Here are characters confronted with tragedy, perplexed by emotions, and challenged to endure whatever modern life may have in store. A loving mother accompanies her daughter in her journey to become a man, and discovers a new, hopeful love. A stepmother and stepson meet again after fifteen years and a devastating mistake, and rediscover their familial affection for each other. And in "The Story," a widow bent on seducing another woman's husband constructs and deconstructs her story until she has "made the best and happiest ending" possible "in this world."
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A BLIND MAN CAN SEE How MUCH I LOVE YOU
Jane Spencer collects pictures of slim young men. In the bottom drawer of her desk, between swatches of silk and old business cards for Spencer Interiors, she has two photos of James Dean, one of a deeply wistful Jeremy Irons in Brideshead, arm in arm with the boy holding the teddy bear, a sepia print of Rudolph Valentino in 1923, without burnoose or eyeliner, B. D. Wong's glossies as Song Liling and as his own lithe, androgynous self, and Robert Mapplethorpe slipping sweetly out of his jeans in 1972. She has a pictorial history of Kevin Bacon, master of the transition from elfin boy to good-looking man without adding bulk or facial hair.
The summer Jessie Spencer turned five, she played Capture the Flag every day with the big boys, the almost-six-year-olds who'd gone to kindergarten a year late. Jane never worried, even in passing, about Jesse's IQ or her eye-hand coordination or her social skills. Jesse and Jane were a mutual admiration society of two smart, strong, blue-eyed women, one five and one thirty-five, both good skaters and good singers and good storytellers. Jane didn't mention all this to the other mothers at play group, who would have said it was the same between them and their daughters when Jane could see it was not, and she didn't mention it to her own sweet, anxious mother, who would have taken it, understandably, as a reproach. Jane didn't even mention this closeness to the pediatrician, keeper of every mother's secret fears and wishes, but it sang her to sleep at night. Jane's reputation as the play group's good listener was undeserved; the mothers talked about their knock-kneed girls and backward boysand Jane smiled and her eyes followed Jesse. She watched her and thought, That smile! Those lashes! How brave! How determined!
Jane sometimes worried that Jessie was too much of a tomboy, like Sarah and Mellie, even faster runners and more brutal partisans; it was nothing to them to make a smaller boy cry by yanking up his underpants, or to grind sand into the scalp of the girl who hogged the tire swing. These two didn't cry, not even when Mellie cut her lip on the edge of the teeter-totter, not even when Sarah got a splinter the size of a matchstick. But Sarah and Mellie, in their overalls and dirty baseball jerseys, never had the boys' heartless prankishness, the little devils dancing in the blacks of their eyes. Jessie had exactly that, and the other kids knew she wasn't a tomboy, never strained to be one of the boys. There was no teasing, no bullying line drawn in the sand. Jane knew that one day soon, in the cove behind John Lyman School, the boys would pull out their penises and demonstrate to Jessie that she could not pee standing up, and it would be terrible for Jessie. Jane was wrong. Jessie watched the boys and practiced at home, making a funnel with both hands and a baggie. When Andrew and Franklin went to pee on the far side of the rhododendron, Jessie came too, unzipping and pushing her hips forward until there was, if not a fine spray, a decent dribble. The boys thought nothing of it until first grade, and when they did and the teacher pushed Jessie firmly into the girls' bathroom, she walked home at recess, horrified by the life ahead, and Jane could not coax her back for a week.
It was worse when Jane took her to get a simple navy blue jumper for a friend's wedding. Jane held it out, pleased that she'd found something in Jessie's favorite color without a ruffle or a speck of lace, and Jessie stared at it as if her mother had gone mad, wailing in rage and embarrassment until Jane drove her to Macy's for a boy's navy blazer with gray pants and dared the salesperson to comment. They compromised on patent leather loafers and a white turtleneck. People at the wedding thought only that Jane was her fashionable self and Jessie adorable. Very Kristy McNichol, the bride's mother said. Driving home, Jane knew that she had managed not to see it, as you manage not to see that your neighbor's new baby has your husband's eyes and nose, until one day you run into them at the supermarket and you cannot help but see. Jessie slept the whole way home, smears of buttercream on the white turtleneck, rose petals falling from her blazer pocket, and Jane cried from Storrs to Durham. She had appreciated and pitied her mother and adored her father, a short, dapper man who cartwheeled through the living room at her request and told his own Brooklyn version of Grimm's Fairy Tales at bedtime. She had liked Jessie's handsome father enough to think of marrying him until he was revealed to have a wife in Eau Claire and bad debts in five states. It did not seem possible that the great joke God would play on her was to take the love of her life, a wonderfully improved piece of Jane, and say, Oops. Looks like a girl but it's a boy! Sorry Adjust accordingly. It took Jane all of Jessie's childhood to figure out what the adjustment might be and to save fifty thousand dollars to pay for it.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
|A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You||3|
|Rowing to Eden||29|
|Lionel and Julia|
|Light into Dark||75|
|Stars at Elbow and Foot||103|
|The Gates Are Closing||125|
What People are Saying About This
The highest compliment i can pay a writer is to say that her work is Chekhovian - which is to say that its fine, fierce intelligence is matched by its compassion.
