- Paperback: 223 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (September 12, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679720758
- ISBN-13: 978-0679720751
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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First Love and Other Sorrows Paperback – September 12, 1988
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One of my favorite stories is "Sentimental Education" where a male student sees a pretty young lady at the college he attends and longs to meet and date her. He occasionally sees her at different locations but is too shy to speak to her. He daydreams about meeting her as he falls head over heels in love. He discovers she signed up for a Medieval poetry class, so he changes his choice and signs up for the same class. Eventually they meet and discuss literature. The heart of this story is the strong physical and emotional needs that accompnay this "first love' experience. Brodkey is a tremendously gifted author who provides keen and sensitive insights into life as it was lived in the 1950s. He provides an interesting contrast of the viewpoints of working people and those who possess privilege, money, and therefore more power. This is a book rich with detailed observations about social distinctions and the human behavior that accompanies different positions in society. It provides a greater understanding of r life as it was lived within a particular cultural era. This book receives my highest recommendations. Erika Borsos (erikab93)
This book started out wonderfully, and Brodkey's seemingly autobiographical stories were brilliant in their honesty and sincerity, especially "The State of Grace", "First Love and Other Sorrows", and "Sentimental Education". In these, Brodkey draws on a few recurring themes throughout: financial status and happiness; intellect and isolation; vanity; self-pity; rebellion against what others feel one "ought" to do; etc. All this creates very compelling main characters that I cant help but feel are all (intentionally) poorly disguised versions of Brodkey, himself—not that that's a bad thing here. If the book ended after the first four stories, it would be 5 stars in my opinion, easily.
The last 70 pages or so depict, in a series of vignettes, a character named Laura and her family. For me, this structure didn't work too well. Another reviewer somewhere made a similar remark, which may have influenced my opinion, but I find myself in agreement. They just didn't captivate me the way the earlier stories in this collection did—they seemed unpolished, hasty, and merely tacked on to flesh out the length of this collection (which wouldn't be a big deal if the first four stories didn't share such a common thread). In the end, I just didn't really care. Maybe these scenes represent an aspect of Brodkey's life that I'm unfamiliar with and therefore may have missed something that would've made me appreciate them more.
Final word: highly recommend the first 160 pages, the last 4 pieces are nonessential...