Excerpt from The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Remedy for Love

by Bill Roorbach

The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach X
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2014, 320 pages
    Jun 2015, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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The Remedy for Love

The young woman ahead of him in line at the Hannaford Superstore was unusually fragrant, smelled like wood smoke and dirty clothes and cough drops or maybe Ben Gay, eucalyptus anyway. She was all but mummified in an enormous coat leaking feathers, some kind of army-issue garment from another era, huge hood pulled over her head. Homeless, obviously, or as homeless as people were in this frosty part of the world—maybe living in an aunt's garage or on her old roommate's couch, common around Woodchuck (actually Woodchurch, though the nickname was used more often), population six thousand, more when the college was in session, just your average Maine town, rural and self-sufficient.

Idly, Eric watched her unload her cart: he knew her situation too well. Sooner or later she'd be in trouble, either victim or perpetrator, and sooner or later he or one of seven other local lawyers would be called upon to defend her, or whomever had hurt her, a distasteful task in a world in which no social problem was addressed till it was a disaster, no compensation.

Ten years before, new at the game, he might have had some sympathy, but he'd been burned repeatedly. Always the taste of that Corky Beaulieu kid he'd spoken for and sheltered and finally gotten off light and who'd emptied Eric's bank account using a stolen check and considerable charm at the friendly local bank, and who'd then proceeded to drive Eric's first and only brand-new car all the way to Florida before killing that college kid in a bar fight and immolating himself (and the car, of course, total destruction) in a high-speed chase with Orlando's finest.

Her shopping, pathetic: two large bags tortilla chips, a bag of carrots, a bag of oranges, four big cans baked beans—a good run—but then three boxes of Pop-tarts and innumerable packets of ramen noodles, six boxes generic mac and cheese, two boxes of wine. The one agreeable thing after the produce was coffee, freshly ground, also a sheaf of unbleached coffee filters. Finally, a big bottle of Advil.

Eric turned his attention to Jennifer Aniston on the cover of five different tabloids. Was she aging well? Had she gained a lot of weight? Was a minidress appropriate? Some people in this world got all the attention. Eric noted with odd pleasure that Ms. Aniston was older than he, if not by much.

In a subdued voice, the young woman chose plastic over paper, and the kindly old bagger in his apron and bowtie packed her purchases carefully, well behind the checkout lady's pace. But good for Hannaford, Eric thought, hiring the guy at no-doubt minimum wage with his savings all eaten up by his wife's final illness—the sadness of late-life loss was in the old bird's eyes and posture, even in his hands.

The checkout lady was gruff and impatient, already turning to Eric's stuff, which probably looked perverse compared with the girl's, and had come from the new "gourmet" section of the market: organic jalapenos, organic Asian eggplants, organic red bell peppers, a bunch of organic kale for braising, two huge organic onions, a tiny bottle of fine Tuscan olive oil, five pounds good flour, French yeast in cakes, a huge chunk of very, very expensive raw-milk Parmesan (Reggiano, of course), two bottles Cotes du Rhone—and not just any old Cotes du Rhone but Alison's favorite, thirty-four bucks a pop. Also a packet of Bic razors, the new, good ones with five blades and a silicone-lubricating strip, thick green handles. He was planning to cook for Alison—they'd always had fun making pizzas—and she liked her wine, also his chin, closely shaven, had once bitten him there in passion, but only once, and a long time ago. And fruit: he'd picked out the one ripe mango in the whole display in the event of an Alison morning, unlikely, also a dozen eggs.

Excerpted from The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach. Copyright © 2014 by Bill Roorbach. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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