A Dance with Dragons
Inside Out

Where the God of Love Hangs Out

Where the God of Love Hangs Out: FictionWhere the God of Love Hangs Out: Fiction by Amy Bloom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amy Bloom was one of the Master Teachers at this year's Yale Writer's Conference, and I was very impressed by her. My blogpost about her craft talk is here: http://escottjones.typepad.com/myques....

That evening she read from the short story "Compassion and Mercy" contained within this volume, and I was mesmerized. I can be a very interactive audience member and I was quite engaged with her reading (she's an excellent reader of her own work) laughing and expressing awe at good phrases. Of course I bought the book. She signed it "For Scott--with every good and encouraging wish."

That story is the best in the volume. Bloom is a skilled writer, describing rich characters and gifted in crafting phrases and sentences.

But not every story engaged me as much at that one did. And in a few of the stories there were flaws in her writing, which surprised me. My workshop leader at Yale this year, Eileen Pollack, firmly denounced the use of "It is" and "There are" constructions and marked every appearance of the pronoun "it" in our manuscripts, instructing us to remove 19 of every 20 appearances. Unfortunately, I am now hyper-attuned to these constructions, including their overuse. I've enjoyed noticing that George R. R. Martin rarely uses them, while I had to quit reading a Zadie Smith story in the New Yorker because of three uses in the first paragraph. In some of the stories in this volume Bloom is guilty. I found myself re-writing the sentences in my head as I read along. I told Eileen the next day that she has ruined me as a reader.

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