Short stories by Robin Black
Robin Black’s debut short story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, is chock full of broken and wounded people. There are the visible injuries, like the blind daughter in “The Guide,” who lost her vision as a child while playing in the garage with a neighbor boy and is now heading to college, much more perceptive than her parents give her credit for. There are the invisible wounds, like the widow in the story “Pine,” who lives with a broken heart and finds comfort by stringing along her male best friend, knowing he’s in love with her. The stories are undoubtedly dark: a terminal cancer patient narrates one, while a mother watches her daughter have an affair in another, but the style is so precise that there’s a lack of depth to the emotion. Black’s storytelling is lovely and the people are all very interesting, but they are also a little clinical and cold. She doesn’t quite capture reality, which is that love and life and sickness are all messy and not particular to who or what they affect.