Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy (new HarperPerennial edition)

The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy
Copyright 2007 - short stories
New edition printed 2010 by HarperPerennial (includes a bonus story)
174 pages + 20 pages of extra material

"It's just a Peter Pan rose," Edgar said.

The man laughed, and his eye slipped from its moorings. "And I suppose that the wind is just air? And not laughter's laughter?"

--from "Where They Hide is a Mystery"

There are some lies that, under the right circumstances, are the only truth.

--from "Snow Falls and then Disappears"

It's no secret that I'm a die-hard fan of Simon Van Booy. So, naturally, I had to acquire a copy of the new HarperPerennial edition of The Secret Lives of People in Love, which contains a bonus story not printed in the Turtle Point Press edition: "The Mute Ventriloquist."

Drake remembers his mother kneeling to explain that the man upon whose lap he perched could not speak, whispering to her son that the ventriloquist probably had something wrong with his own voice.

But Drake found nothing so strange about someone unable to find words for life. Children spend the mornings of their lives in a sea of imagination before being hauled out onto rocks by jealous adults who've forgotten how to swim.

--from "The Mute Ventriloquist"

I've read and reread this book since it was released by the smaller press and it only improves with repetitive reading. Simon's writing is so carefully, brilliantly crafted that each reading is a new experience. Different portions speak to the reader and his or her place in life and love, while at the same time beautiful phrases and sentences that seemed to jump out on the first reading reassert the author's subtle genius and stunning empathy.

And, now the strange bit . . .

The first time I read "The Mute Ventriloquist," I must have been in the wrong mood for Simon's writing because it just didn't seem to fit and I didn't get the point. That's why it's taken me such a long time to write a review. I knew I must be missing something, whether from fatigue or mood or just the wrong moment. So, I set the book aside and waited for about 6 weeks, maybe longer. When I finally picked up the book to reread the new story . . . well, let's just say I was baffled that I could have possibly felt that "The Mute Ventriloquist" was anything but classic Simon. It is a sweet, understated story of love and loss, tenderness and pain. Like all of Simon Van Booy's stories, it quite simply took my breath away.

Bottom line:

Exquisite writing that owns a permanent home on the good shelves. If you haven't read Simon Van Booy's writing, you definitely should.

In other news:

I didn't have access to a computer, most of last week, because we were here:
We rented a cabin in Fraser, Colorado to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my delightful in-laws. At our peak, we had 18 people in the house. I need a house like that. We had no problem fitting everyone, although at least two people had to sleep on couches (very comfy couches) on our busiest night. It was cool and heavenly dry and the weather was perfect nearly every day. We had a wonderful time.

Fiona was boarded at the vet's and totally freaked when she arrived home, but she finally settled down after about 3 hours of madly zipping around the house and wailing. That was very odd. Fiona is not a talker, but she let us know she was deeply offended. Fortunately, she is back to her normal self, now. I'll have to either snap a quick pic, tomorrow, or dig in the files in order to find a photo for Fiona Friday.

My sidebar is heinously out of date, so I'll work on that and a review of A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware, this weekend. How was your reading week?


  1. What a lovely location to be for a few days. Also, poor, poor Fiona. You should have gotten a pic of her wailing. heh.

    The book sounds wonderful, Simon was great in person and I've been wanting to get a copy of his book ever since. I need to see if my bookstore has a copy!

  2. The book sounds great and the trip sounds wonderful! Poor Fiona didn't get to go. I'd be offended too.

  3. glad to hear that you just need some space from that additional story to really enjoy it. Sounds like a great collection! Wow, gorgeous cabin in CO. Sounds like you all had a great time, minus Fiona...who was peeved...maybe you should take her along next time. :)

  4. Beautiful! The book AND the Colorado getaway. It looks like tons of fun, and I want to pack up and go right now!

  5. Amy,

    She was running and wailing at the same time, poor girl. I don't think she sat in once place for more than 5 minutes, during that first 3 hours after I brought her home. Poor Fi. It's hard being cooped up when you're an active girl.

    You met Simon?! Wahoo for you! He is a total gentleman. I send people to meet him, whenever I can, and every single lady I've sent has been completely smitten. Definitely rush out to buy his book(s). :)


    I think it would have been much worse to take Fi, since we had 4 plane flights and a couple of car trips (with 5 people in the vehicle -- but our rental was a Suburban, so at least we all fit comfortably). The book is awesome and the trip was wonderful. We had a super week. :)


    Yes, that was odd that I needed space to enjoy that story, but I'm glad it worked for me on the second reading. Maybe it's just because I've already read the book so many times that I was a little jarred by the addition of a new story but for whatever reason, I'm glad I set it down and waited till I was ready.

    Poor Fiona needed a catsitter instead of a cage, but we felt obligated to board her because she tends to chew on things when she's in freak-out mode and we figured she would be upset with us gone. Obviously, we were right. LOL She is very, very happy, now. The cabin was awesome.


    You should definitely go. Bring something soothing for dry noses, though. We all got nosebleeds from the dry air and altitude. They were the most worthwhile nosebleeds, ever. LOL

  6. What a beautiful view from the cabin! I love being in the mountains of Colorado.

  7. Terri,

    Me, too. I'm a big fan of Colorado. And the view was definitely amazing. :)

  8. Anonymous11:02 PM

    I think you need to change your name to Simonvanbooyfool. :-D

  9. Softdrink,

    Possibly so. There's obviously no doubt I'm addicted to his writing!


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