Comments on The Prevalence of Love
Kathy Konwiak, Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, psychotherapist
R. J. Reilly Book Launch Party, Aug. 22, 2015 – St. Clair Shores, Michigan
“I feel honored to have been asked to say a few words about Bob Reilly’s terrific new book, The Prevalence of Love.
“I have known Mr. Reilly and his family since being a young woman of 25, the “spring” of a person’s life. Planning to live to at least 95, I’m speaking to you today in the autumn of my life’s trajectory………So it was quite a delight to meet the characters of The Prevalence of Love who also have a lifetime of memories, reflections and insights about themselves and the world they live in; and they’re not done making memories… (and I don’t mean previous lives, or parallel universes!).
“It might also be said that our most two important drives are 1) the drive to love and be loved and 2) the drive to have a sense of who we are ---a “separate” self that embodies our personal values, inspirations, dreams, preferences…some refer to this as our “private” self.
“Mr. Reilly skillfully allows us to know the “private” self of the characters inhabiting his short stories. We learn that in many cases, their private selves are in conflict with their desire for intimacy, closeness or love. In the “Secret,” a character badly wants to share an important memory with three of her closest friends but she can’t find the right words to explain the significance of this moment. Another example of a conflict between a person wanting to be true to her “private” self but not wanting to miss an opportunity for love can be found in “Nora.” Does a woman who has lived five decades without a partner take back the man who left her for someone else 30 years before? Again, Mr. Reilly allows us to know her private self well enough that we understand the final decision she makes.
“Another character, in “My Heart is in the Highlands,” faces a shocking shift away from his preference for privacy, i.e., willingness to pay the extra money for private accommodations on a group tour of Europe, never remarrying after a young wife dies….again, Mr. Reilly’s deftness at describing the internal dialogue of his protagonists lead the reader to think “Oh yeah…I don’t know why his feelings changed either, but boy this sure is interesting following how he’s managing things….”
“The author Jane Smiley said of the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro: “the details she notes are so precise and evocative that they enter a reader’s mind as if they were the reader’s own memories, not similar, something like, but the very thing…” My strongest words of praise for many of these stories, is that I could say the same thing for Mr. Reilly’s writing. His integration of the Detroit landscape, the important and emotional connection of many of his characters to historical and literary works, and the tug-of-war described between being open to love and being true to our private selves rings true to me. I found myself engaged in the conflicts of both the men and women characters and found myself very curious to see how each story ended, as if their conflicts had been mine.
“I strongly encourage you to read this book!! I am looking forward to buying and reading Over There, a novel by R. J. Reilly available here today.”
Available in ebook format