In the two sets of connected stories that make up more than half the book, Bloom's play with point of view is like a magic act. I can't think of another writer who does this particular trick so deftly. She floats from one character's head into the next, staying true to each — the wit of their perceptions, and the limitations. These stories are moving in places, but they grow confusing, with undeveloped additional characters and relationships that have little to do with the main plot. And in the "Lionel and Julia" set — the one about the widow and her stepson — the central relationship is more an idea than a dramatized experience.
This is nonetheless an impressive, affecting collection. Bloom's incisive and often wry prose — and above all, that compassion — make it well worth the read.
AMY BLOOM | Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge | January 28 at 7 pm | Free | 617.661.1515 or www.harvard.com
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