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A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You : Stories Paperback – July 31, 2001


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A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You : Stories + Come to Me: Stories + Love Invents Us
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375705570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375705571
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It was Henry James who first claimed the imagination of disaster, but in Amy Bloom's stunning second collection, she appears to have inherited the mantle. Most of the characters in A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You are pursued by at least one of the biological furies: cancer, miscarriage, Parkinson's disease. And even those with their health intact tend to be sick at heart, having run the gantlet of family life and suffered what the military men like to call friendly fire. Yet the effect of these brilliant stories is anything but dreary. Instead they produce an odd sense of elation--Bloom somehow persuades us that her characters will continue under their own steam long after we've closed the book, and she alternates hope and hopelessness in exactly the right, recognizable proportions.

Take the title story, in which a middle-aged mother is determined to see her daughter through the rigors of a sex-change operation. Jane puts up a good front, almost but not quite earning the title of Transsexual Mom of the Year, and supports her "handsome boy-girl" every step of the way. Yet the strain shows. And when she meets a supernaturally nice man, she can't quite credit her good fortune--even his appearance at her door with an armload of flowers touches off a fresh round of ambivalence:

And standing on the little porch of the condo, barely enough room for two medium-size people and forty-eight roses, Jane sees that she has taken her place in the long and honorable line of fools for love: Don Quixote and Hermia and Oscar Wilde and Joe E. Brown, crowing with delight, clutching his straw boater and Jack Lemmon as the speedboat carries them off into a cockeyed and irresistible future.
The inclusion of Some Like It Hot's Joe E. Brown, who's gotten both more and less than he bargained for in his cross-dressing sweetheart, is a typically marvelous touch. And lest we think that Bloom has weighted the scales too heavily in favor of disillusion, Jane's new lover gets in the last word, citing the South Carolina state motto: "Dum spiro, spero.... While I breathe, I hope." Just keep breathing, the reader wants to say.

"Stars at Elbow and Foot" and "Rowing to Eden" are no less effective in their mingling of tragedy and sublime trivia. In two other stories, Bloom revives the Sampson clan, which she first introduced in Come to Me, and beautifully extends her mini-epic of mixed-race life without a grain of namby-pamby PC hesitation. And last but not least, there's "The Story," a tricky number in which Bloom seems to shoot to hell her own reputation for Chekhovian decency. Here we have a narrator who lies and dissembles, destroys her rival, and lives to tell the (metafictional) tale: "Even now I regard her destruction as a very good thing, and that undermines the necessary fictive texture of deep ambiguity, the roiling ambivalence that might give tension to the narrator's affection." In the end, though, Bloom is simply too gifted a writer to banish all seven types of ambiguity from her work. She understands that we are hopelessly divided creatures and cuts us the necessary, unsentimental slack. Or to put it another way, she forgives all--but forgets nothing. --James Marcus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Some of the power of her fiction (Love Invents Us, etc.) comes from Bloom's mastery of the writing craft; more arises from the empathy for human frailty exhibited by this author, who also works as a psychotherapist. Here, eight stories shed insight on the healing properties of love, experienced through unexpected epiphanies, ardent sacrifices and impulsive acts of forgiveness. Two tales concern a black man, Lionel, who one shameful night long ago slept with his white stepmother, Julia. In "Night Visions," Julia attempts to heal Lionel's guilt with kindness: "I love you past speech," she says, as maternal earth-mother rather than temptress. But in "Light into Dark," set six years and Lionel's two divorces later, he still carries "a knot in his heart," so Julia succors Lionel's stepson instead. The narrator in "Stars at Elbow and Foot," the collection's most outstanding story, has lost her baby at birth. Her sardonic voice charts depthless despair, until she opens her heart to a stunted, armless little boy who's even more cynical about life and emotionally guarded about commitment than she is. Another suffering character is the teenaged narrator of "Hold Tight," furious that her smart, talented, beautiful mother is dying of cancer, bitter that her own youth is vanishing at the same time. Here, too, there is a quiet healing, administered by her bereaved father. The protagonist of the title story is a single mother who shepherds her cherished daughter through the teenager's keenly desired sex-change operation, and finds her own heart healing in the process. And even when the will to endure is merely a day-by-day triumph over despair, as in "The Story," Bloom invests her tales with numinous insights. 13-city author tour. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

AMY BLOOM is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, one a nominee for the National Book Award and the other a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her first book of nonfiction, Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, is an exploration of the varieties of gender. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University. Multiple Audie®; Award winner Barbara Rosenblat has been named a "Voice of the Twentieth Century" by AudioFile magazine. The New York Times writes,"Watch Ms. Rosenblat work...and you get the sense that even an Oscar winner might not be able to pull this off." She created the role of "Mrs. Medlock" in the Tony®; Award-winning Broadway musical The Secret Garden.

