"A master of [the] form... Levy is skilled at bringing [her] characters to life, each story searingly made real through [her] subtlety and fastidious attention to detail." (Publishers Weekly)
"...a readable, addictive collection of stories about love, lust, loss, and loneliness." (The Picky Girl.com)
"A brilliant debut . . . Sad, funny, and always wise, Levy’s stories reveal truths about how we love and lose, trust and betray, with an intelligence that takes my breath away. I’ll be returning to these wonderful stories again and again." (Cheryl Strayed)
"E.J. Levy’s stories brilliantly and winningly reveal the human heart as it strives to measure its own beating through love. Love, in Theory is a collection richly worthy of Flannery O’Connor’s name." (Robert Olen Butler)
"This debut collection . . . is wholly beguiling and authoritative, an instruction from first page to last." (Nicholas Delbanco)
"Selfishness has never been sent up as mordantly as it is in E. J. Levy’s debut collection of stories."(Andrew Holleran)
"This is a smart, smart book."(Roxane Gay)
"Levy keeps her focus on failed romance...[going] deeper than the outlines, down into the details...[of] the girl-talk repertoire." (New York Times)
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Top Customer Reviews
On Friday I blogged about how I was kind of on the fence about this book because there's adultery and a lesbian who falls for a married man, and I definitely had my eyeballs rolling as I opened the first page. Ooops.
I loved this collection. (Not in theory, either, but for real.)
Every story was like, I don't know, something delectable and redolent. Be it a piece of chocolate or a slice of cake or a gorgeous aria -- Levy's writing sucked me in from the first line and I wanted to savor her stories, linger with them.
The characters felt real, immediately, their emotional state familiar and resonant, and their challenges and conflicts achingly, uncomfortably articulated. In the much feared 'Theory of Dramatic Action', with the lesbian and married man, I found a character I could relate to and understand, and a poignant situation that made me tear up a little. The volume's opening story, 'The Best Way Not to Freeze', about a woman's first real love, was so good I read it twice, then read it to my wife, then to a friend. After that, when I started reading 'The Three Christs of Moose Lake, Minnesota' to my wife, she just took the volume from my hands to inhale on her own. (I raced through this book in one night, then reread almost all the stories over the following two days.)
I have to stop saying I dislike short fiction because clearly, I do like it.Read more ›
This collection of short stories is unlike anything I have ever read. These stories are so smart, so deep, so powerful. Not all literature needs to be highly intellectual in order to be good, but it just so happens that this particular collection is so intellectual, so philosophical, I had to consume these stories on a one by one basis, reflecting on each one before moving on to the next.
The characters on these stories are raw and real. I see so much of myself, and the people I know, in the variety of characters and situations in these stories. I really appreciate the fact that a wide variety of love and romantic situations are explored, heterosexual, homosexual, fidelity and infidelity, the complexity of love intersecting with religious faith. We see several themes reoccurring across different stories, but playing out differently depending on the story.
I find Levy to be an incredibly gifted writer. I was amazed with each story in this collection. If you are someone who typically does not like short stories, I encourage you to still give this book a chance, as it is far from typical. I found more depth and meaning in just one of these stories than I have found in some full length novels. I really think this book will appeal to many readers.
I received a review copy of this book courtesy of TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review
Many of the stories begin with the recent loss of a lover; a few others end with one. There are often flings with other people along the way, briefly welcome or immediately regretted, but they are never the focus. The prevailing tone is elegiac: an almost pastoral lament for a lost idyll; it is a literary mode that has always attracted me. Most of the characters are around what I presume to be the author's age and situation: well-educated thirty-somethings working as adjunct instructors at a university, or something very similar. But the exceptions (most of which come towards the end of the book) are striking. The protagonist of "The Three Christs of Moss Lake, Minnesota," for example, is an orderly in a mental hospital.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Writing is superb, characterization is strong. Definitely not your every collection of stories. Author weaves social commentary into the events in a very sophisticated and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Fierce Red Pen
EJ Levy is a great writer. Her fiction is both touching and wry and yet the style is distinct from the writing in her wonderful memoir Amazons. The versatility is impressive. Read morePublished 24 months ago by pjm
I do not generally seek out collections of short stories; however, Love, in Theory was a delightful exception. Read morePublished on December 28, 2013 by classiccool
We should consider E.J. Levy’s debut collection, Love, In Theory, (winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction) as a lesser-known corollary of The Notorious B.I.G. Read morePublished on December 3, 2013 by scoundrel
A beautiful, funny, oddly tender book that doesn't pull its punches. E.J. Levy manages to simultaneously inhabit, illuminate, evaluate, and forgive her characters as they stumble... Read morePublished on June 13, 2013 by Lisa Schamess
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which explores love in its many manifestations. It is well written and gets inside of the characters' heads so that I really felt I knew them. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Steffi
I am always on the hunt for a good collection of short stories and this book fit the bill. The stories were interesting and the characters so real. Read morePublished on February 5, 2013 by BarbieG