Seven shades of love: variations on a theme
“A love story—your own or anyone else’s—is interior, hidden. It can never be accurately reported, only imagined. It is all dreams and invention. It’s guesswork.”
So Joan Wickersham writes in one of the seven short stories that comprise The News from Spain. And though her character’s assessment of love may be accurate, throughout this collection Wickersham does a lovely job of painting a picture of love in its many shades. Each story is so exquisitely rendered that the characters come to life, filling its few pages with enough intimate knowledge of their lives to support a novel.
Those characters and their relationships cover a wide swath of emotional territory. As the book opens, the reader meets a couple grappling with the man’s one-time infidelity, trying to work through the betrayal. Their relationship is contrasted with the wedding of a couple whose relationship is surely platonic, even on the eve of their marriage. Other stories delve into maternal love, love found late in life, infidelity, May-December romances, the love between friends and every imaginable love in between. Literal “news from Spain” is, indeed, interwoven throughout each account. Sometimes that news has an incredible impact on the story; other times, it’s merely a thread of continuity.
Wickersham shines with this short story collection. Her previous books—an account of her father’s death The Suicide Index and the novel The Paper Anniversary—have been lauded by reviewers and awards committees alike. There’s little doubt that her third release deserves as much recognition as those that have come before. As language and characters unfold throughout The News from Spain, Wickersham shows that she is a master of the written word and storytelling in all its forms.