‘When the Year Grows Old’ by Amy Bloom

‘When the Year Grows Old’ introduces a sensible, practical suburban housewife in the midst of a nervous breakdown. No longer prepared or able to meet the demands of her controlling husband, Laura sets up a camp bed in the basement of her neat suburban house and regresses to her barefoot, black-clad student days. Her daughter observes this sudden change in her mother from the side-lines as Laura develops a penchant for Dunhill cigarettes and quoting Blake. Loss is a constant theme in Amy Bloom’s work, and this story about loss of youth, loss of love, loss of life, is wonderful. I love the juxtaposition of mother and daughter, and the temptation to regress to what is arguably a more complicated and yet ultimately freer time of life.

First published in Story, 1992, and collected in Come to Me, HarperPerennial, 1993, and Rowing to Eden, Granta, 2015

‘Your Borders, Your Rivers, Your Tiny Villages’ by Amy Bloom

Rejoice! Amy Bloom has a new novel coming this spring. She’s a hero of mine. Until then, try this story, which is a snapshot of a middle aged couple — not beautiful, not thin, not mocked for this — surprised to find themselves rewriting the scripts for four lives. It’s about companionable love and sex. It is a story for grown ups.

Published in Ploughshares in Fall 2002; anthologised in Where the God of Love Hangs Out, published by Granta, 2010.