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Asking for Love and Other Stories
     

Asking for Love and Other Stories

by Roxana Robinson
 

Called "John Cheever's heir apparent" by the New York Times Book Review, Roxana Robinson, the author of A Glimpe of Scarlet, chronicles the carefully hidden realities of WASP family life in this stunning new collection set in Manhattan, Connecticut, Long Island, and Maine, and peopled with men and women whose lives are in various stages of repair or

Overview

Called "John Cheever's heir apparent" by the New York Times Book Review, Roxana Robinson, the author of A Glimpe of Scarlet, chronicles the carefully hidden realities of WASP family life in this stunning new collection set in Manhattan, Connecticut, Long Island, and Maine, and peopled with men and women whose lives are in various stages of repair or disarray.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in Manhattan townhouses, ancestral country homes and island getaways, the 15 stories in Robinson's second collection (after A Glimpse of Scarlet) serve as clear windows into the posh world of East Coast WASPs. What's revealed within their elegantly constructed frames isn't picture-perfect, however, as the author subtly plumbs modern-often fragmented-family dynamics, and the trials of the unhappily wed, the broken-up and the back-together, as well as the travails of the children who must adapt to them. In "Mr. Sumarsono" (which was included in Best American Short Stories, 1994), Robinson delineates how a 10-year-old girl who believes her single mother to be an embarrassment comes to realize that their houseguest, an Indonesian diplomat, instead views her as a "glowing, self-assured, generous woman." With irony and suspense, "Slipping Away" recounts how a woman conducting a cautious affair is tormented by her husband's spying. Finally, she is worn down from her customarily placid and organized existence into what she considers to be the "landscape of drama and passion" of her Spanish-speaking maid. In "Leaving Home," 13-year-old Alison Thatcher believes herself a "fraud," interpreting the raging emotions of adolescence as proof of her lack of the famous Thatcher quality of integrity. Her subsequent act of rebellion cements her feelings by deliberately breaking from integrity-and from her family. Robinson reveals her characters through a striking combination of nuance, empathy and wit. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Triple-threat author Robinson-she's written a novel (Summer Light, LJ 6/1/88), a story collection (A Glimpse of Scarlet, LJ 6/1/91), and a biography (Georgia O'Keeffe, LJ 9/15/89)-continues her investigation of the upper crust in a new collection of short fiction.
Mary Ellen Quinn
Robinson charts constantly changing conditions on the home front in these stories set mainly on the East Coast. Domestic interiors are central images, and domestic relations, often complicated by divorce and remarriage, are central themes. Several of the stories show divorced women trying to forge new relationships but being thwarted by children and ex-husbands. Some stories show children growing up and out of the bonds of childhood; others show children discovering for the first time that their parents are different from the people they thought them to be. The complexities of marriage are also examined, and another important subject is a mother's need to keep her child safe. Robinson is a master of the telling detail; such details effectively signal emotional states and subtle shifts in feeling. All her stories are beautifully written and compelling, almost heartbreaking in the way they convey emotions that are very difficult to put into words.
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen stories, mostly wonderful, that once again demonstrate Robinson's (A Glimpse of Scarlet, 1991, etc.) skillful—and fearless—handling of WASP nests.

The well-off characters in these pieces have built safe lives based on certain conventions of manner and conversation. What Robinson makes us see again and again is how fragile that structure really is, how one chance remark or impulsive act can turn everything upside down in a single, terrifying, thrilling moment. This experience holds equally true for adults in stories like "The Favor" and "Slipping Away," and, in "Leaving Home," for children like Alison, who comes face to face with freedom, guilt, and her own desperate adolescent soul simply by climbing into a silver canoe. Divorce, especially the bewildering labyrinth where divorced parents try to find the correct path, plays a part in many of these stories. In fact, certain similarities in "Asking for Love," "The Family Restaurant," and "The Nightmare" make them seem like only slight variations on a single theme—a hazard in a collection where many pieces like these (perhaps even more notably the title story with its heartstopping midair finale) would stand up well separately. In "Mr. Sumarsono" (also in The Best American Short Stories of 1994), a visiting Indonesian diplomat presents an angry ten-year-old girl with a new view of her mother. And it's another foreigner, a French babysitter, who forces a mother (in "The Reign of Arlette") to recognize that her son is growing up. Robinson captures the world of Maine summer houses, Scottish shooting trips, and velvet-collared Chesterfield coats with acuity and marvelously sharp, ironic prose. When she ventures outside this world, as in "White Boys in Their Teens," she is somewhat less surefooted. But, overall, here is a writer who thoroughly knows her bearings.

Large truths served up with small tea sandwiches—delicious stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679439028
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/12/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.87(w) x 8.57(h) x 1.03(d)

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