Elevate Difference

Alone With You: Stories

For years, I read The New Yorker for the politics and music reviews more than for its fiction. Aside from stories by some of my favorite novelists—Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith—I was content to skip most fictional pieces.

However, a few weeks ago, I happened upon Marisa Silver’s astonishingly lovely story of youthful shiftlessness and indiscretion, “Temporary.” Imagine my delight—and surprise—when I sat down to my latest short story collection and found that it was not only by the same author; that same story was the first in the book.

Silver is one of those fortunate writers whose work has been selected by the literati for praise. Fortunate though she may be, she is also remarkably talented and deserving of such accolades. In Alone With You, Silver writes with empathy and grace about a diverse collection of characters. From the humiliation suffered by the Polish immigrant handyman to the embarrassment of young girls whose mother has a little too much to drink at seemingly every inopportune occasion, Silver explores each individual and their unique situation with the sensitivity of an insider. Many of the stories are tinged with sadness, but really, isn’t life just a collection of bittersweet moments?

In my mind, the best fiction comes from personal experience, so much so that it may not deviate far from actual events that once transpired. Though it’s impossible to say for sure, Silver seems to go beyond that limitation and write about universals without necessarily having lived so close to them. Whether you choose Alone With You or another of her short story collections, pick one up immediately.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, June 8th 2010

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