Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: "If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This" by Robin Black

What a beautifully moving book this was. Robin Black's short story collection examined the tenuous connections of relationships—between parent and child, lovers, friends, siblings, even strangers. Some of the stories (one in particular) made me laugh out loud, some made me cry, but all made me think and have definitely touched my heart. Some of the most memorable stories included the opening story, "The Guide," which followed a father reluctantly watching his blind daughter get ready to head off to college; "Immortalizing John Parker," a story about an artist struggling to paint a portrait of a dying man while dealing with the end of her own relationship; "Some Women Eat Tar," a humorous look at how a woman's pregnancy affects her relationship with the baby's father; and the closing story, "The History of the World," which looked at the difficult yet cherished relationship of aging siblings on a trip to Italy. And that just scratched the surface of the collection.

I never used to read short stories because I didn't like getting attached to characters and getting immersed in the plot, only to have the story end fairly quickly. But the opportunity to experience the range of characters, plots and emotions that Robin Black has created in this collection is amazing. Any one of these stories could stand on its own and be developed into a novel, and I'd love that, because in just a few pages, I felt completely hooked by these characters. This book is fantastic, and given that it is Black's fiction debut, I can't wait to see what comes next in her career.

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