Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead

My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekov to Munro
Weight: 2009
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Decatur Book Lending Box

Let us all take a moment to recognize that this book has a great title. It also has a lot of incredible writers and a variety of great short stories. It was too long. I do not say that because I dislike reading books that are almost 600 pages long. There are plenty books (and anthologies in particular) that are that long or longer that do not seem to draw on like this one. It should have been edited to be about 200 pages shorter.

It is less of a complaint than it is an observation that this book has (I believe) 7 woman authors in a collection of 27 stories. In other male-dominated collections I have read it has been less obvious, but it was a glaring aspect of this book. Probably because in so many of the stories women and mistresses in particular are described in gritty, negative, though very much admired ways. Many of the male authors had their narrators describe their female lovers with disdain, despite their supreme infatuations. It did not feel the same when you read the women's stories. The women had more depth, but the men also seemed to. This is not to say that I did not enjoy some of those despicable women stories. I even loved a few.

I admit that I bought this book because of the title, but I was also hoping it would have dirty, inappropriate love. My kind of love. And it did. I was pleased about that. It did not play a part in my purchase, but it is also nice that the proceeds go to a youth writing program. Oh, and the cover art was kind of nifty too.

I loved Lorrie Moore's “How To be An Other Woman,” which I originally read in college.

“It is like having a book out from the library.
It is like constantly having a book out from the library (253).”

“Your clock-radio reads 1:45.
Wonder if your getting old, desperate. Believe that you have really turned into another woman...(264).”

I picked these quotes randomly and love them, but I know there are even better ones in the story that I am missing. I didn't take notes.

I wrote about Miranda July's “Something That Needs Nothing” as part of my senior thesis. It had just come out in The New Yorker. I still approve.

I highly recommend “We Didn't” by Stuart Dybek. I love reading about the destruction of a relationship. It is, sadly, one of my favorite things.

“Jon” by George Saunders was so different. I cannot wait to read it again.

Anyway, it was long but, all in all, I am so glad I bought it and read it. It makes me want to write a love story.

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