Customer Reviews

She makes you believe in compassion and ultimate success.
Caroline P. Hampton
This is a beautiful collection of emotionally resonant stories, written with an eye for detail and an ear for dialog.
Pasiphae
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have recommended it to a few of my close friends.
Nadine Thompson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Great books stay with you long after you've finished them.It's been two weeks since I read Amy Bloom's newest book and I simply can't get her stories out of my mind. Driving to vacation on the Cape, I started thinking about her characters Julia and Lionel, a mother and stepson who spent one horribly mistaken, horribly understandable night in bed together and continue to pay the price for years to come. Waiting for my dinner reservation,I looked around at all the romantic couples, and wondered how many were hiding the sort of pain and desperate erotic desire that ripples through Bloom's "The Gates Are Closing," a story about a woman who must confront her lover's gradual deterioration from Parkinson's disease. The truly startling thing about Bloom's stories is not the subject matter (transvestitism, incest, etc.), but the way the characters come so fully alive, you feel as if you've been given full access to their most intimate thoughts and feelings. At a time when more and more Americans are tuning in to "peeping t.v." shows like Survivor and Big Brother, I'd humbly suggest that we'd all fare much better by reading this short story collection because the chracters you'll encounter are far more complex and intriguing than any you'll find on television. Bloom distills the moments in life when we are at a rawest and most vulnerable. She paints our most human dilemmas with empathy and true artistry. Bloom possesses a wise overarching vision that makes the nitty-gritty aspects of life oddly, resonantly beautiful."Survior" is brain candy while this story collection is the meat and potatoes.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nadine Thompson on August 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved Ms. Bloom's previous two books Love Invents Us and Come to Me. I actually read them very slowly, savouring each sentence and allowing her words to take me on my own personal journey. A Blind Man has been another delight. The stories are touching, heartbreaking, scary, human and passionate. The topics were incredibly human and intimate. I felt that I was pulled into Bloom's character's most intimate world, broaching topics that I generally don't allow my mind/thoughts the priviledge of contemplation. While reading A Blind Man... I paused several times to think about my own children and my deep love for them, pausing frequently and eagerly returning to Bloom's words. I felt exhilarated yet vulnerable. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have recommended it to a few of my close friends. Most important in a time when so many books seem unbelievable and lacking in authentic humaness, empathy and vulnerabilty, Bloom's characters felt very real, touching and her powerful words stayed with me for hours and days after reading them, they fueled my conversations with friends and made me think twice about my reationships with my loved ones. What more can one want from a good book. Bravo! Ms.Bloom
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Moon on July 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is Bloom's best yet. Her characters are real, flawed, human, sometimes despicable, and unescapabley pieces of the shadows we love and hate in ourselves. Each story provides a new view into a life sometimes we are too scared to see and always are blessed enough by this talented and insightful writer to be invited into. I feel lucky to have read this book, lucky to know the characters and hear their voices in my head, as Bloom provides consice, believable dialogue as only would suit her masterfully created characters.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Caroline P. Hampton on August 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You" by Amy Bloom is a wonderful collection of short-stories. Her brilliant use of language, texture, and storytelling lead the reader on a course of discovery. Each selection and character is well-rounded and multi dimensional. She doesn't cut corners on any story or persona that is expressed. She can tell a story like no one else. She has such a talent for condensing a very involved story and breaking it down to it's core and making it so powerful that you want to continue with them for years to come. You have a real belief that these characters that Bloom created are so strong, that they will survive even faced with the sad and difficult circumstances they faced. She makes you believe in compassion and ultimate success. A wonderful collection and well worth the money.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on May 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
One critic described A BLIND MAN CAN SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU by Amy Bloom as a non-sentimental look at love. These stories are non-sentimental, but I want to stress the word 'love' because Amy Bloom writes about love.
Once upon a time I taught church school and as part of my teacher training was exposed to the many ways the Greeks defined love. Although we were taught to stress the form of love called 'agape' with our students, I don't recall any discussion of love as unconditional. Agape as I understood it was detached love--the love one tries to have for a neighbor.
Later in life, after a few hard knocks I discovered love was not about keeping people at arm's length. My son-in-law died of a heroin overdose. I was upset about the manner of his death and the affect of his living and dying on the lives of my daughter and grandchildren. In spite of all the "bad" things he had done, however, I discovered that I still loved him. One does not love another because of what they do or don't do, one just loves--unconditionally.
Amy Bloom writes about unconditional love, which is the only kind of love there really is. Everything else is an illusion. She writes of the love of a stepmother for her stepson and his stepson; the love a lesbian for her married friend dying of cancer--and her love for her friend's husband. She writes of a mother's love for a dead baby and a boy nobody wants. She writes of love involving a physical connection that allows a mistress to help her dying lover. Love is tough and unconditional and it is possible to love more than one person.
Bloom's prose is exquisite. He plots are tight and her characters well developed.
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