Building Stories

Nick Richardson writes:

Building Stories follows the lives of three sets of characters who live for a time in the same three-storey walk-up in Chicago. A young ex-art school student who’s had a leg amputated has the apartment on the top floor; a couple still together despite the man’s contempt for his partner and her growing frustration at his lack of affection on the middle; and a lonely old woman – who owns the building – on the ground floor. They’re all trapped in lives of oppressive stasis. Neither member of the middle-floor couple has the confidence or energy to get out of the relationship, though they hate each other. The amputee can’t get a boyfriend, though she desperately wants one: she places a personal ad in a local paper at one point and spends an evening alone in a restaurant waiting for her date. The old woman is so caught up in remembering her own frustrations – she could never find a man because she had to spend so much time looking after her sick mother – that the presence of her rare visitors barely registers.

(LRB 6 December 2012)

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