel. Actually a cache of many gems, each one complete and powerful in both the feelings that they evoke and the eloquent way in which they unfold. ... this collection of tales is about ordinary, down to earth people, trying to make sense out of life's messiness. We easily identify with them and see ourselves, our own lives played out in the defining moments of their journeys. We ache for them and with them, for their dilemmas, their hardships and their sorrows. Yet even as they falter and stumble, they determinedly move forward with quiet strength and grace, not a whiner in the lot.
(Reviewed by BJ Nathan Hegedus).
Full Review (1131 words).
Are you an eeker or a gusher? Do you have to go back and enlarge what you have first written or do you delete and tighten things up?
I love that distinction eeker vs. gusher! I am definitely an eeker. I work slowly and I attempt to work steadily. I try to write a certain number of pages every single day. But I rarely sit down and have any idea of what I'm going to do next. I feel like I'm always in a dark tunnel pawing my way forward, tripping, bashing my head it ain't pretty!
Do you have your stories figured out before you put pen to paper or do you let them work themselves out as you go along?
I never have stories worked out. I usually begin with a shred of a notion, some particular ...
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