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Book Review

‘The News From Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story’

12/5/2012

Review by Fay Jones

Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Knopf

October 2012 

$ 24.95 

HIV

208 pp. 

In her recent work of fiction, Joan Wickersham presents seven brilliant short stories. Each gorgeously-written piece concerns a cast of original characters, yet the collection is united by a common theme: love. The stories have the identical title, “The News from Spain,” and that same phrase appears within each story as well, holding a different meaning depending upon what situation the characters find themselves in.                 

The stories occur in different periods of time and in different parts of the world, the characters immersed in their own unique situations yet sharing realistic encounters with the power of both love and longing. Wickersham beautifully portrays a variety of kinds of love — romantic and otherwise — and the complexities that accompany the relationships.                 

In the opening story, friends reunite at a wedding, one dealing with her husband’s infidelity, the other unsure of the marriage he’s about to enter into. In another, Rebecca marvels at her intensifying relationship with her dying mother while at the same time grappling with her 10-year relationship with Peter: “They are so far in, and yet not far in at all.” An elegant, moving tale — one of the strongest — features an aging, paralyzed dancer and her gay caretaker. She is married to the director of the dance company, who is openly involved with the newest young talent. Her caretaker is sorting through his own relationship with a member of the troupe, and the intimacy their situation provokes is beautifully rendered by Wickersham.

The stories are moving, their emotion heightened by her careful style, and her insightfulness into human behavior is startling. This is an imaginative, tender collection that will resonate long after the last page is turned. CV

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