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This Is Between Usby Kevin Sampsell
Sampsell's gorgeous novel is an intricate and layered account of a relationship on its trajectory of either success or failure. The tiny snippets of interaction between the nameless couple begin to pile up and form the texture of this sometimes troubled, sometimes blissful union. The use of "you" and "I" as the only identifiers connects the reader to the characters in a profound way; this relationship is mine and yours and everyone's. Beautifully illustrating the slightly skewed way in which we somehow miss each other, or the glorious way in which we connect, This Is Between Us is a marvel: a two-way mirror that sees all.
Synopses & Reviews
Chronicling five years of a troubled romance,This Is Between Us offers an intimate view of one couples struggle — from the illicit beginnings of sexual obsession to the fragile architecture of a pieced-together family. Full of sweet moments, emotional time bombs, unexpected humor, and blunt sexuality, the daily life of this man and woman, both recently divorced, with children and baggage in tow, emerges in all of its complexity. In this utterly engrossing debut novel, Kevin Sampsell delivers a confessional tale of love between two resilient people who have staked their hearts on each other.
"This well-written but often frustrating novel chronicles five years in a relationship between an unnamed narrator and his unnamed lover, who are hipsters living in Oregon. Each has a child from a previous relationship. Each works, vaguely and unseriously. And each has a rich history of past lovers who pop into the present tense with regularity (the narrator makes out with an old girlfriend in a bar and semi-stalks others by driving past their houses). The gossamer-thin plot charts the ebb and flow of love, but this is no conventional narrative. Instead, Sampsell frames his book as one long address by the narrator to his lover — one consisting of telling moments and epiphanies rendered in precise, poetic prose, more like a journal or memoir than a novel. In between these, the book ranges from the banally familiar (the egocentric fascination of romantic love, the pangs of disintegration) to the willfully perverse, particularly sexual memories and fantasies both absurd and disturbing (but not particularly erotic). This sad sack of a narrator overshares in the extreme, no doubt in the pursuit of some kind of honesty, but emerges as too thoughtless and even amoral for his musings on love to have much resonance." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"This Is Between Us is an imperturbable, strange, melancholy (but never maudlin) piece of work. Kevin Sampsell straddles the line between candor and oversharing with an artful grace I found infectious." Patrick deWitt, author of Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers
"This Is Between Us is an utterly unsentimental and deeply nuanced portrait of a relationship. With great delicacy and compassion, Kevin Sampsell unflinchingly examines love from every angle — sacred and profane, transcendent and mundane. This is Between Us asserts that messy, terrifying, imperfect love is worth it, after all. After reading it, you'll be a believer." Jillian Lauren, author of NY Times best-selling memoir Some Girls and Pretty
"Here is the quiet, funny, heartbreak truth of Real Love. Read it and weep." Amelia Gray, author of Threats
"In This Is Between Us Kevin Sampsell writes with grace and intimacy about the toughest subject of all — love — and manages to capture a relationship in its natural state: wry and wistful, strange and sexy, humming with desire, quaking with vulnerability." Jess Walter, #1 New York Times Best Selling author of Beautiful Ruins
"This Is Between Us lets the reader under the covers of what it means to be in human relationships — not the lame-o story everyone so desperately wants to smoothly fit within, but the crumpled and stained and yet still beautiful version we actually live. Kevin Sampsell has written the pieces of our glorious failures and fleeting victories with such poignancy my head and my heart are laughing, bleeding, and, above all, dreaming onward. You want this book more than Facebook and chocolate. I love it with my whole body." Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water
"Finely detailed and beautifully observed, This Is Between Us captures the humorous and heart-wrenching intimacies of two people in love. Kevin Sampsell sheds exquisite insight into the way a hundred ordinary moments in a relationship add up to something extraordinary and deeply meaningful. This novel is moving, surprising, and utterly absorbing — I couldn't put it down." Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart Is an Idiot, creator of Found Magazine, contributor to public radio's This American Life
"Kevin Sampsell is the original unadorned romantic. His writing makes you love him, and it's easy all the way down. This Is Between Us really DOES feel like you and he are sharing these intimacies — sexy, honest moments that not everyone is lucky enough to experience."Susie Bright, author of Big Sex, Little Death
Spanning five years of one relationships ups and downs — the insecurities and passions, the sadness and joy, the hopes and disappointments — This Is Between Us is a detailed portrait of a man and a woman, both divorced, both with a child, and both trying to create a good life together in Portland, Oregon. Full of sweet moments, emotional time bombs, blunt sexuality, and laugh-out-loud scenes, This Is Between Us is an intimate collection of personal moments that come together to form a complete view of a troubled romance and the people whose hearts are at stake.
About the Author
Kevin Sampsell is the author of the memoir, A Common Pornography (2010 Harper Perennial), and the short story collection, Creamy Bullets (Chiasmus) and the editor of the anthology, Portland Noir (Akashic).
Sampsell is the publisher of the micropress, Future Tense Books, which he started in 1990. He has worked at Powell's Books as an events coordinator and the head of the small press section for fifteen years. His essays have appeared recently in Salon, The Faster Times, Jewcy, and The Good Men Project. His fiction has been published in McSweeney's, Nerve, Hobart, and in several anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.
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