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Criminals

Love Stories

List Price: $15.95

January 12, 2016 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781619026186
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“Trueblood is an elegant writer, and she wrings a nobility out of even the most troubled characters. Her work is an exercise in literary restraint and extreme empathy, her sentences sharp enough to cut but warm enough to melt.” —New York Times Book Review

Valerie Trueblood is, simply put, one of the finest story writers who is currently working in the American language, as prize committees acknowledge. In this, her beautifully made third collection, each of the fifteen stories asks two defining questions: What kind of love story is this? as well as, Who here is exactly what kind of criminal?

In “His Rank,” an armed man enters a bar to claim the girl he understands to be his destiny only to be told she has, the weekend before, married someone else. In “Skylab,” in which lovers have run away together to work medical relief in Malaysia, the young woman is reading the Koran to learn what it says about adulterers even as she waits for satellite debris to rain down on her. She’ll be punished, won’t she, for the crime of happiness? And in “The Bride of the Black Duck” a new widow falls in love with an entire complicated family in her neighborhood, with whom she’s suddenly, irrevocably plighted her troth: she is theirs, just as they are hers.

In Criminals the stories are linked by theme, the characters often tender, movingly, but flawed; that is they are realistic. Love is hard won.

VALERIE TRUEBLOOD is a co-trustee of the Denise Levertov Literary Trust and is a contributing editor of The American Poetry Review. Her novel, Seven Loves, was selected for Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program. She lives in Seattle, WA.

Praise

“[Trueblood’s stories] become love stories only in acts of redemption and release, with a complexity that reveals Trueblood’s keen eye for the nuances of connection… Trueblood is an elegant writer, and she wrings a nobility out of even the most troubled characters. Her work is an exercise in literary restraint and extreme empathy, her sentences sharp enough to cut but warm enough to melt.” —New York Times Book Review

“[Criminals] resembles the kind of fiction that regularly garners critical accolades and finds its way onto prize shortlists… Criminals emphasizes style and subtlety.” —The Globe & Mail

“If the course of love never runs smooth, per Shakespeare’s reading, Seattle author Trueblood’s take on the same topic features speeds bumps so large that they can take out your transmission. It’s not that all the stories here deal with romantic impulse — love has many guises — but she’s at her best trying to explain our most inexplicable attractions…” —Seattle Times

“Intense, complicated short stories about intense, complicated people… Trueblood’s collection feels like a condensed version of a novel, dense with incident and crowded with fully realized characters. They unfold quickly, with frequent flashbacks and sidelong observations so insightful they are almost distracting. You have to read them carefully, or read them twice, to get the full effect… A seasoned, deeply knowing writer with riches to share.” —Kirkus

“Perhaps the best story is ‘Aiken,’ in which a woman, Bridget, visits her aging parents, who have recently taken in a homeless man as a tenant. As Bridget tries to determine this new resident’s agenda, Trueblood deftly examines a family’s idiosyncrasies and the difficulties associated with letting one’s guard down to accept happiness.” —Publishers Weekly

“Trueblood’s rich 15 tales, varied in length, offer both wide-ranging observation and detailed precision, particularly when it comes to characters’ inner negotiations, struggles, and regrets.” —Booklist

Criminals is a passionate reminder of how love can make us capable of anything. Valerie Trueblood is writing among the most exquisite stories in the English language today, full of candor, sly wit, and emotional range. She is ever mindful of the ways in which we willfully confuse pleasure and torment, recklessness and ardent devotion—and why we ultimately turn to stories for consolation.”—Manuel Muñoz, author of What You See in the Dark and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue

“I know nothing quite like Valerie Trueblood’s stories, with their quick, sharp movement to the most ruthless truths.” —Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising

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