Robin Black's short story collection If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This is scrumptious. Depth in story, depth in character, interesting way of getting us from point A to B every time. I've not read stories like this in a long time and I'm wondering why people aren't jumping up and down about this collection. Black has a rare ability to capture those moments in our lives that we can't quite admit to ourselves, an ability to see clearly that which often goes unsaid but is deeply felt. I read many books each month and often admire the writing or the story but don't feel connected to the work on a personal level. Not so with this collection, not so.
A few passages that resonated with me in particular and that showcase Black's ability to beautifully capture nuance and unspoken emotions:
"If only, Shiroyama dreams, human beings were not masks behind masks behind masks. If only this world was a clean board of lines and intersections. If only time was a sequence of considered moves and not a chaos of slippages and blunders."
"Family life. Looking back, it seems like a dance, a four-person minuet comprised of steps toward and steps away, approaches and retreats, ending, finally, with each of them standing entirely alone."
"She always loved this time of day. George also loved this time of day. Some of their best hours together had been passed sitting in this room, her living room, both of them reading, waiting for the sun to drop from view, the daylight to fade, staying there, in that early darkness together, not switching on a lamp, not yet. Tacitly agreeing to fight the evening off. Fight every ending off. Live within all the transitions for every possible second."
from Robin Black's If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
Gorgeous, no? Get thee to a bookstore.
Update: Yikes! Gracious readers have pointed out that the first passage above is, in fact, NOT from Robin Black's short story collection. What is it from? David Mitchell's A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. How do I know this? Because I screwed up the order of my Kindle "Clippings"...something I have trouble with often. I never know if the quote I want is before or after the book information. Much as I'd like to blame Kindle's UI (seriously, you should look into that Amazon), I have to hang my head rather shamefully and take the blow full-on. Wow. So - yeah. Although the "Shiroyama" character should have been a tip-off...I mistakenly quoted David Mitchell and called it Robin Black's work. So. Embarrassed. You. Don't. Even. Know. But if I had to accidentally mistake your work for another's...um...not bad, eh? :)