*This book was sent to me by the publisher The University of Georgia Press in exchange for an honest review.
Love, In Theory has the perfect cover, a flow chart of sorts, and I want to illustrate the paths. It says:
…of love and passion in theory, in fact, in fiction, in love.
…of love and passion and heartbreak in fact, in fiction, in love.
…of love and betrayal and heartbreak in fact, in fiction, in love.
…of love and betrayal between women and women in fiction in love.
…of love and betrayal between women and men and men in love.
But Love, In Theory isn’t romance. It’s love, as it says, in theory. Why in theory? Many of the characters in these stories don’t seem quite sure what love is, or at least they have clicked to the fact that love is not, in fact, birds chirping sweetly and fish swimming around lovers in rowboats.
I have to confess that I haven’t finished this book, but only because I’ve been so incredibly busy. I will say, though, that in the hospital and in hospice, I kept coming back to it. I couldn’t sustain a novel, and it was so nice to pick up a story, read it, and put it down again. As Audra mentioned in her review, the first story “The Best Way Not to Freeze” was so affecting, I had to read it twice.
Then there were moments where the emotion and writing just seemed so perfect:
Panic, she recalls, was named for the god of wilderness. She heads for home.
She takes the parkway fast, rounds a lake and then another and then she is in the woods. Passing Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, it occurs to Lisa to stop, but she has spent too much time already in this dark wood; she is ready to be done with it. She’ll find no Virgil there to guide her; she’s going to have to make her way alone for now and maybe for years to come, alone, and the thought of this – of herself alone, without Richard, in the vast stretch of time that is her future – makes her, finally, cry.
Cab rides in New York are like a love affair: one surrenders oneself to the care of strangers, trusting that they will take you to the right place. To the place you cannot get to on your own.
Full of love at its best and worst, Love, In Theory by E.J. Levy is a readable, addictive collection of stories about love, lust, loss, and loneliness.