In addition to sexuality, Bloom likes to focus on loss. In "Stars at Elbow and Foot," the main character has just lost her baby; then, in the following story entitled "Hold Tight," we have the reverse of a teenage girl losing her mother. Both of these are exquisitely rendered. Really, the entire collection is about love: maternal love, friendly love, sexual love, and how sometimes they can get all mixed up. In the center are two stories focusing on the same characters-Lionel and Julia. What makes it interesting is that the first story ("Night Vision") is told entirely from Lionel's point of view, so the reader meets the people in his life through his eyes. Then, in "Light Into Dark" we suddenly see Lionel as these others see him, and it's just fascinating to see the differences! Bloom's prose is consistently stunning. Take this passage from "Rowing to Eden," a story about Mai, a middle-aged beauty who's going through treatment for breast cancer, her husband Charley, and her best friend since college (and a lesbian) Ellie
It seems to Mai that even her subconscious has lost its subtlety. Mais is famous for her subtle humour, her subtle beauty, her subtle understanding of the Bronte sisters, of nineteenth-century England, of academic politics and the art of tenure, which she got at thirty. Now she feels as subtle as Oprah and not even as quick.
That's Bloom being delicate; she also knows how to be raw, as in the thoughts of the narrator of "The Story":
The story I began to write would have skewered her, of course. Anyone who knew her would have read it and known it was she and thought badly of her while reading. She would have been embarassed and angry. That really is not what I have in mind. I want her skin like a rug on my floor, warm throat slit, heart still beating behind the newly bricked-up wall.
There isn't really a weak point in this collection; the only thing I wish is that it was longer (it's only eight stories and weighs in at 163 pages). If you love stories that focus on characters and emotions, rather than plot, and if you eat up beautiful writing, you will definitely want to own this book. And if not, well, this book just might change your mind!