Cover image for O careless love : stories and a novella
O careless love : stories and a novella
Dodd, Susan M., 1946-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
274 pages ; 25 cm
So far you can't imagine -- The lost art of sleep -- Lady Chatterley's root canal -- Ethiopia -- I married a space alien -- Lokey man -- Adult education -- Song-and-dance man -- What I remember now -- In France they turn to stone when they die.
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Settings ranging from a desolate island in winter to a broken-down city bus at rush hour are the locale for love's unlikely -- and often inconvenient -- landings in these ten diverse and uncommon stones. An eccentric endodontist repairs a patient's freshly broken heart while performing a root canal. A Haitian woman charms snakes into keeping her company in an urban cave as she safeguards her grandchildren's sleep. A shy illustrator subsists through a long Vermont winter on occasional glimpses of a man in a blue pick-up truck.

Whether Dodd's characters are on the lookout or on the lam, love is what maps their migrations. An enduring species, they scavenge wherever scraps of hope may be found. The sound of their yearnings, muted and distinct, will linger in the reader's heart.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The title to Dodd's latest collection of short stories is phrased as an apostrophe to Love, and she presents love in its many haphazard guises. Dodd writes of ordinary characters who are strangely muted in their expressions of love and yet suffer no less dramatically than martyrs do. Thus a young couple, Haitian refugees in a desperate search for their lost children, find that "their eyes have become holy stigmata and their feet spread low blue flame wherever they walk." And a lonely middle-aged woman, after finding love with a stranger, sees "marks of holiness, like those saints that would start bleeding for no good reason but maybe God's." In Dodd's hands, a quiet Raymond Carveresque world turns unexpectedly operatic. But the opera ends only in anticlimax, leaving the reader with a mixed feeling of resignation and contentment, much like the experience of one of Dodd's characters: "she had lost her feel for sanctity. Everything she knew now was human, merely that. It would have to do." --Veronica Scrol

Publisher's Weekly Review

A dazzling range of characters and settings, a compassionate understanding of the human search for connection, a zest for negotiating the contemporary sexual battlefield, a keen ear for snappy, tart dialogue and a felicitous use of language distinguish Dodd's (The Mourner's Bench) new collection. These nine short stories and one novella explore romantic love, parental and filial love, and love as companionship, but they have in common an ability to surprise, amuse and touch the heart. Even when love is lost or unrequited, there is nothing lugubrious about these tales, buoyed as they are by conversational exchangesÄoften sassy, wisecracking and boldÄthat ring so beautifully that one yearns to read them aloud. The novella, "Ethiopia," is one of three stories where a black male protagonist and a white woman, both writers, take tentative steps toward love, and Dodd's turnabout plot, where each is almost destroyed by lack of self-worth, is spun with measured lucidity. A sub-theme conveys Dodd's concern for poor and homeless people, which she echoes in two other stories. "Adult Education,'' in which a black mail carrier and a white house cleaner meet on a bus in New Haven, is the only story where hope burns most strongly at the end. One of the three most affecting tales, "What I Remember Now," set in Vermont, is a beautifully controlled depiction of a tentative love affair between Junie, an illustrator accustomed to solitude, and Barter, a taciturn man who seems her destined soulmate but is not. Set in Boston and Cambridge, "So Far You Can't Imagine" and "Lady Chatterley's Root Canal" feature vulnerable protagonists searching unsuccessfully for romantic connection. In the first, a stressed professor opens the emotional gates for the questing Howard Schachter; in the other, the instrument of epiphany for Margaret Chatterley is a wiry old dentist whose repartee is as sharp as his drill, but whose heart is tender. While the remaining stories do not establish such clean cuts to the heart, the collection is a standout. Author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Dodd (The Mourner's Bench, LJ 6/1/98) uses her amazing command of language to present the eternal search for love in unsuspected venues. Her characters fail to fulfill their desperate longings, leaving the reader hungry for more. In "The Lost Art of Sleep," having left Haiti in search of respite and finding none, Lisabet is caring for her eight grandchildren while their parents search for work. She must leave the children in a cave outside the city limits while she begs for food and searches for the parents. Returning to the children at the end of the day, "Her arm tightens around the dark bundle slung against her hip: two worm-scarred apples, a cellophane bag with a sprinkling of coarse salts from pretzels, a loaf of moldy bread... Provisions." With such eloquence, Dodd exposes all of our unrequited, pedestrian yearnings. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/99.]ÄPatricia Gulian, South Portland, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.