Monday, October 15, 2012

Meghan Review: Love, in Theory by E.J. Levy

Love, in Theory by E.J. Levy is a gorgeous collection of short stories examining the nature of love, need, desire, and connection in human experience. Levy’s prose is compelling and poetic, succeeding in embodying each character with complexity and uniqueness. This is an especially impressive accomplishment because Levy dives deeply into all types of love—affairs, new romances, decades of marriage, gay and lesbian relationships, family feuds—with the same meticulous attention to detail and voice. It’s this kind of fluidity that makes it easy to understand why this collection is a winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

My favorite story within the collection was the final one, “Theory of Dramatic Action.” This piece tells the story of a graduate film student redefining love and boundaries after a life spent fearing commitment and pain. All of the film details within the text (things like rising character arcs and film angles) added to the mood, and certainly taught me a lot I’d never even considered about movie-making. Another element of this story that stood out to me was the use of second person point-of-view. It made the story very immediate and visceral, and allowed it to be read almost like a script itself, correlating with the sections labeled “Act 1” and “Act 2” within it, and sticking with the larger thread of film.

In addition to its film details, “Theory of Dramatic Action” problematized faithfulness and sexual orientation in a way I’d never imagined before, touching on elements like sadomasochism and affairs with authority figures. This entanglement of love and lust and fear is all described best in the text itself: “You wonder, idly, if the appeal of the love triangle can be traced back to the Trinity or if it is more archaic, more biological than that, if it has been there from the start, from the moment we entered the world: a mother, a father, a child.” Throughout the collection, Levy raises questions such as this—where did love come from? When did this need begin? And is what we theorize as love really love at all?

Recommended to: lovers, fighters, and people coming out of bad break-ups or diving into new romances, teenagers who doodle hearts in the margins.

Release Date: September 15th 2012  Pages: 224  Format: E-book
Source: TLC Book Tours  Publisher: University of Georgia Press  Buy It: Book Depository

This is a review by Meghan. You can find her here on Goodreads or on Twitter @meghanc303


  1. Your review made my day! Thank you, Meghan!!! It's wonderful to feel that a reviewer really "got" my stories!


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