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Come to Me: Stories (1993)

by Amy Bloom

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6111127,456 (3.95)31
This is a collection of 12 short stories by apracticing psychotherapist. It deals with deviant behavior,such as incest between a mother and her stepson, a wife'sdistracted thoughts during sex and a family coping withtheir schizophrenic daughter.

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» See also 31 mentions

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This is a lovely book of twelve stories featuring love, relationships and the moments of heartbreak that threaten to pull us under. Bloom’s writing is easy going even when you hit upon the grittier more disturbing components of a few of the stories.

I’m impressed with how well she developes the characters and makes us feel for them and it is done in such a way that I don’t feel inundated with detail, just gently brought along for the ride.

The occasional startling revelation never seems out of place or out of character. I though a few time “That’s just what they’d do.” Especially in the three related stories, the first “Hyacinth”, a man’s story, then his wife's “The Sight of You”, then their daughter narrates “Silver Water”. The three tales offer and interesting way to bring more dimension to characters by seeing them through the eyes of other people in their lives. We get to know the man as he aged from six in the first story to late-middle aged in the last.

In “Hyacinth” he recalls the tragic incident for which he was blamed and how this changed his life for the better. “The Sight of You” it his wife relating a story and we discover how close he’s come to losing his family. “Silver Water” told by the younger daughter is about her sister’s battle with mental illness. The father is a psychiatrist and you can imagine him wrestling with the helplessness he must feel.

There is another grouping of two stories that surprised me. The first about a husband and his sexual attraction to another women, and the second about his wife and her developing relationship with her hairdresser. It’s the wife story that surprised me. It's complicated but is develops in such a way that you believe the story plays out as it should.

Bloom’s style is warm and inviting, bringing you into the stories, making you feel like the characters are friends of yours. You know these people and maybe have struggled with the passionate, desperate emotions conveyed yourself. There’s a lot of dialogue that sounds absolutely authentic. Stories that are plausible even when the twists and turns make you wince,for you know they happen in real life and that’s the most disturbing part, the truth of them. ( )
  LynneMF | Aug 20, 2017 |
Starting my Amy Bloom cram with these early stories which I gobbled up in an afternoon. Really liked them, especially the interlocking ones and Love is not a Pie. Just as complex as life. Very satisifying. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Although I have come to be an Amy Bloom fan, I had inexplicably never read her first collection of stories despite the fact that I've owned it since 1994. In it, she once again (I guess for the first time) illustrates her psychological perceptiveness (she is, or was, a psychotherapist too), her excellent characterization, her humanity, and her ability to say a lot in a few words.

I especially enjoyed the linked stories which deal first with the horrifying childhood of a boy, looked back on when he is married and has two daughters; then with his wife when she is having an affair and contemplating leaving him; and then with one of the daughters looking at her sister who had a psychotic break as a teenager. Then there are two stories about the man the wife was having the affair with and his wife.

Some of the stories deal with love, and some with love and loss. There are several in which a woman's husband dies, and some in which the tale of love is unconventional. A quote:

I should have invited them. (Her parents, to her wedding.) I am almost thirty now, and I am coming to think that one should, when in doubt, invite them, whoever they are. The distant relatives, the cocktail party stalwarts, the friends who failed to send Christmas cards two years in a row. Invite them while you can.

This is Bloom's earliest work, and occasionally the psychotherapist shines brighter than the writer, but all in all I was glad I took it off the shelf and read it because I was mesmerized by most of the stories
3 vote rebeccanyc | Mar 27, 2016 |
You would think that I would have gotten my hands on an Amy Bloom book by now. I mean, when I think of "great modern-day short story writers," her name is one of the first that comes to mind.

I've read a handful of Amy Bloom's stories before - in the various Best Of and O.Henry collections, one or two in A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (one of the best book titles ever), as well as her work in O Magazine (I think it was O) - but never sat down with one of her books in its entirety.

So I thought I would start at the beginning, with Come to Me. Truth be told, this has been on my "want to read" list for quite some time.

Twelve stories comprise this collection, and several of them are connected to each other. It's a brilliant way of showing the perspective of several characters within the same incident as well as at different times of their lives. It's similar to the effect of Olive Kitteridge, only on a more abbreviated scale. Still, I think that these stories - particularly the related ones - would satisfy those who resist short stories because of not getting to know the characters well enough.

As good as these stories are, I really can't say too much about them ("Hyacinths," "The Sight of You," and "Silver Water" and then "Faultlines" and "Only You") for fear of giving too much away, but suffice it to say that they center on two families and are about how our earliest experiences shape us, as well as about what we don't know or don't want to see.

Relationships in all their complexity are at the heart of these stories. There's a daughter reflecting on her parents' unconventional marriage during her mother's funeral ("Love Is Not a Pie") and a husband and wife grieving the earlier than expected end of their May-December marriage ("Semper Fidelis"). There's misplaced affections for obstetricians ("Song of Solomon") and stepchildren ("Sleepwalking"), and inappropriateness under the guise of neighborliness ("Light Breaks Where No Light Shines"). There are families dealing with mental illness in their children and the knowledge that their spouses are in love with others. And of course, there is Amy Bloom's wonderful writing that keeps her readers wanting more.

The author's blurb on the back cover of Come to Me mentions that Amy Bloom divides her time between her psychotherapy practice and writing. Since this collection was published in 1994, I'm not sure if that is still the case.

As much as I'm not sure if I'd want to have Amy Bloom as my therapist (my life is fodder for more than a few novels), I'll say this: after reading Come to Me, I can't wait until my next session of reading one of her books. Originally posted on The Betty and Boo Chronicles http://bettyboochronicles.blogspot.com

( )
  bettyandboo | Apr 2, 2013 |
If it is true that a writer writes about what they know and that their first work is often semi-biographical, then Amy Bloom's life is a soap opera. He's sleeping with her who is sleeping with him, but he doesn't know that she is also sleeping with her who is sleeping with him, her, and her...

Despite the constant theme of "Relationships Gone Wild", Bloom's stories are lyrical and engaging. I breezed through this collection in a couple of days. Several of the stories are interconnected, with different viewpoints, and I enjoyed these most. Come to Me is a very worthy debut. ( )
  chrisblocker | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Syrier, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Donald, most, best, and always.
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In the middle of the eulogy at my mother's boring and heart-breaking funeral, I began to think about calling off the wedding.
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This is a collection of 12 short stories by apracticing psychotherapist. It deals with deviant behavior,such as incest between a mother and her stepson, a wife'sdistracted thoughts during sex and a family coping withtheir schizophrenic daughter.

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