All human beings struggle to live with our own missteps and transgressions and those of others. In this compelling collection, stories with the depth and resonance of novellas offer a window into the challenging lives of contemporary men and women. From Alec and Mira, children of an unreliable mother, to Naomi and Graham, suburbanites who enter the wilderness of an affair-- and finally to Trevor, a psychiatrist who is himself a "wounded healer" --Orbach presents a kaleidoscope of hopes, desires, longings and regrets of people as diverse as they are familiar --people whose quandaries, whether ordinary or extreme, resonate with our own.
When Laura, a young widow, responds "just for now" to a man who is blind she is drawn in by his compassionate voice. Matthew, trying to wall himself off from the dangers of deep emotion, finds his underlying fears exposed. Sharon, lunching with an ex-lover, commits a small but telling gesture of revenge. Jess, trying to remake her life, struggles to survive the cost to her children and herself. And Martin, involved in a tragic accident, tries in vain to avoid acknowledging the cost of his own shortcomings. These are men and women seeking love, possibility, compassion--- and most of all the self-forgiveness needed to embrace the future.
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Excerpts from Transgressions and Other Stories
“It’s in the airport lounge at the gate, late in winter, that Laura meets the blind man … Through the steamy window wall she can see two planes parked on the field, huge wings spread, like giant snowbirds …She steps back, catches a glimpse of her own reflection in the glass, thrown back by the light—a tall, dark-haired woman in a smart red woolen coat—and is momentarily cheered. She’s still worth looking at. And it’s then, stepping back and realizing she has jostled someone, that she turns and sees the blind man. That’s how she thinks of him, that first moment and even for awhile afterwards … taking in with one gasp the sight of his white cane together with his expectant and quite handsome face.”
from ‘Martin’s Remorse’:
“…the images from the past that flashed through his mind were like postcards from a foreign country. Denny on his red tricycle. The twins … little girls in blue dresses everyone said were adorable, with Sophia keeping her eyes on them, still in her first beauty and full of pride. As if Norman Rockwell painted the scenes of memory. And the grandparents, dead now—they were there in those sketches too, his mother stooped and gray-haired, Sophia’s father with his hawkish gaze watching from his chair.”
“The language of love does vary, after all, from one person to another, and such a breakthrough, as if against his will, stood out all the more brightly against Harry’s habitual reserve. It was engaging in a dangerous way. It invited the fantasy that if she would only persevere—and more, if she could only find the key—the life with him she craved would be opened to her.”
from ‘Becoming Mira’:
“I felt that I was trembling too much to stand, but slowly I got to my feet. Anne stood up and stepped out of her shorts, took my hand, and led me into the water. I followed her lead like a sleepwalker. We struck out for the middle of the pond. The water was cooler now, and the quality of the light told me it was quite late in the afternoon. I dived to feel the chill of the deeper water, and when I surfaced my head was clear, but what had just happened seemed unreal, like a dream brought into the light of day.”
Praise for Transgressions and Other Stories
“In this collection, husbands and wives, fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters yearn to stretch beyond their family units. Throughout, Orbach focuses on strained relationships and transgressions—the threatening steps that people take across unspoken boundaries. The author has a flair for character, and even her shortest stories pulsate with vibrant people who are smart enough to know where their actions might lead … A skillful collection of stories featuring beguiling plots and characters.
“The narratives in Hilary Orbach’s Transgressions and Other Stories are rich, quietly riveting and emotionally textured in ways that are both gripping and transcendent. I was easily caught up in her characters’ lives … and knew that there could be no simple answers to their desires, burdens, and complex dilemmas…Orbach…writes with authority, compassion, clarity and unusual insight.”
author of Almost, Slow Dancing,
The Practice of Deceit
“Hilary Orbach’s collection, Transgressions and Other Stories, holds up to a polished mirror all the emotional fallout of lives lived, choices made, paths followed or avoided, chances taken or missed…Love here, as in life, has a complex weave… Ms. Orbach is an accomplished writer, and these stories are a fine offering…they are like polished stones tossed in a river, ripple overtaking ripple until the face of the water grows calm again.”
author of Problems of Translation,
Love and Other Terminal Diseases
"Hilary Orbach's Transgressions and Other Stories is a triumph! The works in this collection connect with strength and purpose, providing the reader with a rounded emotional experience and insights to take with them long after the book is put down. I highly recommend for anyone who values prose that touches the heart."
-- John McCaffrey,
author of The Book of Ash