My review of Simon Van Booy’s lovely short story collection, The Secret Lives of People in Love, is up on The Philippine Online Chronicles. [For the record, Mr. Van Booy, I would've killed for that title.] A snippet from the review:
Though the nineteen short stories revolve around love and its many forms, it is “secret” that is the operative word. Defining events in the characters’ lives are mentioned, hinted at, but rarely revealed, almost never elaborated on, although those secrets reverberate throughout the characters’ lives – death, divorces, accidents, disappearances, even origins. It takes guts, especially when common thought bids a writer to ease the reader into the story, to get on the reader’s good side by offering him glimpses of lives. In this collection, Van Booy has taken Anne Sexton’s words to heart – “Tell almost the whole story” – and has elevated it.
Let me give you a spoiler of the review: I loved this book, to itty bits and pieces. There’s just something so unabashedly earnest about the entire thing. And yes, forgive me, heartbreaking. How does one react to lines like, My wife is deaf. Once she asked me if snow made a sound when it fell and I lied. We have been married twelve years today, and I am leaving her, which hits you at the beginning of a story? Or something like, I want to feel it somehow happened like that because things happen for a reason. I want to believe this more than anything because if it were just an accident, then God must have died before he could finish the world. Oh, my heart. [Also, Simon Van Booy is cute.]
Aherm. If you’re partial to reviews that tell you the reviewer liked the book, without the reviewer having to resort to phrases like “itty bits and pieces,” and calling the author — for shame! — cute, then I suggest y’all head on over there. Please and thank you!
And many many thanks to Erica of HarperPerennial!