A German author makes his U.S. debut with 27 portraits of love dying on the vine.
Biller explores the quiet tragedy of relationships by focusing on those singular moments when spaces between lovers become chasms. As is the case of a pining lover and a reluctant fiancée, in “The Mahogany Elephant,” the sense of inevitable sorrow is palpable throughout the book. In “Seven Attempts at Loving,” the love of a pair of Czech nationals, who have been trying to stay together since childhood, survives the revolution but not the passage of time. Passion remains elusive for the book’s mismatched misanthropists who squander true love. One might think the brevity of the stories would work against them, but Biller has obviously taken to heart the lesson that less can be more. The intangible brunette who calls her contemptuous boyfriend “Tom-Cat,” in “The Maserati Years,” is defined only by two voice mails in which she first claims pregnancy and subsequently dismisses him: “Hi, had a fright? Just wanted to see how cold you really are. Don’t ever call me again. Miaow.” In the three pages of “Melody,” Biller captures the vacillating rhythms and insanity of love with the story of Thomas, who mourns his dead wife, converts to Judaism, marries a doppelgänger, has a child and drives his car into the East River before settling down with Melody, the woman he should have been with in the first place. “They’re doing fine,” Biller writes, and it’s hard not to hope that it’s true.
<\b>A globe-spanning collection that offers a keyhole view of mostly doomed relationships.