- File Size: 2398 KB
- Print Length: 330 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (August 18, 2015)
- Publication Date: August 18, 2015
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00RKO3TVG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,033,213 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$16.95|
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Sea Lovers: Selected Stories Kindle Edition
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“Valerie Martin is a consummate stylist. A cool, spare writer who can make the fantastic utterly, often horribly believable.” —The Boston Globe
“Revelatory. . . . Distinguished by an alluring precision. . . . Exact and provocative.” —Jane Smiley, The Guardian (London)
“Elegantly ruthless. . . . Valerie Martin dissects the inner lives of men and women (not to mention one chilling mermaid).” —More
“Captivating. . . . Martin’s writing is a reward in itself, a wonderful precision-tool. She uses it to chisel at the human condition—and the effect is astonishing.” —Financial Times
“Exceptional. . . . This immaculate collection spans Martin’s career from the tight and serious ambition of her youth, through a wittier, more playful phase investigating creativity through stories about music and painting as well as writing.” —Daily Mail
“Enthralling. . . . The prose is grounded in precision and certainty, it’s a steady navigation system, and cantilevers the most remarkable flights of fancy with what we recognize as all-too-human behavior.” —Chronogram
“Varied, engaging, and often shocking. . . . An insightful look into the evolution of Martin’s writing and her talent for depicting our darker natures.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“This collection is rife with the unspoken cracks between people, and leaves a haunting, lingering impression.” —Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
www.valeriemartinonline.com --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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I had not heard of Valerie Martin before reading this collection. I will probably search out some of her other short stories. I am very glad to have made her acquaintance.
The business with death and animals and yes, so often, dead animals put me somewhat on edge as a reader. It didn't take too long for me, as a reader, to root for any animal in any story - the rabbits in "His Blue Period", the hapless mare who becomes an amorous target for a centaur in "Et in Acadiana Ego", to just run away! Run away, because if you stick around with this author, it's not ending well for you. (And actually - spoiler alert! - the bunnies turned out fine. Well, not as long-lived as their human companion, but such is the fate of a bunny.)
My favorite story would have to be "The Change", possibly because the story's theme has some intersection with recent events in my own life. The fanciful notion of "The Change" being indeed a shocking and supernatural metamorphosis is a captivating one, dulled somewhat in effect only because the wife in the story is drawn as rather unsympathetic and fairly opaque, a necessity perhaps for a story with the kind of "payoff" that is its conclusion. Well, at least this one *had* a conclusion. (Martin has a penchant for leaving off with no resolution. In terms of evolution of the short story form I get it, although I don't have to like it.)
My least favorite story in the collection was the eponymous one, "Sea Lovers". It's short and chillingly visceral, and both these things are okay in my book, but being doggedly literal I still can't figure out why the mermaid needed to do what she evidently was instinctually programmed to do. "Because, Sirens! And mythology!" just doesn't quite cut it for me.
My last short story collection was "Black Glass" by Karen Joy Fowler (who I've only just discovered), and I'll admit that the anthology set the bar kind of high for me. Ms. Martin is no slouch even in comparison, but I just don't feel the same affinity for her brand of existential alienation and nature's push-pull of exhilaration and horror that is the life/death cycle, as I do for writers who actually do (at least somewhat) tie things up in "neat little bows", to put the pejorative spin on it.
The stories themselves draw you into their narrative, but one feels almost annoyed at the conclusion of each – as if there was more that could have been included to complete the storyline.
The stories, themselves are varied and do demonstrate the range of the author. They are not new, but have been written over the course of her career. There is tenderness despite an overall sadness in the contents.
Those who enjoy short stories might like to read this collection.
The final four stories were more fanciful and actually were my favorites.
In all, this is a satisfactory collection, but not one that I feel deserves high recommendation.
The best stories, such as “Sea Lovers,” use fantastical or surreal characters and events as commentary on human lives. Love plays a large role in the collection and there are echoes of classic themes such as the treacherous mermaid here. This particular story is terrifying, but some of the others are humorous. They are all interesting and unusual.
Top international reviews
Personally, I thought that the very first tale, "Spats" was the best. Within this story, we learn of a woman whose partner has left her, leaving his beloved dogs behind. As she mourns, and hopes for his return, she slowly begins to see that perhaps the dogs' relationship mimics that of her and her lost love. The resolution to this tale is both heart-breaking, but also strangely liberating.
This collection is the first time that I have read anything by Martin, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the tales I took the time with had moments of beauty. However, I have to admit to not reading all of the tales. By the time that I had read the first two sections, I found that I was yearning for something more substantial to occupy my mind.