Since I love you, Sweet Readers, I’m telling you to pick up a copy of Robin Black’s If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This. Sure that’s a little on the nose, but I’ve been shorting my sleep all month and I’m exhausted. How about this… if the first three stories – “The Guide,” “If I Loved You,” and “Immortalizing John Parker” – were punches, they’d put you to the canvas with authority.
Remember when I recommended Ben Fountain’s collection last week, I mentioned that you shouldn’t bother looking for a weak link or a throwaway? Well, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This has a weak link; it’s called “Tableau Vivant.” While the other ten stories are superb, “Tableau Vivant” is merely excellent. Since art is so subjective, it’ll probably end up being your favorite one.
Check out this line from “A Country Where You Once Lived,” wherein a man meets his ex-wife at the train station:
As they walk toward a small lot filled with cars, he feels her settle over him like a climate in which he used to live.
How perfect is that? Black writes about long term relationships – good, bad, and average – with the understanding, respect, and insight of someone who has been there.
Though I think he may be right Kevin takes the accusation back. As I knew he would, because he has been my yes-man for years and I, his yes-woman– which for all this time has meant that we aren’t allowed to disagree with each other. Not when it comes to things like why we did what we did, or whether we were right when arguing with someone else. Kevin has long been my best friend, and this unquestioning affirmation of each other has formed the central tenet of our best friendship. We met at work before Joe died, in the glory days of my marriage, when all I wanted from any man other than Joe was friendship, and I wanted from friends was that they agree with me that life was good, that my choices were inspired and my future bright as anything can be. – “Pine”
Celebrate National Short Story Month with this really great collection. But as the end is nigh, maybe we should look to the future.
Robin Black’s first novel, Life Drawing, comes out it July.