Curled in the Bed of Love

Stories by Catherine Brady

Love on the rocks in California


"How does she do it? Brady's range is dazzling. . . . Her stories, unflaggingly compassionate, delve into the complexities of identity and connection."
—Toni Graham, author of The Daiquiri Girls

"These compelling, intimate stories illumine the lives of people who are old enough to know themselves—their joys and weaknesses, their private passions—and who yet often surprise themselves when they discover what they cannot give up. A beautiful and poignant collection."
—Lan Samantha Chang, author of Hunger: A Novella and Stories

"An achingly lovely collection about the ache of love. Catherine Brady is a thrilling young fictional voice."
—Robert Olen Butler, author of Mr. Spaceman

"Brady's stories wrap all the old questions in new packaging: live, crisp prose and characters who genuinely seem to feel. The plots may be familiar, but the sensibility is refreshingly different."
Kirkus Reviews

"It's rare for a writer to explore with such subtlety and respect the curious symbiosis of the needy and the needed as Brady does."
—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

"Compelling and illuminating short stories that reveal private passions, the human tendency to cling to the familiar and the razor's edge on which so many relationships are balanced. Brady shows a broad range, while retaining a simple, yet strong and clear voice. She is a writer to watch."
San Jose Mercury News

"Brady is a meticulous writer. Every word seems carefully chosen in order to trace the fine contours of her characters' subtle and complex desires. . . . The grace of Brady's writing is only enhanced by the dialogue between the characters. At times it is surprisingly snappy. Surprising, perhaps, because their internal lives are described with such care, their desires and inner struggles mapped so astutely."
—Rebecca Tuch, Women's Review of Books

"Brady's stories wrap all the old questions in new packaging: live crisp prose and characters who genuinely feel."
Kirkus Reviews

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To read Curled in the Bed of Love is to feel the incessant tug between devotion and desire that can unmake even the closest couple. These eleven stories are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in true Left Coast style, Catherine Brady's characters are as resolute in evading middle-class conformity as they are in clinging to their illusions about love. And while they never shy from paying their dues, they can't help but wonder sometimes if their choices have at last accrued too high a cost. What lies in the bed of love, with women and men curled sometimes in repose, sometimes in a defensive knot, are failed dreams, reproofs, ambitions, and stubborn beliefs.

Always, mortality threatens the lovers' embrace. In the title story, Jim and his HIV-positive partner contend with an illness that has fueled their love but also threatens to consume it. In some stories, an outsider exposes the frailty of a relationship. Claire, who's opted for a steady marriage in "The Loss of Green," is both stirred and repelled by the advances of her former mate Sam, a radical environmentalist with a predatory need to reassert his claim on her. And in "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord," Debbie, compelled to translate a brief affair with her cousin's fiancé into a profound transgression, comes clean on a sleazy national talk show.

All of Brady's stories are gritty and unflinching in their gaze, yet lyrical and rich in the imagery of stasis and change—an empty house too long on the market, a pair of kayakers riding out a patch of rough sea, a greenhouse in which the orchid blooms only suggest the darting vitality of butterflies and birds. There is much to learn in these tales of flawed but good people working hard to hold their lives together.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 216 pp.
Trim size: 5.25 x 8


List price: $24.95

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Catherine Brady is the author of three story collections, including the recently released The Mechanics of Falling. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2004 and numerous journals and anthologies. She is also the author of a biography of a Nobel laureate, Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of Telomeres: Deciphering the Ends of DNA, and has a forthcoming book on the craft of fiction.