The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story
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The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  830 ratings  ·  177 reviews
“Joan Wickersham’s brilliant The News From Spain shows, in all its twisty beauty, what a short story collection can do. The stories are gorgeous in themselves, but the way they speak to each other is truly extraordinary.”—Elizabeth McCracken, author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

From the author of the acclaimed memoir The Suicide Index, a virtuosic col...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Nick Schroeder
Nov 16, 2012 Nick Schroeder rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of the short story and lovers of stories of love
Recommended to Nick by: Stacie
Shelves: short-stories
What’s the news? What’s the news from Spain, from New York, from Mexico, from the heartland? From the land of the heart? The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham is a book of seven short stories which, while they are not connected by characters or location, they are connected by the heart line. In one story Wickersham investigates the relationship of a paralyzed dancer and her choreographer husband. Of the dancer’s relationship to one of her caregivers, a gay man, and his relationship to his lover...more
Pam
The seven short stories in this book were all titled "The News from Spain". They were all completely different and unrelated, although they were all about a relationship(s) involving some type of love. It was smartly written in that the "news from Spain" was interwoven in to each of the separate stories AND because it showed various forms and degrees of love. However, it may have been TOO smartly written for me because I just didn't get it overall. Most all of the stories were about somebody hav...more
Jill
Let me cut right to the chase. This is one of the most confidently-written, tender, and triumphant short story collections I have read since Alice Munro. And that is saying a whole lot.

Most short story collections are linked by a theme, character, or plot point, and so it is here. In each of these stories, a character receives “news from Spain” – real news or metaphorical news. In the first story, old friends receive their news on the beach: “…my father would hand me a shell and say, “Want to li...more
Richard Kramer
Well. This was recommended to me by someone whose taste in reading I admire. I am giving it three stars because now that I have written a book I would NEVER give anyone less than three stars who wrote one themselves, unless it was Hitler, or Stalin, or Pinochet, because writing a book is a big deal and all any author needs is someone to come along and let them know how their book DISPLEASED them. This book is elegant, thoughtful, smart, well-crafted. I hated it. But she wrote it, and she wrote i...more
Bonnie Brody

I loved this book. Not only is it great to read by yourself, it is a wonderful book to read aloud. On a three hour automobile trip, the passage went very fast as I read this book to my husband and we both ate it up. It was a delight to both of us.

The stories all have two links. They are all entitled 'News From Spain' and consist of either very serious news occurring during the story or very funny news: think Saturday Night Live appearing in the story. They are also linked by love. Every story is...more
Abby Frucht
I don't know much at all about Tantric practice, but a friend once described to me tantric sex, in which the gestures are spare, slow, understated, drawn out, thorough but unelaborated...and the exquisite tension but in and between the line of The News From Spain reminded me of that. Along the way, the forays into metatext somehow didn't satisfy...except to make the book appeal to me as being, in addition to a collection of really fine stories, secretive, deeply personal, impassioned, cryptic, e...more
Kaycie Hall
I loved the idea of this collection, "7 variations on a love story," and I think Wickersham did a beautiful job. All of the stories are titled "The News from Spain," and that phrase plays into each one,tying them all together. Despite the fact that each story is a love story (and a often heartbreaking one), it doesn't feel overdone or too sentimental.
Alise Wascom
Perfect. I'll find better words after I pick myself up off the floor.
Alice Meloy
Ever since reading Nam Le's brilliant short story collection, The Boat, a couple years ago, I have been more willing to pick up short stories than I used to be. But there are so many books in my "To Read" stacks that I probably would not have given this collection a chance had it not been for Liz's strong recommendation. I was not disappointed. With seven very different situations and sets of characters, Wickersham explores and describes all kinds of love relationships, proving that love is neve...more
Eliza
2/1/2013: Elegant, charming, poignant: Wickersham's prose is finely and femininely tuned, and the stories in this collection (each entitled The News from Spain, and each including some reference to the idea), are lovely. As far as I can tell, that is the only connection among them--except that they are all about problematic love (though really, is there any other kind?). She seems to be using the device of always including something about TNFS as an exercise; how can I write seven works with the...more
Stacey
Do not be fooled by the subtitle of this book. It should be called "Seven Variations on Infidelity." Also, it is not "A" love story, but at least 12 of them, and they all end with everyone living Miserably Ever After. None of them appear to be connected, except with a clever aside in each about something going on in Spain.
I gave this 4 stars because it is one of the most beautifully written books I've read recently, and all of the stories are engrossing. It just made me deeply sad to read it. Th...more
Jamie
3.5 stars, and here is what gave it the extra shove closer to 4 stars:

