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"What Counts as Love" by Marian Crotty

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"What Counts as Love" by Marian Crotty
Readers in need of insight into the lives of young women today - challenges, fears, aspirations, consternations, could do no better than take up What Counts as Love. Marian Crotty has been awarded the 2017 John Simmons Short Fiction Award for these nine haunting stories, which testifies to their power and their topical nature. 

The protagonists here, mostly young women, struggle to cope with the duress they encounter trying to navigate and negotiate their way. They, the stories, remind us of the lasciviousness, callousness, abuse, or plain indifference the world heaps in their path. The author depicts these struggles in an honest yet plaintive way; this leads to a certain sameness in tone and diction. However, after completing this collection, I became impressed rather with the variety and fairness on display. Ms. Crotty spares no one, not the young woman with the eating disorder, nor the violent teen about to be banished to the desert, nor the poor heroine addict on the verge of death.
We trespass on these private moments, some of which hold despair, and some what passes for hope, or at least attaining of a plateau of freedom.


The girls and women here emerge with clear character: hope, motivation, delusion, misguided desire, naked aggression. They’re crystal clear. The male characters, even when they lead a story, are less clearly drawn, but that doesn’t matter here. This collection succeeds very well because of the author’s unblinking honesty and very subtle sympathy in the face of the horrifying 21st Century. Congratulations on the award, it’s well deserved.

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