Jeff Giles
January 13, 2010 AT 05:00 AM EST

Short stories seem so harmless. What are they even about? People who have a hard time talking to other people, usually. But great ones — the ones that don’t just reflect life but actually conjure it in full force — can mess up your head and heart. Amy Bloom, best known for the novel Away, writes stories like that. Where the God of Love Hangs Out contains interwoven tales about a grieving widow and stepson who get too close, as well as a series about two couples who, uh, play musical chairs. Bloom?s an economical writer — you don?t gasp at the beauty of her sentences. Still, she’ll make you believe you didn’t just read these stories, but lived them. A?

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