1. The brilliant idea of using the same title for every story and featuring that phrase in each story in its own context. It creates unity, yes, but also a mild anticipation upon starting each new story.

2. They're all "love stories" but they each have such fully formed and deliciously human characters as to be more about those people, than about love itself.

The one thing I really didn't like about this was the intrusion of th...more
Sheila Guevin
This is an exception to the rule book for me. I rarely read collections of short stories.

The genre lends itself to quick contemplative thoughts. In just a few pages, the writer makes his point and then you need to put that away to move onto the next unrelated topic often without giving it time to develop. For me it is equivalent to sitting down and eating and entire box of mixed chocolates. Too much, too sweet for one sitting.

What makes The News From Spain different is that it is variations on...more
Bookslut
This was a great book. It sort of had me at hello, since all the stories were titled The News From Spain, which I found incredibly clever. I was left confused with the last two in the collection, hence the dip to four stars, because they contained flashbacks that were not directly linked to the non-flashback portions of the story. I knew she was going for some kind of tie-in, and I really worked to figure it out for her, but at best I could feel a link I was barely missing, and a general themati...more
Ken Harvey
To read a Joan Wickersham book is to read something entirely new. As was the case with her masterful Suicide Index, The News From Spain enters territory unchartered by any other writer working today. The News From Spain dazzles in its construction, its characters, and in its language that is at once crystal-clear and evocative. Not only does Wickersham break down the boundaries of what we understand as the literary genre, she also entertains us with a wonderful read.
Maree  ♫ Light's Shadow ♪
This is an amazing collection of stories about all different types of love. As with all short story collections, there were stories that hit harder than others and some I didn't enjoy as much as others, but there's so much messy reality recorded in these pages that I think there's something for almost everyone to relate to. Beautifully written, and make sure you know the historical background for some of her pieces when you read, too. It just adds to it.
Lida
In this book, Joan Wickersham uses the phrase, "the news from Spain," in a variety of ways, all different and inventive. I loved a couple of these stories, all 7 of which are named, "The News from Spain," and would recommend them all except for the last story. The "present" story in No. 7 took place in a floating world wrapped around a solid love story that happened in the 1940s and the whole narrative was, in the end, very unsatisfying. Perhaps this was the point, as it described two unconsumma...more
Dee Dunckley
I love a good short story and Joan Wickersham writes some good ones here. The writing style is unobtrusive in the best sense of the word, it's deft and interesting but not showy or heavy-handed, and so you are free to relax and hear the tale. Nice balance between observation, characterization and story. Will read her again.

Laurie
Oh, what a lovely book. Consisting of 7 short stories, all with the title, The News from Spain. Very character driven, beautifully written, this is a book that makes you think of your life, compare and contrast with the stories and characters. I can't wait to read more by Joan Wickersham.
Emily
This book came highly recommended. I lost it to someone in a book swap and then was lucky enough to get the last copy at the bookstore. I've read it slowly over the course of several months, savoring each story. Beautiful writing - I highly recommend this book!
Kathleen
Any words I use to summarize the impact of these seven short stories, all connected by their titles, are inadequate to describe their power to challenge my thinking, to inspire and move me. Reading through them over several days, their energy grew stronger, almost a physical presence. The characters are varied in every possible way and the story lines all different (“7 variations on a love story” according to the author.) In clear, concise language (I imagined the author revising and revising, p...more
Jenny
This short story collection is a gem. "The News From Spain" consists of seven distinct, unrelated short stories, all titled "The News From Spain." Each short story earns that title in its own way and each explores love relationships with the depth and texture that makes the collection seem like a novel. The stories focus on the riffs, fissures, and losses in love and on the unexpected intimacy that can emerge between friends and also strangers. Some stories focus on small shifts in broken or com...more
Heather
Love lost, unrequited, and in altered states from the point of view of middle aged women. Loved the stories. I was hooked.
Lauren
Loved this book. Soooo good. I don't usually go in for short stories, but she is a very, very good writer of short stories, and in each one she jumped right into the stuff I care about: relationships, nuanced interpersonal dynamics.

