Reviews for Summer Lies

Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
As the title implies, each of the seven stories in Schlink's latest collection is rooted in the infectious vernal months when, emboldened, perhaps, by the lengthened daylight of the season, these brainy, poised academics, musicians, and writers buzz wildly below their cool-seeming exteriors. A writer in upstate New York fears losing his wife, a far more celebrated writer than he, to her fame and the Big City and anxiously waits for the snow that might tuck them in for the winter. In "The Last Summer," an aging professor, ridden by cancer, wonders whether he's been happy or simply possessed all the components of happiness while he ponders the optimal moment to consume the euthanizing cocktail he has hidden in the fridge. As one character tells another, the truth "is passionate, beautiful sometimes, and sometimes hideous, it can make you happy and it can torture you," and in each affecting story in this hot, blurry haze of summer, the valley between truth and deception is neither straight nor wide. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
Painful choices confront Schlink's characters in the second story collection from the German author (The Weekend, 2010, etc.). They meet on vacation on Cape Cod. In "After the Season," the first of seven stories, Richard is a German immigrant, a flautist; Susan works for a foundation. He's shocked to discover she's filthy rich; Richard doesn't like rich folks, but head-over-heels love sweeps him into a commitment to move in with her, though he's loath to leave his gritty Manhattan neighborhood; these are his people. Richard is a plausible but not fully autonomous character in a very well-crafted story. Not quite so plausible is the protagonist of "The House in the Forest"; he too is a German immigrant, a novelist like his American wife. She's successful, he's not. They find an idyllic country hideaway in which to raise their little girl, away from the distractions of Manhattan; but how can the husband make their seclusion total? Credibility dissolves as his first act of vandalism propels him into madness. The most painful choice is faced by Thomas in "The Last Summer." The retired philosopher has inoperable bone cancer. Thomas will treat himself to a last summer with his family; when the pain becomes unbearable, he will take a lethal cocktail. His plan goes awry when his wife finds the bottle. Again, credibility suffers when she goes ballistic at a family gathering. Nina's painful choice came during her youth ("The Journey to the South"). Should she leave her bourgeois family and prospective husband for the happy-go-lucky student she's fallen for? She chose wrongly and now, a cranky old woman, is eaten up by regret. The fun story is "Stranger in the Night." The very proper Jakob is transfixed by the wild odyssey of his seatmate on a trans-Atlantic flight. Who could resist the story of a beautiful girlfriend, a swaggering sheikh, a suspicious death and five million euros? And now the stranger wants to borrow Jakob's passport! A thoughtful, stimulating collection. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 March #1

Author of The Reader, a mega-best-selling novel worldwide, Schlink triumphs in short fiction as well. It's thrilling to hear that he's back with a new collection over a decade after the compact, insightful Flights of Love. That collection dealt with love in all its twistedness (e.g., an East German husband informs on his wife as a way to protect her), so you can imagine how he deals with lies.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 June #4

Most of the seven short stories in Schlink's eloquent and profound second collection are thematically bound by the protagonists' titular distortions. "The day she stopped loving her children was no different from other days," opens "The Journey to the South," which finds Nina, an elderly divorced woman, traveling to look up her old lover, Adalbert Paulsen, who confronts her about the lies behind their breakup years ago. In "The Last Summer," retired professor Thomas Wellmer assembles his family, his "components of happiness," one last time before a planned suicide due to the increasing pain of terminal cancer. His wife discovers the lethal cocktail bottle, and he's forced to reveal his plan to the whole family--with surprising results. In the somewhat lighter "The Night in Baden-Baden," a playwright is falsely accused by his longtime girlfriend of having an affair. Bereft after this shocking, and violent, accusation, the playwright has a tryst with a waitress, fulfilling his girlfriend's fears, in what may be the gem in a generally top-notch collection from Schlink (The Reader). (Aug.)

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