I feel as though before discovering Amy Bloom, I was lost, and now I'm found.
Amy Bloom writes about love in prose as pure and polished as river-washed stone. And such is her wisdom that, in reading about a woman who has done nothing I ever did, I felt I was reading about myself.
Amy Bloom writes about love and desire with more visceral power than anyone i know.
Amy Bloom's masterful stories take place at the point where love and desire collide with convention. At once achingly funny and heartbreaking, these stories live on long past the print and the page.
Amy Bloom is possessed of great subtlety and rock-solid integrity. Her stories crackle with subvert revelation. She is compassionate writer who, more important, loves the world too much to sentamentalize it.
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You is another collection of not-to-be-missed stories by one of America's most talented writers.
Amy Bloom's work takes ordinary lives under examination and discovers the strange elements that render no life ordinary. Her characters and situations give the sense of things happening for the first time to inimitable individuals.
I had a wonderful time reading Amy Bloom's stories. They're as fresh as paint, and full of surprises, skill and wit.
Reading Group Guide
About the Book:This discussion guide will assist readers in exploring A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You. Hopefully, it will help create a bond not only between the book and the reader, but also between the members of the reading group. In your support of this book, please feel free to copy and distribute this guide to best facilitate your reading program. Thank you.Discussion Questions:Reading Group Guide for A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom
Question: In A BLIND MAN CAN SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, there are many different portraits of family. How do think Amy Bloom would define a family? How do her characters act like traditional families, and how do they differ? How do you define a family, and do you think Bloom's families would fall under your definition? Why or why not? In "Hold Tight", how is a new family made?
Question: Bloom's work has been praised for the way in which it portrays ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Do you think this is correct, or should it be the other way around, extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances? Do these characters seem to be the people you come across in your life on a day to day basis? Why do you think Bloom would choose to make these people seem so everyday, so ordinary?
Question: Many of the characters in these stories are at critical moments in their lives where their impending actions will have a profound effect on the way in which the world perceives them, how they perceive themselves, and how other characters in the novel will choose to see them. What are some of these moments? What actions in life change our being? What internal moments change us? Which have a more profound effect in Bloom's novel in constructing identity? Which do you think should in life?
Question: How does Bloom define love in her stories? How does she portray the love between a parent and a child, between friends, between lovers, between spouses? How do these types of love differ, and what do they have in common? Is love always forever? If not, why and when does it end?
Question: In A BLIND MAN CAN SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, who seems to change more, Jane or Jessie? What types of changes occur in the story, both externally and internally. Which sorts of changes have an effect on the identity of the individual? How do you think their relationship will change as Jess begins to lead life as a man? To what extent does sexuality define a person? To what extent do external features make up ones identity, like a name, what one wears? Is identity an external or internal quality, or is it both? What do you think the significance the title A BLIND MAN CAN SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU is?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love the title story. The others are just so-so.
Meh. I couldn't get into it. Maybe it was the frequent referrals to nurses as bitches. This is just not the type of writing that appeals to me.
Not her best, but still a fine book.
This is perhaps one of my most beloved collections of short stories. Amy Bloom's prose is astonishingly deft and precise--never a wasted word. She excels in the short story genre.
All the stories were neither interesting nor thought provoking. I finished the book without gaining any kind of joy or entertainment. I didn't even finish the book...felt my time would be better spent on more decent literature.
I loved the cover and it had been recommended to me but I didn't like it, a lot of stories leave you totally hanging with no real ending (but I'm fairly sure they're suppose to be like that - but it still bugged me a little) and the last ten pages were nearly torture to try and make it through. Oy.