The book is exactly what the title says it is: seven variations on the theme of love, but love in all its different forms: romantic love, familial love, love found, love lost, love unrequited.

And believe me, I don't go in for love stories or romance, and that's not w...more
Brooke Everett
The phrase "the news from Spain" plays a role in each of these stories, but that's their only connection apart from love being the central theme. It was nice that the stories weren't all about romantic love, either - one portrayed the rediscovered love between a mother and a daughter, another showed the love between two female friends. A pleasure to devour on a rainy night, reasonably delicious.

I recognized immediately that the fourth story was a fictionalized account of George Balanchine and Ta...more
Sally Pfoutz

Great read. I admire effortless transitions of povs within same paragraph and story. And also the connections between characters, very intricate and also inventive. Most of the stories are engrossing almost immediately and most of the characters are fully realized. Lots of excellent compare and contrast and apt descriptions with original adjectives. There is one 2nd person story about a girl in a private school and a few 1st person accounts as part of two other stories, but most are 3rd person a...more
Sue
On the cover of this glorious book, in type smaller than the evocative and alluring title, are the words “7 Variations on a Love Story,” letting you know even before you start reading that you are holding a work of fiction that defies easy categorization. The News from Spain is a collection of stories about love—between wives and husbands, parents and children, caregivers and those in their care, friends, lovers—and the seemingly limitless ways it confounds, fails, confuses, surprises and enrich...more
Katherine
" 'Marisol' had nothing to do with your real name--a dull, one-syllable thud of a name, you thought..." (60).
"It was getting dark, the sudden darkness that falls over the Atlantic in winter: a somber shutting down, the ocean withdrawing and becoming invisible" (138).
"There would be a lot of takes; at the end of the day the actress would go home thinking how tired she was of laughing and being kissed" (139).
"But on second thought, why? Who over the age of twenty would be impressed by such shortsi...more
Michelle
Bumped up to three because one of the stories was great, but I wish I would have made a different choice in reading material (can't get that reading time back).

Most of the stories were just ok. (The fact that all of the stories have the same title makes it difficult to refer to them individually. The fourth The News from Spain? The News from Spain about the dancer?)

In general, I like what other readers may consider gimmicks. In this case, the gimmick was including news from Spain in every story...more
Ruth
You know how when a pitcher has a no-hitter game going and you are not supposed to say much, just watch and keep quiet?

This book was a little like that for me. I thought it was great. I was a bit awed by it. It is a series of stories, each as good as the last. And that is saying a lot, because, the first story is a home-run. It is about a long married couple going to a wedding. The husband had been caught cheating a while back, so it is awkward for them to be on this mini vacation. Also, the pe...more
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Joan Wickersham was born in New York City. She is the author of two previous books, most recently The Suicide Index, a National Book Award finalist. Her fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her op-ed column appears regularly in The Boston Globe; she has published essays and reviews in the Los Angeles Times and the International Herald T...more
More about Joan Wickersham...
The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order The Paper Anniversary The Good Parts: The Best Erotic Writing in Modern Fiction Glimmer Train #60 Fall 2006 Ploughshares Fall 2006 Guest-Edited by Ron Carlson

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“She knows by now that grief is about endurance, understanding over and over that the person you loved is not coming back.” 4 likes
“But who is ever able to apply to her own current love affair a word like "similar"?” 2 likes
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