Alone With You
In the O. Henry Prize–winning story “The Visitor,” a VA hospital nurse’s aide contends with a family ghost and discovers the ways in which her own past haunts her. The reticent father in “Pond” is confronted with a Solomonic choice that pits his love for his daughter against his feelings for her young son. In “Night Train to Frankfurt,” first published in The New Yorker, a daughter travels to an alternative-medicine clinic in Germany in a gambit to save her mother’s life. And in the title story, a woman vacations in Morocco with her family while contemplating a decision that will both ruin and liberate them all.
From “Temporary,” where a young woman confronts the ephemeral nature of companionship, to “Three Girls,” in which sisters trapped in a snowstorm recognize the boundaries of childhood, the nuanced voices of Alone With You bear the hallmarks of an instant classic from a writer with unerring talent and imaginative resource. Silver has the extraordinary ability to render her fictional inhabitants instantly relatable, in all their imperfections. Her stories have the singular quality of looking in a mirror. We see at once what is familiar and what is strange. In these stirring narratives, we meet ourselves anew.
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Alone With You
Read an Excerpt
Vivian and Shelly lived in downtown Los Angeles, in an industrial space that belonged, nominally, to a ribbon factory whose warehouse was attached. Shelly discovered it one night when the band she belonged to had played at an impromptu concert there. When the evening was over and everyone had cleared out, Shelly and a man she’d met that evening stayed on. The man left soon afterward, but Shelly did not. She worked out an arrangement with the owner of the ribbon factory: the rent would be paid in cash, and if Shelly was discovered by the housing authorities, the owner would claim that she was a squatter.
Vivian met... see more
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Reading Group Guide
Marisa Silver returns with an indelible collection of eight stories that mine the complexities of familial relationships and the surprising ways love manifests itself in our lives. In Alone With You, her brilliantly etched characters struggle to deal with life’s abrupt and painful changes. Silver has the signature talent of rendering her fictional inhabitants instantly relatable, in all their imperfections. Through them she powerfully underscores our own unquenchable need for connection.
1. In “Temporary,” Vivian seems content and almost revels in mediocrity. She remembers being labeled by an advisor as a “below-the-radar kind of girl” (p. 4), yet this does not seem to bother her. Why does she continually seek transience and lack motivation?
2. Talk about the temporary things in Vivian’s life – her living situation, her job, her friends. How do they shape her? What kind of person is she?
3. Why does Candy take see more