From the first story in A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You—about a mother whose daughter is preparing for a sex change operation, to the last, about a writer who, Iago-fashion, breaks up a marriage by creating a self-serving, self-reflexive fiction—psychotherapist Amy Bloom is unrelenting in her presentation of extremes.
Bloom’s first collection of stories, Come To Me (1993), surprised readers with examinations of incest and schizophrenia; this second collection—no surprise now—sometimes seems tediously more of the same. Approximately a third of the book is made up of two stories about the aftermath of a young black man’s having sex with his white stepmother following his father’s death. Although that certainly breaks social taboos, it may not be enough to justify the slow-moving fifty pages Bloom devotes to their Oedipal guilt.
Disruption and death pervade all these stories. In one, a man dying of Parkinson’s Disease asks his illicit lover to perform the final act of devotion when he can bear it no longer; in another, a woman who loses her baby wants to adopt an armless, troubled child; and in still another, a woman battling breast cancer is cared for by her lesbian friend, who has already lost a breast to the disease.
As usual, Bloom manages to avoid the sentimental “movie-of-the-week” syndrome in these stories by telling them in a clever, witty voice. However, once you get over the novelty of transsexuality and have a few laughs at Bloom’s sophisticated point of view, you may feel you have been smoothly manipulated and have learned little about what it means to be frailly human.