BETWEEN THE LINES: Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom, a product of Long Island, is a mother, a Yale University teacher, a practicing psychotherapist, a television show writer and an author, a blend of expertise that stokes her sparks of reflective inspirations and writing creativity. And perhaps, those diversities have been contributing to her literary successes. One of Ms. Bloom’s books, Away, ranked as a #3 New York Times bestseller. Ms. Bloom’s collection of short stories titled, Come to Me, climbed to the finalist slot of The National Book Critic Circle Award. Moreover, she has written a variety of features for an array of prestigious periodicals and expectedly, this crafty litterateur won a National Magazine Award.

Amy Bloom’s latest tome, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, a fiction title, exemplifies the talents of an astute writer with limpidly clear prose and jovial storytelling. This novelist’s descriptive passages are like an observatory that views real people in a real world, as opposed to the contrived stage of an imaginary concept. She spins it in so a simplistic, matter-of-fact style that it may as well be non-fiction. In fact, as one reads her moving compilation of episodes, it surprises the reader into biting reveries as if facing a mirror that reflects personal recollections.

Ms. Bloom’s new novel comprises a compendium of anecdotes that, although each is independent of the other, they are bound by a transparency—the tragic or heartbreaking, vicissitudes of life.

In one of the tales, two middle-aged couples, both with adult children, are lifelong friends. At some point, an oddity burgeons. Advanced in age and plagued with health issues, two members of this quartet, though seemingly content with their respective marriages, delve into a flirtatious behavior that escalates to outright infidelities, which leads them to separate from their current spouses. They propose to remarry one another, though knowing that their contemplations of selfish wantons will not only fracture the pair’s immediate families, but also the households of their offspring and grandchildren. Nonetheless, risking it all—with the comportment predictable of twenty-year old lovers—the geriatric newlyweds resolve to defect and restart new lives, which eventuate to a disappointing sequel of their priors, a lesson attached to a heavy cost.

A subsequent short story tells of a daughter, who since early childhood, despises her father; then, as he nears his passing, she abruptly sets aside feelings that have been festering in her inner self, the ill memories and jagged wounds inflicted by his verbal abuse. Compunction drives her to assume the responsibility and tasks to care for him as if they had throughout enjoyed a mellifluous, affectionate relationship. But can a person, who has harbored abhorrence or even hatred for a parent, disarm those sentiments and succor the infirmed? Indeed, such a deed is a frequent occurrence, suggests Ms. Bloom’s vignette, for humans can learn to forget; after all, the whole of society is not evil.

Although those topics swirl in darkish themes, Amy Bloom deploys her extraordinary writing skills to insert tactful comedic scenes that evince humor and rise to a soothing levity. Her moral message is powerful, poignant like a bitter medicine and satisfyingly entertaining.

When this correspondent asked Ms. Bloom, if given choices, how would she prefer to spend her hours of leisure? “Well, definitely writing. Also painting and cooking in my home, while listening to Jazz.” She then paused and emphasized, “ But mostly writing.” An obvious dedication that, in part, explains her superbly composed works.