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All for Love
by Amy Bloom

 

 

In three works of fiction, including A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Amy Bloom has shown a near-encyclopedic command of the human emotions, from acedia to ecstasy to plain old yearning. But as she explains in the following essay, love keeps taking center stage. Find out why the author is drawn to the many-splendored thing, and why she considers it not only essential but downright subversive.


It may be true that every writer really has only one subject: society for Trollope, violence for Richard Rhodes. I think my subject is love. All its forms fascinate me; each variety demands my attention and requires that I write about it.

Some people think that the story ends when the characters fall in love and stay in love; some people think that the only kind of love worth writing about is heartbreak. I think that there is enough heartbreak and drama in the best and longest marriage to make a good story and that ending the story with the first wave of romance is like stopping the hike at the foot of Everest.

I have often thought that love between a man and a woman is already such an interspecies challenge that race and class are lesser hurdles. Beyond that, I think that when we fall in love, the other person--same sex, opposite sex, same color, different color--is automatically Unknown Territory. To be a couple is to spend a lifetime trying to bridge a gap between our country and theirs. No matter how much you have in common, you will never quite speak the same language, and if you have very little in common, love can still make its own language, even if some nuance is lost and certain old jokes do not translate.

Beyond the love that leads to the making of a couple and a family, I write about all the other kinds of love, because they are not less and their passion is at least as great. The love that has no wish past this moment (which we also call lust, but which sometimes has its own purity, a rare, disturbing love between two bodies, even if it doesn't merge two lives); the love between siblings (and the history and the crosscurrents and the jokes and the wounds); the love between parent and child (for better and worse, there is no greater passionate attachment and no greater catastrophe in its absence); and the love between friends (which often gets such short and sentimental shrift, as if it is not an even greater passion for having so little formal celebration and public role).

And, within this mosaic, are all the jagged pieces that call to me: opportunities missed, gestures misunderstood, letters unsent or lost in the mail, hatred like no other (there is nothing so cruel as the anger of someone you love, nothing so lonely as that person's indifference), an ebb and flow of feelings that gives everyday people a complete, innate grasp of Othello and Juliet and Mercutio, and the endless overturning of convention and expectation, because love is, most of all, a subversive act.

Amy Bloom is the author of two collections of stories, Come to Me and A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, and Love Invents Us, a novel. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives in Connecticut.

 

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