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Sea Lovers: Selected Stories by Valerie…
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Sea Lovers: Selected Stories

by Valerie Martin

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I've enjoyed Valerie Martin's novels; this collection of previously published short stories, not so much. The writing is fine enough, and she has come up with some interesting characters, so for someone else, this may have been a good read. But overall, I found the people and stories mean, selfish, and depressing, and those aren't the types of people that I want to spend my time with these days. The twelve stories are sorted into three sections. Those in "The Animals" all involve killing an animal. A woman euthanizes a young, healthy dog to get back at the husband who left her but still cares about the dog; a father chops a rat in half with an ax, and his daughter becomes fixated on the gory remains; a man closes a cat in an attic where it starves to death; a woman finds a dead cat in her yard, a can stuck on its face. Lovely topics for fiction for any animal lover. The four stories in "The Artists" all focus on egotistical and nasty painters/writers who treat the women in their lives horribly. They are verbally and emotionally abusive, they lie, they steal, they push people down stairs, they're simultaneously lazy and ambitious. Again, do I want to read about people like that? NO! "The Lovers"--well, let's just say that in their cases, love should mean having to say you're sorry, whether it's the nasty menopausal woman who rejects her husband or the mermaid who literally rips her men apart, balls first, or any of the other extremely unpleasant so-called "lovers." I'm not someone who reads Pollyanna stories, Christian romances, etc.--but I like to take something with me from a good book, and there was nothing here that I care to think further about. Forcing myself to finish it (why, oh why, did I do this?) was near-torture. If I wasn't repulsed, I was bored.

I'm giving this book 1.5 stars based solely on the quality of the writing. ( )
3 vote Cariola | Jan 31, 2016 |
Valerie Martin is a remarkable and respected novelist (Property and The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, to name just two fantastic books), and she’s not nearly as well known for short stories as she ought to be. Perhaps Sea Lovers: Selected Stories will remedy that situation with twelve polished and impeccably controlled stories that run the gamut from domestic drama (“The Change,” in which a menopausal artists reaches new levels of power while simultaneously trashing her marriage, and “Spats,” in which a wronged woman seriously contemplates wreaking vengeance on the dogs her husband deeply loves) to the mythological (a mermaid in “Sea Lovers” and a centaur in “Et In Arcadiana Ego”).

What they have in common is a deep curiosity about the nature of humanity: Just how different are we from the rest of the animal kingdom? It’s a question worth contemplating with a writer as accomplished as Martin.

(Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com) ( )
  KelMunger | Oct 20, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385533527, Hardcover)

From the bestselling author of Mary Reilly and the internationally acclaimed Property, a brilliant collection featuring Valerie Martin's finest short stories to date.

     For four decades Valerie Martin has been publishing novels and stories that demonstrate her incredible range as a writer, moving between realism and fantasy while employing a voice that is at once whimsical and tragic. The twelve stories in this collection showcase Martin's enviable control, precision, and grace and are organized around her three fictional obsessions—the natural world, the artistic sphere, and stunning transformations. In "The Change," a journalist watches his menopausal wife, an engraver, create some of her eeriest and most affecting works even as she seems to be willfully destroying their marriage. In "The Open Door," an American poet in Rome finds herself forced to choose between her lover and a world so alien it takes her voice away. "Sea Lovers" conjures up a hideous mermaid whose fatal seduction of a fisherman provides better reason than Jaws for staying out of the water. In "The Incident at Villedeau" a respected gentleman confesses to killing his wife's former lover, an event that could be construed as an accident, an impulsive act, or a premeditated crime. Exploring themes of obsession, justice, passion, and duplicity, these drolly macabre stories buzz with tension.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 17 Jul 2015 18:39:11 -0400)

Presents an anthology of twelve stories inspired by the author's fictional explorations of the natural world, the artistic sphere, and the potential of transformations.

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