Hearts: Breaking/Mending by Stephen Jerome Kohn

Hearts: Breaking/Mending

Short Stories Relationships: Beginnings and Endings
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In his debut short-fiction collection, Kohn offers vignettes about love’s triumphs and casualties.

These 19 brief tales resemble an anthropologist’s notes about urban liaisons. Indeed, the author confesses to jotting down stories during tedious business meetings, and in his tales, readers observe business people similarly trying to carve out time for (sometimes) lasting love. The most fully developed story, “Aromas of Love,” sweetly develops a meet-cute between two people surprised to find friendship in the aisles of Zabar’s in Manhattan. Other stories embrace more expansive possibilities, as in “Finding a Lost Diamond,” in which Harry, a 50-ish divorced man in Miami Beach ponders “if and how other men should mix in his life,” before he reconnects with his ex-wife. “June, Roberta and Paul” twists a familiar other-woman story into a droll cautionary tale about assumptions and extramarital affairs. Many of these episodic tales wrap up neatly, though some, such as “Exit at Charlotte,” which details a man’s crude attempts to seduce his airplane seatmate, seem mainly to be collections of old jokes. Some metaphors, meanwhile, seem unintentionally humorous, as when a couple settles differences “quickly, without crumbs left behind life’s cushions to become moldy.” Overall, the stories have a direct, to-the-point style, peppered with frequent executive summaries (“Middle-age divorce creates a paradise for some men, but for others a hell of self-doubt, with their sensuality sublimated by work”) and often read like quickly sketched script outlines. At times, however, the stories’ conclusions seem sententious, even superfluous, as in “Daniel and Susan,” which ends with the line, “Poignant memories trump all else in life” or “My Hero!” which concludes, “Superficial wounds quickly heal; wounds to the soul never do.”

Brief but often engaging fiction that attempts to dissect the concepts of love and attraction.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1469995687
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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