Graceful, accomplished prose.
New York Times Book Review
The Edge of Marriage introduces a remarkable new writer.
Like the tightly crafted stories of Raymond Carver and pre-postmodern Flannery O’Connor . . . Kaplan’s disquieting stories are a confluence of emotive narration, precisely placed dialogue, and shadowed imagery.
“Reading these stories is like watching a window shatter in silence—we become mesmerized by the stark beauty of disintegration.”— New Yorker
“Graceful, accomplished prose.”—
New York Times Book Review
The Edge of Marriage introduces a remarkable new writer.”—Annie Dillard
“Tough-minded reports from the marital frontlines . . . A precisely observant collection, unsparing, original, and resonant.”—
“Like the tightly crafted stories of Raymond Carver and pre-postmodern Flannery O’Connor . . . Kaplan’s disquieting stories are a confluence of emotive narration, precisely placed dialogue, and shadowed imagery.”—Austin Chronicle
Kaplan, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction, presents nine intense stories that share somber themes and explore desperate characters. In the title story, Jack watches his grief-stricken wife, Eleanor, fall apart when her best friend dies, and wonders if their marriage can withstand her breakdown.
Would You Know It Wasn't Love? tells the affecting story of Walt, who acknowledges his resentment toward his grown-up daughter Rosie after she returns to his Cambridge home to recover from a crumbling marriage. In Live Life King-Sized, perhaps the best story in this superb collection, Henry Blaze, a man dying of AIDS, retreats to an island hotel with his wife. Angered by the sick man's presence, hotel owner Mr. Thierry brings Blaze meals in his room to keep him away from other guests, and Blaze tells him of his plan to die while on vacation. Tensions escalate when Blaze's male lover arrives on the island. In all of these stories, Kaplan focuses on the darker side of life, but she guides us through the intimate worlds of these characters in spare, illuminating prose.
Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, this debut collection of nine stories focuses on the turning points and crises of family life, when the very foundations of primary relationships are tested. In "Would You Know It Wasn't Love?" and "From Where We've Fallen," two sets of older married couples feel their stability and careful equilibrium threatened when a troubled grown child moves back home. "The Edge of Marriage" concerns a couple barely able to withstand the death of the wife's close female friend of 30 years; the husband, who narrates, must cope with his wife's depression and her suffocating dependence on him as her only remaining friend. Illness and age shade relationships in many of the tales. The wife of "Dysaesthesia" stays with her philandering spouse, who has just lost his hand in a car accident, not because she feels pity for him, but because she is unwilling to disrupt her beloved young daughter's life. Interesting variations on traditional family situations are probed as well. In "Claude Comes and Goes," a promiscuous theater critic suddenly re-enters the life of his former college sweetheart and her husband, seeking a family to care for him in the last stages of terminal cancer. The man who runs a resort in "Live Life King-Sized" finds his business threatened by the presence of an elderly AIDS-stricken guest who wishes to die at the resort. For Kaplan's characters, the depth and complexity of shared experience compensates for the anguish of pain, and the stories, full of sensory detail and blunt physical description, are spiked with revelations, small and large. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"He's a man with a disease, out of control sometimes, sometimes hateful, he knows, but forgiven." Such is the tenor of these stories by Kaplan, whose Flannery O'Connor Award-winning collection is suffused with illness and resentment yet tempered with hope. Mostly told in the first person, these stories have an almost uncomfortably intimate quality. In one, a man who has lost a hand in a car accident fears that he will loose the other. A woman sorts through her dead mother's clothes, reflecting on how little she really knew her. And in the title story, a husband watches with anguish as his wife suffers a breakdown after the death of her friend. Though the stories are full of betrayal and defeat, they are elegantly written. Taut yet smooth, they are a glass surface reflecting emotional tension, complex relationships, and somber reality. A worthy addition to all public libraries.--Yvette Weller Olson, City Univ. Lib., Renton, WA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Tough-minded reports from the marital frontlines, by a writer with the keen eye of a reporter for the telling detail and apt metaphor.