The Dog of the Marriage

This book reaction was written by Friday blogger Annie Reid.

I’ve just started reading the new Amy Hempel, The Dog of the Marriage, and although I’m only a few stories in, already I think I can say: this is a magnificent book.

These are short stories that seem like poems, with each new line not adding more description, necessarily, but drawing back another curtain of meaning. Where the movement is poetic, symbolic and psychological, rather than logical (like Alan Hollinghurst’s insightful but near scientific descriptions of subtext in The Line of Beauty) or a linear compilation of description (two words: tea-towel fiction).

The opening story, three pages long, suddenly became about something different from what I was expecting. There was no sudden plot twist in the story, but an understated revelation of longing that was both utterly authentic and completely unexpected.

I’ll probably write more when I finish the thing. An interesting, similarly admiring review appears here. Darcy Cosper’s even read the whole book.

Details: The Dog of the Marriage, by Amy Hempel, Scribner Book Co., 160 pp., $20.


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