Book Review: The Secret Lives of People in Love: Stories by Simon Van Booy

Title: The Secret Lives of People in Love: Stories
Author: Simon Van Booy
Genre: Short fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher for a TLC Book Tours tour
First line: This morning I woke up and was fifteen years old.

The Secret Lives of People in Love is Simon Van Booy’s first short story collection. He deals with life, love, loss, relationships – and sets the stories all over the world. His prose is breathtakingly beautiful, and he completely captures the ups and downs of the human condition; the little moments of pure beauty and joy, as well as the depths of devastation and despair.

Like many short fiction collections, there were some that I loved, some that I didn’t care for, and some that were just okay. What pushed me over the edge of the three-star cliff firmly into four-star territory was the sheer gorgeousness of Van Booy’s writing. He puts words together like few other authors. I’d read a story that didn’t resonate with me, but the next one would have passages that simply took my breath away.

As this was his first collection, I have a feeling that his second collection would be less uneven. And I also know that I can’t wait to read his novel and see what he does with a longer work. And just in case you think I’m exaggerating about how splendid his writing is, I marked a few passages to share with you:

“My memories are arranged like puddles – they are littered throughout the present moment. It seems arbitrary, that which the mind remembers, but I know it is not.” ~ from the story “The World Laughs in Flowers”

“He observed how each raindrop united with its closest other and then, split open by its own weight, ran down the glass in one even corridor.” ~ from the story “The Reappearance of Strawberries”

“I miss autumn – the season when summer takes on the memory of its own mortality. And then winter. And then the miracle season, when everything begins again fearlessly.” ~ from the story “Distant Ships”

“It only seemed like yesterday that small broken wings of snow had silently fallen against the shop window; only yesterday he’d boiled his daughter’s diapers on a frozen winter morning in Russia. Without memory, time would be no use to mankind, Serge thought.” ~ from the story “Apples”

I am not being facetious when I say I could literally open this book to a random page and find another passage just as magnificent.

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15 Responses to Book Review: The Secret Lives of People in Love: Stories by Simon Van Booy

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Secret Lives of People in Love: Stories by Simon … | ReviewTica

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I keep reading about Van Booy’s writing, so I’m eager to give it a try!

  3. Beth Hoffman says:

    I simply must read this! Wonderful review, Carrie!

  4. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    I really need to read more Van Booy. I loved his short nonfiction works on Why We Need Love, Why We Fight, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter. And everything I’ve heard about his short stories and novels leads me to believe I would love reading those too.

  5. Wendy says:

    I liked Love Begins In Winter a bit better than this collection, Carrie…I felt the stories were stronger (although in both books, the reader can enjoy beautiful writing!)…in fact, I gave this one 4 stars, and Love Begins in Winter 4.5 stars :)

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – I’m glad to hear it – this definitely will not be the last of his books I read.

  6. Kailana says:

    I finally have a book by Van Booy to read after hearing all sorts of positive response lately. I am looking forward to it!

  7. trish says:

    Oh, wow! You’re not kidding about the fantastic writing! I have EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER, and I’ve just moved it up in the pile after reading your review of THE SECRET LIVES OF PEOPLE IN LOVE.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  8. Pingback: Simon Van Booy, author of Everything Beautiful Began After, on tour July 2011 | TLC Book Tours

  9. Pingback: First lines of 2011 | BOOKS AND MOVIES