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The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Storyby Joan Wickersham
I've just started reading Joan Wickersham's seven-story collection, The News from Spain. I'm loving Wickersham's crisp, unpredictable writing in this smart look at the shimmer, the longing, the downright messiness of love.
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the acclaimed memoir The Suicide Index, a virtuosic collection of stories, each a stirring parable of the power of love and the impossibility of understanding, much less controlling, it.
In these seven beautifully wrought variations on a theme, a series of characters trace and retrace eternal yet ever-changing patterns of love and longing, connection and loss. The stories range over centuries and continents — from eighteenth-century Vienna, where Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte are collaborating on their operas, to America in the 1940s, where a love triangle unfolds among a doctor, a journalist, and the president’s wife. A race-car driver’s widow, a nursing-home resident and her daughter, a paralyzed dancer married to a famous choreographer — all feel the overwhelming force of passion and renunciation. With uncanny emotional exactitude, Wickersham shows how we never really know what’s in someone else’s heart, or in our own; how we continually try to explain others and to console ourselves; and how love, like storytelling, is ultimately a work of the imagination.
"Subtitled, Seven Variations on a Love Story, each of the seven stories in this uneven collection is titled The News from Spain and makes ingenious use of that phrase somewhere in the narrative. A mother consigned to a nursing home and her adult daughter engage in an intricate dance of filial obligation after the mother's condition improves. At an all-boys school, a lone female student, 13, develops a friendship with her married Spanish teacher whose secret extracurricular activities will in time bring tragedy to the school. While being interviewed for a biography, the elderly widow of a long-dead race car driver is shocked by a confession from the biographer's wife. A married woman, for the amusement of a co-worker with whom she's in love, invents a story about a WWII-era doctor's relationship with two women. Although the stories are written with intelligence and acutely observed, some have overcomplicated framing devices, and there's not much variation throughout, making the concept feel more like a gimmick than a conceit that illuminates the characters' attempts to connect in a world of hidden desires. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Oct. 11)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Joan Wickersham makes a triumphant return to fiction with The News From Spain. This collection of tales draws forth a fascinating cast of characters.These stories are bound together by the universal search for companionship and understanding.Wickersham articulates subtleties of human behavior that ordinarily elude language altogether; she unveils her characters' unacknowledged thoughts and emotions in a terse style that defies cliché in its commitment to realism. Wickersham paints everyday yet complex portraits of love, filigreed with truths that resonate." Catherine Straut, Elle
"Elegantly structured, emotionally compelling.Wickersham dissects the human heart with precision and restraint that make her work all the more moving. Short stories don't get much better than this." Kirkus Reviews
"The News From Spain evokes hidden topographies of need, and the emotional tipping points that occasionally break through the surface." Megan O'Grady, Vogue.com
"Joan Wickersham has done it again: astonished, enchanted, and moved me, this time in an unorthodox yet classically insightful collection of stories. While each one takes the reader to a world distinctly and alluringly its own, all seven tales come together at the end in a shimmering constellation. Like Alice Munro at her best, Wickersham sees almost too well how the choices we make in our many relationships — with parents, spouses, lovers, teachers, friends; even a chance acquaintance — steer our lives in unpredictable, sometimes shocking ways." Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and The Widower's Tale
"Joan Wickersham's The News from Spain is a kaleidoscopic view of the subject of love. It is amazingly perceptive psychologically, a gorgeous, completely original work. I loved it. As soon as I finished it, I began to read it again." André Gregory, co-author of My Dinner with André
"Joan Wickersham's well-mannered characters control their responses to disappointment with outward finesse, which makes their heartbreak all the more potent. An expert in the he-and-she of it, Wickersham turns the most exquisitely particular truths into universals. The News from Spain is brilliant." Patricia Volk, author of Stuffed and To My Dearest Friends
"Desire is literature's great subject, and yet so rarely can a writer come close to describing the real thing. In The News from Spain, Joan Wickersham has achieved something miraculous: seven prismatic stories that refract the lonely, marvelous, terrible complexity of human longing. Radiant with insight." Suzanne Berne, author of A Crime in the Neighborhood, winner of the Orange Prize
"Love — and all its messy, gorgeous, decimating complications — animates this brilliantly conceived collection of stories. With astonishing acuity, Wickersham illuminates not only our passions but also our abiding consolations." Dawn Raffel, author of Further Adventures in the Restless Universe
"Joan Wickersham's brilliant The News From Spain shows, in all its twisty beauty, what a short story collection can do. The stories are gorgeous in themselves, but the way they speak to each other is truly extraordinary." Elizabeth McCracken, author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination
About the Author
Joan Wickersham was born in New York City. She is the author of two previous books, most recently The Suicide Index, a National Book Award finalist. Her fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her op-ed column appears regularly in The Boston Globe; she has published essays and reviews in the Los Angeles Times and the International Herald Tribune; and she has contributed on-air essays to National Public Radio. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons.
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