A blind man can see how great a writer Amy Bloom is. A practicing psychotherapist as well, Bloom exhibits a mastery over her craft that few short story writers do. A BLIND MAN CAN SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU is a perfect collection of stories about human beings who could actually be people with whom you interact in everyday life.
The frailties and insecurities of Bloom's characters resonate with honest construction --- they say and do things that make sense. In mining what our hip urban culture has declared dead and deadening, namely the American suburb, Bloom taps into an emotional current or two that runs through real people's real lives. In "Rowing To Eden," a cancer patient, her heartsick husband, and her valient best friend, a lesbian and cancer survivor herself, end up taking care of each other in quiet and meaningful ways. In "Night Vision," an uncomfortable homecoming becomes a time of unexpected nurturing during which a mother tells her son, "I love you past speech." (Now that's dialogue!) In the title story, another protective mother watches her love for her child swing a pendulum of strange emotions as her child undergoes sex-change surgery. Normal people who encounter and overcome extreme circumstances are the definition of "heroes." This book can barely contain the courage and admirable strength and fortitude found in its characters.
They are not sentimental stories, nor do they bend to the whims of melodrama. Rather, they are all the more moving because Bloom recognizes just how moving they are --- she doesn't fudge their impact with unnecessary emotional embellishment. She knows she doesn't need to sell us on the importance of these situations in the lives of her creations --- we feel it as if we've known them all our lives, thanks to her skill and craft.
Each story is as complete as a novel. Bloom's uncanny ability to delve under the skins of the seemingly pale-hearted average citizen who lives in a world mad for prefabricated specialness is particularly rewarding to the reader --- each of these characters is very special if only because they are individuals, not hipster icons masquerading as characters. No publicist could spin these lives she weaves into anything more wondrous than what we read about on the page.
A BLIND MAN CAN SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU is a four-star adventure for a serious reader, a lover of humanity who turns to art to see the realities of life reflected back at them couched in confident words and emotions.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on July 31, 2001