Excerpt from Alone With You by Marisa Silver, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Alone With You

Stories

by Marisa Silver

Alone With You
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 164 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 176 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


When Vivian was fourteen, her mother became sick and was on the verge of death. In her mother’s hospital room, Vivian’s parents told her that she was adopted. As it turned out, her mother made a miraculous recovery, but the cat was already out of the bag. The information didn’t have much of an effect on Vivian. She lay in bed trying to feel different, now that she knew that her parents weren’t her real parents, but she didn’t feel different. The words father and mother were inextricably bound to the man and woman in the room down the hall, to her mother’s Je Reviens perfume and her father’s top dresser drawer filled with collar stays and golf tees. She was not imaginative enough to associate any other meaning with the words. She watched a television news show about a famous singer whose daughter had tracked her down after forty years. The famous singer seemed happy to have been found, and the two sat with their arms around each other and took long walks on the bluffs above the ocean, hand in hand. The women’s intimacy made Vivian uncomfortable. Her own mother’s kisses were dry, soft things, her hugs unassertive and prudent, as if she didn’t want to cause Vivian any harm. There was a moment during the show when the two women looked at each other as if to say, “Now what?” and Vivian had the sense that the mother had some misgivings about being found, that having given up a child had become part of her personal mythology, her idea of herself. Now, faced with the real person, she had lost some of the romance of her story. Driving across the desert on her way to Los Angeles, Vivian had seen a billboard announcing that this same singer, who had been very popular in the seventies, would be performing five nights at a casino on an Indian reservation. This strengthened Vivian’s decision not to explore her own adoption. You didn’t always want to know everything.

Sometimes, when Vivian finished transcribing an interview at the adoption agency she would add a note to the bottom of the document offering her opinion of the interviewed couple. No one asked for her advice, but she felt compelled to give it since a life was at stake. Mostly she felt the couples should be allowed to adopt, because whatever flaws they had were no worse than the flaws of people who could have children effortlessly, even thoughtlessly, and she knew that children could survive almost anything. In one case, though, she felt strongly that the husband was unkind to the wife, and she noted this at the bottom of her transcript. She could not explain how she knew this, never having seen the couple. But the woman sounded frightened in a way that set her apart from the other women who were simply nervous during their interviews. She paused before each answer, as if waiting for the man’s permission to speak, and at the end of her answers she always added, “Right, Paul?” The woman who ran the agency reprimanded Vivian for this insight and reminded her that her job was a temporary one. But Vivian kept track and she knew that the couple had not yet been matched with a child.

Shelly gave up looking for work. She said that she had too many projects of her own to concentrate on, and besides, she just wasn’t “the office type.” This statement seemed slightly insulting to Vivian, who clearly was the office type, but she could not discount Shelly’s generosity—the way she paid when they went out to dinner or brought home expensive wine for them to share—and Shelly’s rejection of such commonplace concerns as making a living seemed exotic to Vivian. Shelly spent most of her mornings wandering around their living space in a loosely tied mint-green kimono, her small, freckled breasts winking out from the material as she moved. For a time she took up painting and made large canvases on which she drew crude images of her face struck through with angry slashes of color. She organized a viewing of her work and a hundred strangers showed up at their home. Vivian wore one of Shelly’s beaded dresses and Shelly wore body paint. The guests ate the food that Vivian and Shelly had prepared and refrained from buying anything. Shelly didn’t seem to mind. After a few months the canvases disappeared, though it was unclear to Vivian whether someone had finally bought them or if Shelly had just thrown them into the Dumpster behind the ribbon warehouse to be carted away along with the giant spools of badly dyed grosgrain.

Excerpted from Alone With You by Marisa Silver. Copyright © 2010 by Marisa Silver. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.