Summary and book reviews of Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

Love Begins in Winter

Five Stories

By Simon Van Booy

Love Begins in Winter
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  • Paperback: May 2009,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

On the verge of giving up—anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives—Van Booy's characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
On the verge of giving up—anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives—Van Booy's characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

Questions for Discussion
  1. In the title short story, why do the two main characters hold on to physical things—acorns, stones, mittens, the grandfather's broken chair? Do you see these objects as physical burdens or as lovingly preserved souvenirs? What is your most precious possession and why?

  2. In Love Begins in Winter, the narrator muses that, "The most significant conversations...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Simon Van Booy's characters in Love Begins in Winter dive after love without hesitation, act on mysterious coincidence, and bandage their tragic wounds with new memories. The stories are on the long side (50-70 pages), offering the reader time to piece together the fragments of characters and story. Van Booy writes with a combination of chunky, breath-paused sentences and poetic fluidity. The rhythm reminds me of someone recounting a dream – each detail built upon the last, gaining momentum until the revelation erupts:

One day, George Frack received a letter. It was from very far away. The stamp had a bird on it. Its wings were wide and still. The bird was soaring high above a forest, its body flecked with red sparks. George wondered if the bird was flying to a place or away from it… Then he opened it and found a page of blue handwriting and a photograph of a girl with brown hair. The girl was wearing a navy polyester dress dotted with small red hearts. She also had a pink clip in her hair. Her hands were tiny.

The handwriting was full of loops, as if each letter were a cup held fast upon the page by the heaviness of each small intention.

When George read the page, his mouth fell open and a low groaning resounded from his throat.

Van Booy is generous with philosophical musings and declarations about love, life, memory, which, paired with coincidence and fateful encounters, give these stories an ethereal, other-worldly quality – much like the suspended-in-time feeling of falling in love.

Abbreviated from "Short Stories for Summer" by Lucia Silva  

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Binnie Kirshenbaum
The stories of Love Begins in Winter are stylistically brilliant and emotionally beautiful. I found myself gasping, literally gasping, at surprises so perfectly attuned as to be inevitable. Simon Van Booy is an extraordinary writer, and this is a book to be read and reread again and again.

Publishers Weekly

Though Van Booy's tendency to deliver a late-story surprise becomes predictable, each of these stories has moments of sheer loveliness.

Booklist

More about what is felt than what happens, Van Booy’s stories pay beautiful homage to human connection.

Kirkus Reviews

The author has a pitch-perfect tone for writing about the tender passion. Instead of florid, melodramatic prose, the five tales feature hushed, patient storytelling that's deliberately abstracted; Van Booy's goal is to capture the ineffable nature of falling in love.

Indie Next List Pick

Simon Van Booy's second collection offers intricate stories brimming with supple and mysterious energy. One never knows with Van Booy's distinctive style what will happen next, what will break your heart and heal it at the same time, what symbolic gesture will be rife with coincidence. His writing is pitch-perfect, and he has such great respect for his characters. Van Booy deserves many more fans.

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