"Levy’s award-winning short story collection masterfully explores the vagaries of romantic love…[in] 10 lyrical gems…. A smart, insightful collection of stories about life and love." (Kirkus, starred review)
"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)
"Levy's artful debut story collection finds varied characters—young and old, male and female—confronting the ornery manifestations and delusions of modern love. . . . Levy's 10 engaging stories speak to the sorcery of the heart." (Booklist)
"[I]ndulge with this clever recipe of intelligent romance." (Sarah Barr, VOX magazine)
"I would compare Ms. Levy's style in these stories to Lorrie Moore - who is also among my favorite writers...these were really, really good….I hope we see much more of E.J. Levy's writing. She is a talent to watch." (The Betty & Boo Chronicles)
"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)
About the Author
E. J. Levy’s fiction and essays have appeared in the Paris Review, the Missouri Review, Gettysburg Review, the New York Times, and Best American Essays and have received a Pushcart Prize and Nelson Algren Award, among other honors. She is the editor of Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers, which won the Lambda Literary Award. This is her first book of fiction.
E. J. Levy's fiction and essays have appeared in the Paris Review, Best American Essays, and The New York Times, among other places, and have won a Pushcart Prize, a Nelson Algren Award, a scholarship to Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and twice been named among the year's 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories, among other honors. She edited Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers, which won the Lambda Literary Award. Her story collection, Love, In Theory, won the 2011 Flannery O'Connor Award and has been called "a brilliant debut" by Cheryl Strayed (author of WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail); it was released in September 2012. To learn more, visit www.ejlevy.com
You know how when you meet someone, and you immediately decide they're a total snob and you hate their guts, and then you spend more time with them and you realize you were totally wrong and this person is actually wildly cool, and now you've got to backpedal to all your friends about how that person is actually not as awful as you originally said...? Well, that's exactly my experience with this book.
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 ›
Love is never simple. Sometimes love means sacrifice. Sometimes love means forgiveness. Sometimes love can not be conform to social constraints. Sometimes love is temporary. In this collection of short stories, we are are able to view love in many forms, new love, lost love, destroyed love, and theoretical love.
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
In the past, I have always avoided short fiction, with the grudging exception of some anthologies with really appealing themes (ex. Zombies vs. Unicorns). Generally, short stories haven't made a whole lot of sense to me, since they tend either to be scrapped ideas that weren't good enough to make into a novel or too short to do a fabulous idea justice. Either I don't want the story at all or I want it to be much longer, a proper novel. Well, I happily report that E. J. Levy's short story collection Love, in Theory is precisely what I want short fiction to be.
These ten stories dovetail together nicely, covering a lot of the same ground with slight variations. I love Levy's writing, even in the stories I didn't care for as much. She also makes a lot of fabulous observations with a cynicism and honesty I find quite delightful. I expected this collection of stories about love to be something like a written version of the film Love, Actually, and I suppose it sort of is. However, Levy's stories are all a bit on the melancholy side, lacking the cute couples uniting to make a happy ending, like Love, Actually has, though it actually does have several stories that do not end well.
The last TLC blog tour I participated in was for Before the Rain, a memoir supposedly of love and revolution that follows the romance of two lesbian reporters. I could not help comparing these two, because for all that Before the Rain is non-fiction and Love, in Theory fiction, this short story collection feels infinitely more personal. Having finished this, whether incorrectly or no, I feel I have a sense of who E. J. Levy is, through some of the themes that continually appeared throughout the stories, especially as several of the main characters were writers or worked in academia.Read more ›