To read Curled in the Bed of Love is to feel the incessant tug
between devotion and desire that can unmake even the closest
couple. These eleven stories are set in the San Francisco Bay Area,
and in true Left Coast style, Catherine Brady's characters are as
resolute in evading middle-class conformity as they are in clinging
to their illusions about love. And while they never shy from paying
their dues, they can't help but wonder sometimes if their choices
have at last accrued too high a cost. What lies in the bed of love,
with women and men curled sometimes in repose, sometimes in a
defensive knot, are failed dreams, reproofs, ambitions, and
Always, mortality threatens the lovers' embrace. In the title
story, Jim and his HIV-positive partner contend with an illness
that has fueled their love but also threatens to consume it. In
some stories, an outsider exposes the frailty of a relationship.
Claire, who's opted for a steady marriage in "The Loss of Green,"
is both stirred and repelled by the advances of her former mate
Sam, a radical environmentalist with a predatory need to reassert
his claim on her. And in "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord," Debbie,
compelled to translate a brief affair with her cousin's fiancé into
a profound transgression, comes clean on a sleazy national talk
All of Brady's stories are gritty and unflinching in their gaze,
yet lyrical and rich in the imagery of stasis and change--an empty
house too long on the market, a pair of kayakers riding out a patch
of rough sea, a greenhouse in which the orchid blooms only suggest
the darting vitality of butterflies and birds. There is much to
learn in these tales of flawed but good people working hard to hold
their lives together.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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