Heathcliff Redux and Other Stories

Atlantic Monthly. Feb. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780802147592. $23.
In her latest collection, National Book Award winner Tuck (The Double Life of Liliane) takes on the disconnect between feelings, memories, and appearances and the underlying reality. The title novella and four short stories are all driven by an effectively uncomfortable sense of dissociation—people distanced from the workings of their own hearts. Yet Tuck misses her mark; the knockout punches of love or youth that hobble her characters call for stronger emotions to ground their stories than she gives them. The novella holds up the melodrama of Wuthering Heights in contrast to its narrator’s affair with a local roué, but her claimed passion and her hoarding of trivia and litanies (“The phrase can’t hold a candle to has its roots in the 1600s…”) feel flat compared to Emily Brontë’s doomed gothic ardor, which makes cameos throughout. The most successful story, “Labyrinth Two,” acknowledges the author’s distance from her subject, building an artful vignette from a photo of four young people around a café table.
VERDICT This short collection takes a respectable look at the ways we evade our own truths but doesn’t engage as deeply as its subjects merit. [See Prepub Alert, 8/5/19.]
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