From one of our ablest chroniclers of marriage, middle age, and urban myth, a collection of stories that subverts the standard domestic drama with an outrageousness that mixes tragedy with black humor.. In Referred Pain Lynne Sharon Schwartz surpasses her reputation as a scrupulous stylist who writes with both passion and discipline. Here, as in her earlier collections, the stories, whether realistic or fanciful, are distinguished by their intensity and their impeccable attention to the nuances of language. Her characters confront inner demons, playing out fantasies they crave and dread. On the surface, they are living ordinary lives, but Schwartz reveals their subversions and perversions with wicked wit and psychological acuity.
In the title novella, Koslowski, beset by a kind of survivor's guilt, insists to the point of absurdity that his elaborate dental work is emblematic of his immigrant parents' suffering in a German concentration camp and in the siege of Leningrad. In "Francesca," a mild professor finds himself calmly contemplating incest. In "Hostages of Fortune," a seemingly conventional couple live out an extended fantasy of raising two imaginary children. In "Sightings of Loretta," a journalist realizes he has spent years pursuing a chimerical, unfulfilled romance, while oblivious to his own wife. Several of the stories take place in the surreal realm of fantasy itself. Schwartz, an award-winning writer, has been lauded for her precisely observed domestic dramas and comedies and described as having an anthropologist's eye for her characters and their stories. This collection will give further resonance to her already distinguished literary reputation.
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