07 July 2009

Love Stories in This Town

By Amanda Eyre Ward

I don’t normally like short stories, so I will admit to being a little disappointed when, after buying this book, I realized that it was, alas, a book of short stories. I shouldn’t have been. I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Faithful (or even semi-faithful) readers of my blog know my love for Amanda Eyre Ward. If possible, I think I love her more now. My problem with short stories is that just about the time I get to know the character and care what happens to him/her (in Eyre Ward, it’s almost always “her,” by the way), the story is over and I’m left wanting more. This author, though, is very good with endings that are both satisfying in the sense that they don’t feel forced or contrived, and open enough to allow me some leeway in figuring out just how these women spend the rest of their lives.

As you may anticipate, the stories center around the central characters’ love lives, but not in a stereotypical sense. The little towns and big cities where the women live and work, or where they’ve moved or traveled to, are more than backdrops; they influence the mood and the movement of the plot. For instance, the title comes from a quote at the end of one of the stories. A bartender says, “There are no love stories in this town.” In the reader’s guide at the end of the book, Eyre Ward admits that when she wrote that line, she was a sad graduate student, and it was the first of several stories she would eventually write about “Lola.” Initially, it was a statement about how the character had somehow resigned herself to a loveless life, because of where she lived. As the author wrote more stories about her, though, she realized that the actual commentary was that Lola would eventually leave that town, which she does, and find a better life elsewhere.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book. Inhaled it, practically. I can’t wait for her next one.

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