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The Brutal Language of Love


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About the Author

Alicia Erian is the author of a short story collection, The Brutal Language of Love. Her work has appeared in Playboy, Zoetrope, Nerve, The Iowa Review, and other publications. This is her first novel.


Elegant, deadpan prose, engaging scenarios and a host of sexy, resilient characters distinguish Erian's superb debut collection. The nine vibrant stories are narrated by a host of inwardly sensitive but outwardly tough females, each learning to adjust to the disappointments of adult life. In "Stand Up to the Superpowers," Beatrice rejects the notion of emotional love with an admirer, concentrating instead on seducing her college professors for better grades. Divorce and makeshift home arrangements complicate the emotional lives of most of Erian's characters. In the moving "Still Life with Plaster," Patty is reared by strict yet loving grandparents and becomes physically sick after her mother's intermittent visits. In the title story, 25-year-old Penny must contend with both the discovery of a breast lump and her obstinate father's refusal to help pay for a biopsy. Brigitte, the sexually undecided protagonist of "Almonds and Cherries," submits a provocative lesbian film for a class, and her beloved teacher is chastised by the college for imposing her own orientation on her students. In "Lass," a newly married North London couple temporarily move in with in-laws, only to have a forbidden passion disrupt their new life together. The stories have a mesmerizing, addictive quality, and Erian's characters are believable and endearing. Refreshingly, there are no swift epiphanies; most of these tales end abruptly and unexpectedly, with plenty of loose ends for readers to ponder. Erian gets kudos for never making victims of her independent, resourceful women. Seductive, erotic, smart and tartly humorous, these tales are true gems. (Apr. 13) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Erian has published in hip, commendable places like Zoetrope and Nerve, but this is her first collection. It's a work one reads and likes despite oneself, because the characters can make one frown. There's Beatrice, who tries to make her grades in school by seducing her professors while rather meanly rejecting the advances of a lovelorn freshman, and newly married Shayna, who could never get through her famous father-in-law's books but falls for him anyway. Erian has a way of creating situations that make one read compulsively, like a guilty pleasure. She's good at capturing the dark and sensual underside of life without either celebrating it, or judging it, or presenting it with deadpan cynicism. She cares, and it comes across. A good choice for public libraries, especially with younger readers who deserve someone voicing their concerns. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

A jumble of contradictions -- silly and smart, truthful and ridiculous, heartless and suddenly, painfully heartfelt. Original and very funny, too. -- Mary Gaitskill, author of Bad Behavior
Seductive, erotic, smart and tartly humorous, these tales are true gems. -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
This isn't just a book. This is hilarious, heartbreaking torture. -- Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

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