Lily King's debut story collection, Five Tuesdays in Winter subverts expectations as it explores desire, loss, jolting violence, and the inexorable tug toward love at all costs. A reclusive bookseller begins to feel the discomfort of love again. Two college roommates have a devastating middle-aged reunion. A proud old man rages powerlessly in his granddaughter's hospital room. A writer receives a visit from all the men who have tried to suppress her voice.
The pursuit of desire — the hubris and folly of it, its links to our intellect and the tricky synchronicity of brain and heart — is King’s best subject ... King reminds us of the revelations still to be found in plot and character, those elements of fiction that might be called old-fashioned if it weren’t for the fact that she, with her range and emotional precision, never makes them feel so. There is, it turns out, still much more to know about what living is all about, and the things that crack us open, geode-like, to reveal some hidden marvel within ... King’s acuity with all that roils inside us often puts me in the mind of Tessa Hadley or Joan Silber, authors who shun ironic distance for forthright proximity, whose feminism is implicit, who could inscribe the contents of the human heart on the head of a pin ... It’s clear from these stories that she’s never lost sight of how difficult it is to take oneself seriously when no one else really does. It’s one of the reasons I think of her as 'a writer’s writer' — in the best sense, in the sense that we never doubt her belief in storytelling as our best chance at truth and its solaces ... In our time of anxiety and isolation, King writes stories to curl up in, by which I mean they afford us something rarely celebrated in literature: comfort.
10 fierce, funny, tender stories that demonstrate both range and emotional heft. Five of them are brand-new; all of them are stunners ... Creatureliness, embodiment, the body’s strength, and vulnerability haunt these stories ... The book’s title story is King at her distinctive best, combining whimsy, wistfulness, and warmth in a hilarious and romantic story ... King gives us those words in stories that compress marvelous polarities: They hum with intense feeling even as they are dense with allusion; their literary sophistication never obscures their accessibility to our need to be transported.
... wonderfully absorbing ... Five Tuesdays in Winter features stories that pull you in instantly and make you wonder what the author is going to spring on you next ... Long form or short, this is a writer who has mastered the art of conveying depths of human feeling in one beautiful sentence after another.