Friday, January 18, 2013

"I Knew You'd Be Lovely," by Alethea Black

As I mentioned 1/3/13, I recently read and was completely taken by a short story by Alethea Black, and resolved to seek out more of her work; I have now read her short story collection, “I Knew You’d Be Lovely” (Broadway Paperbacks, 2011) and am very impressed by her sure-handed control of the short story genre. She writes about love, loneliness, hope, imagination and more, all in very contemporary contexts. But far from being abstract, the situations she portrays are original, surprising, even startling. I have been thinking lately about how the best short stories seem very real but still manage to startle us, and Black’s stories are perfect examples of this combination. And they are, as my most treasured works always are, about relationships, in this case between parents and children, lovers, family members, an artist and his model, and in one intriguing case, a teacher and his student many years after she was in his class. The author provides readers with an additional gift at the end of the collection: she writes “Author’s Notes” on each story, telling us something about “the backstories to stories and snippets about [her] creative process.”

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