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Wayne State University Press

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Love/Imperfect

Stories by Christopher T. Leland

Award Winner

By WSU Faculty, Fiction

Made in Michigan Writers Series

Paperback
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 9780814334959
Pages: 192 Size: 5.5x7.5
eBOOK
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 9780814335369
Review

In the first-person stories the reader becomes the narrator's confidante, whereas third-person turns the same reader into a voyeur.

— Publishers Weekly

Whether it is romantic, parental, or platonic, we all aspire to find perfect love, even though we know love is notoriously imperfect. Depending on the lover and the beloved, love can be unrequited, blind, feigned, cowardly, confused, and even murderous. In this compelling new collection, Christopher T. Leland explores the notion of such imperfect love in eighteen stories, as characters struggle to understand both love’s essential strangeness and its shifting meaning over time.

While each story points to the tremendous task of understanding the human heart, each also suggests that the notion of loving—even at its most violent and terrible—is a gift. In the moment of murder, the nameless narrator of "Traveler" loves his victim just as estranged friends and former lovers Esther and Tim still somehow love each other in "Reprise." Young husband and wife Del and Dora love each other despite the pressures of war, meddling families, and childbirth in "How the Coe Boys Got Their Names," as Gogan loves his uncle even though the uncle’s violence becomes too much to bear in "Last Frontier." Even the horrified father of "Swim" grants to his mad son an opportunity to control his own destiny, while the sentimental father of "Peach Queen" offers to his son a talisman of their bond.

Leland’s deftly crafted characters and narratives find their power in the thrilling space between love and uncertainty, distress, and even terror. Fans of short fiction will enjoy the profound and intriguing stories in Love/Imperfect.

Christopher T. Leland was a novelist, translator, scholar, poet, and teacher. He was professor of English at Wayne State University, where he had taught since 1990. He was the author of nine other books, including Meantime, The Book of Marvels, and Letting Loose.

As in real life, gay mingles with straight in Leland's first collection (after five novels), 17 shimmering sensual short stories linked by the thematic threads of intimacy and love…Leland's supple, succinct prose marks him as a short story virtuoso."

– Richard Labonte, Between the Lines

That forward slash-the pointed grout between Love and Imperfect-is telling punctuation bifurcating the title of this finely honed collection. These stories define definition, edge edgy. The stories bound over boundaries, effortless osmosis, transmitting the erotic fluidity of desire, loss, memory, time. Christopher T. Leland's lyrical fictions cleave. They tear you up/they bind you back together, line-by-line."

– Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone

In his satisfying first story collection (after Letting Loose), Leland deals with the wonders of in- timacy, portraying a broad range of relationships, from the engaged couple of 'Casing the " Promised Land,' whose interactions are full of missed connections and lovely synchronicity, to the frank sex talks of the gay couple at the center of 'Fellatio,' without sacrificing unity of theme and approach. In the first-person stories the reader becomes the narrator's confidante, whereas third-person turns the same reader into a voyeur.

– Publishers Weekly, Publishers Weekly

Seventeen sensual tales, linked by the thematic threads of intimacy, desire and love, depict worried mothers, absent fathers, inter-class sexual affairs and men afraid of their desires. Leland?s supple prose marks him as a short story virtuoso.

– Colm Toibin, South Florida Gay News

There is a surprising edginess in Leland's stories that has nothing to do with their edgy subject matter, but with timing, the multitude of one-line paragraphs in which so much happens so swiftly. The many asides give the stories their strange power, as if they are being overheard rather than read."

– Laura Kasischke, author of Eden Springs (Wayne State University Press, 2010)

In Love/Imperfect, Leland proves he's a virtuoso at rendering the sensual rhythms possible in beautiful language. His new collection reads like a finely cut jewel each facet of which casts light on a different love relationship, sexual experience, or desire, the whole thematically unified even as each fiction draws from a very diverse spectrum of eras, settings, and sensitively written lives. These tales are, indeed, about imperfect loves, shaded by nostalgic longing for lost or unrequited relationships, intense physical passions, and awe at the rarity of true, lasting love. Leland's pitch and range are perfect for each variation on his theme, making Love/Imperfect a wonderfully rich collection-entertaining, brilliant, satisfying in every way."

– Douglas Unger, author of Leaving the Land and Looking for War and Other Stories<br /><br />

Compelling, original, and sweeping in its precise and poetic exploration of love. Leland takes us on a journey that is sometimes humorous and often painful, but we arrive at our destination with a certain and deeper understanding of the complexities of love in all of its manifestations."

– Dorene O\'Brien, author of Voices of the Lost and Found (Wayne State University Press, 2007)

  • 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Award - Result: Finalist in the Short Stories category