Feature

Also of interest ... in love, lust, and romance

<em>Love Stories</em> edited by Diana Secker Tesdell; <em>The Other Side of Desire </em><br /> by Daniel Bergner; <em>Passing Strange</em> by Martha A. Sandweiss; <em>Very Valentine</em> by Ad

Love Stories edited by Diana Secker Tesdell (Everyman’s Library, $15)Love is not always a cause for celebration in this impressive new short-story anthology, said Chauncey Mabe in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov, Dorothy Parker, and numerous other masters instead use fiction to illuminate love’s “awful power and beauty.” If the sentimentalism of Valentine’s Day aggravates you, give this collection a chance. Great writing can “renew the weariest heart.”

The Other Side of Desire by Daniel Bergner (Ecco, $25)Because science can’t yet explain peculiar sexual longings, said Peter D. Kramer in Slate.com, “resonant journalism” may be the best path to understanding. Daniel Bergner’s careful profiles of a foot fetishist, an amputee fetishist, a pedophile, and a truly sadistic dominatrix “give rise to a host of paradoxes and conundrums.” These stories remind us how difficult it is to say where free will is trumped by desire, both among “the perverse” and those who consider themselves normal.

Passing Strange by Martha A. Sandweiss (Penguin Press, $28)The “bizarre” double life of 19th-­century explorer and scientist Clarence King “would beggar most novelists’ imaginations,” said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. King, a ­well-known sage, spent half his days charming fellow American blue bloods and the other half “passing” as a black man in order to remain with the black woman who eventually bore him five children. Historian Martha Sandweiss’ ­bio­graphy puts flesh on an “astounding” story that ­previously was known only in outline.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (Harper, $26)The title of this “delightful, energetic” new novel is slightly misleading, said Diane White in The Boston Globe. The romantic life of 33-year-old Valentine Roncalli “takes a back seat” to the passion she pours into creating a high-end shoe brand. But Adriana Trigiani is a “seemingly effortless storyteller,” and her latest is enlivened by “wonderfully human characters” and seductive descriptions of food, fashion, New York, and Italy. It “may be her best work to date.”

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