What We Save for Last
Short Story Collection
In this fine collection of short stories . . . Bliss captures in a single moment the architecture of entire lives. --New York Newsday
Published by Milkweed Editions, 1992
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In What We Save for Last Corinne Demas Bliss writes movingly about passions, desires, losses, and secret undercurrents, revealing the complexity and fragility of personal relationship. She explores human love in relationships between lovers, spouses, mothers and their children, daughters and their parents. In “Margaret, Are You Grieving?” as woman on an idyllic vacation with her second husband is caught up in the past, reliving the accidental death of her child. In “Forbidden Waters,” a woman looks back on her childhood boating trips with her father and finally understands a vital truth about her parents’ marriage.
What We Save For Last
Margaret, Are you Grieving?
Luba by Night
The Dream Broker
Some of the stories in this collection first appeared in the following places:
“Babylove,” The Agni Review
“Birthday Card,” Special Report: Fiction
“The Dream Broker,” Redbook
“Ears” The Boston Review
“Forbidden Waters,” The Virginia Quarterly Review
“Headlines,” Michigan Quarterly Review
Winner of the Lawrence Foundation Prize
“Luba By Night,” Fiction
“Margaret, Are You Grieving?” Mademoiselle
“Memorial Day” San Francisco Chronicle, St. Petersburg Times, and Kansas City Star
PEN Syndicated Fiction Competition winner
Produced on NPR Playhouse: “The Sound of Writing II”
“Small Sins,” Columbia
“What We Save For Last,” The Providence Journal Sunday Magazine and New England Living
For additional information about these published stories, consult Corinne Demas Bibliography, Short Stories.
With a formal delicacy and quietly reflective intensity, Corinne Bliss’s stories are akin to poetry.
In What We Save for Last a kernel—the mystery that even a small matter holds—is disclosed leaf after leaf in each story. Her work has an intimate quality; what is dear to her becomes dear to us; her characters’ hopes and fears become our own. We partake of them, and our life is enriched and deepened by her perception. Artful, never predictable, she traces new paths, and where she beckons we follow.
Throughout these bittersweet tales, women’s past losses linger as a white noise in the background of otherwise fulfilled lives. In one a happily married woman finds her birthday given a sharp edge of pleasurable regret by the card that arrives each year from a former lover. Vacationers are mistaken for honeymooners even as the woman grieves over the death of her young daughter. A newspaper editor befriends a child who seems intentionally lost and in a tacit collusion with her mother to find a more loving home. The past and present fuse, as when a woman’s childhood recollection of her mother’s momentary hesitation before going to the aid of her injured son is superimposed on the reality of the demanding, ailing mother for whom she now cares. Another woman understands in retrospect the suppressed passion she glimpsed as a child between her father and a female colleague. Intense childhood experiences—a brother-sister canoe trip that turns perilous, a sister’s last, emotion-fraught Christmas at home before leaving for college—segue into family myth even as they occur. Imbued with an awareness of the precariousness of security, these stories make unsettling, poignant reading.
Nicely drawn cameos of women exploring their roles in contemporary society.
Following the tradition of Jane Austen, Corinne Demas Bliss has chosen to work on a few inches of ivory. . . By describing minute incidents with skill and authentic emotion, the author illustrates that connections between people are as complicated and fragile as the tiny seashells in ‘”Margaret Are You Grieving?” Personalities are delineated with small, deft touches; curiously enough, the suppression and compactness create an open-lattice framework which lets plot and characters breathe freely. The stories have a large cumulative effect. . . they carry strong undercurrents of nostalgia and loss. . . and yet, they remain remarkably free of malaise, that ubiquitous presence in postmodern fiction; instead they convey a feeling of warmth and safety, beckoning to the wanderers who press their noses against the warm windowpane.
In the title story, it’s the character Marjorie who spaces out her Christmas gifts to last the whole day. . . It is the same excellent sense of time and pacing that characterizes the stories in this collection. . . Here is a writer always in control of the situation without seeming to be. Characters are real, and events unfold naturally, to the great pleasure of the reader.
Bliss’s control never inhibits the intensity or complexity of her female characters’ emotions, whether they sneak out in family relationships or surface more dramatically in confrontations with the outside world. Tiny revelations spring from overtly mundane sources and rarely fail to make us feel like participants in her splendidly rendered characters’ subtly textured lives. Her cleanly crafted stories are equally accessible and a joy to read.
--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Corinne Demas Bliss writes of “the scar beneath the sleeve that I finger in the dark”—those losses and events, small and large, that inform the lives of her female narrators. . .Quiet, moving stories.
--Feminist Bookstore News
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Paperback ISBN 0-915943—69-7
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