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We So Seldom Look on Love
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We So Seldom Look on Love

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  817 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
From the author of the blockbuster Mister Sandman comes a gathering of unusual characters captured in the outrageous and humorous situations for which Barbara Gowdy has become famous. Teasing the taboos, Gowdy creates a marriage dialogue between a woman and her transsexual fiancé, who she thought was a man, and litigation between Samuel and Simon who share the same two-hea ...more
Paperback, 201 pages
Published 2001 by Harper Perennial Canada (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,139)
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Dec 30, 2012 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, canada
I thoroughly enjoyed this one.Gowdy has a beautiful writing style. Not all these stories are about love but they all display unusual human relationships with some "unusual" people. There's a story about a woman learning that her husband was actually born a woman, a story about a man with two heads who tries to murder his other head,another about a female exhibitionist, and another about a girl who has toddler-sized legs on her torso (her Siamese twin). I thoroughly enjoyed reading these short st ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Pooker rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who usually eschew short stories
Shelves: short-stories, canada
I first read this book many, many moons ago. It is the book that I've always pointed to when justifying my opinion that Barbara Gowdy "always" writes about unusual, weird characters. I've read many of Gowdy's books since, including Mister Sandman, The White Bone and Helpless. All of those have served to confirm my original opinion. So you'd think I would have been more than prepared for a second foray into Gowdy's macabre territory in this book of stories.

Wrong. Even on a second reading, I was t
Jan 19, 2008 Denis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We So Seldom Look On Love, Barbara Gowdy's first published book, is a compilation of short stories. Like her novels, we see her championing the misfits and outcasts and explore their worlds in an honest and sympathetic fashion. Regardless of how outlandish her protags appear to be (...a woman exhibitionist, a two-headed man, a girl with her dead Siamese twin's trunk growing from her hip, a woman who literally embraces death...), her stories come off as compassionate and true.

This book is one th

Went around the house collecting brief and odd or somewhat strange stories to review and shelve here and was pleased to rediscover this forgotten gem.

As noted: "The characters in these eight masterfully crafted stories are from life's extremes -- a female necrophile, a lonely exhibitionist, a two-headed man, Siamese twins, a young girl with a severely enlarged head, a transsexual -- but with her certain hand Barbara Gowdy transforms the extraordinary into the familiar."

Empathy, humor, humanism
Kamalendu Nath
May 20, 2015 Kamalendu Nath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a smart, intelligent human sexual drama in ordinary realms with a satisfactory conclusion – this book is not for you. On the other hand if you are willing to face up to possible inner demons revolving around sex and love cravings in Alice Munro’s style of intelligent enigmas in short stories, challenging repressed feelings and imaginations, here are eight short jewels.

Body and Soul, Challenges the sanity of an elderly grandmother (Aunt Bea) in foster home for young girls;
Christy Stewart
There are fantastic stories in here like the beautiful necrophiliac or the two headed man personifying good and evil, but my favorite story was the one about the foster children. Gowdy told the story in a beautiful and loving way that made it far more arresting then other pieces I've read like it in which the authors try to be shocking.
Emily Cait
May 11, 2015 Emily Cait rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give this more than five stars. This collection of short stories blew me away. Normally there are one or two stories in a collection that 'grab' me, but every single one of these short stories is one that I want to reread. The characters are haunting and disturbing and fascinating. And I just can't stop thinking about them.
May 12, 2015 Erik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstory
We So Seldom Look on Love is a collection of 8 short stories featuring: a foster family involving a blind girl, a retarded girl, and a kind, bumbling auntie; a circus freak with an extra pair of legs (a siamese twin) sticking out from her lower torso; a girl who thinks Jesus gave her the power to float; a house-wife exhibitionist; a two-headed man; an adulterous woman whose daughter was killed by a ceiling fan; a necrophiliac; and a woman who discovers her husband is a transgender female on thei ...more
Kane S.
Feb 20, 2015 Kane S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deep down, beneath the lurid sex and freakish characters, this collection of short stories, We So Seldom Look on Love -- a gorgeous title borrowed from a poem by Frank O'Hara --, has a gooey, warm heart.

I think, this book is absolutely divisive. Some people will see Barbara Gowdy's stories as exploitative and desperate in the way of many modern writers trying to seem transgressive. But others will see these stories for what they are: each offers a nuanced and daring exploration of loneliness and
La Mala  ✌
Excelente!!! Hace tiempo que no leía unas historias cortas tan originales , profundas y precisas .

"FLesh of my Flesh" me tuvo leyendo entre lágrimas . Tanta ternura ! (Entre tanta perturbación de la mayoría de los demás cuentos)
Shari J
May 12, 2016 Shari J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If somebody were looking down on them, Marion thinks--if, for instance, her mother's spirit was that clean, geometrical flare--they would seem like any other man and wife. They would seem content, she thinks. Peaceful, and lucky. Two people unacquainted with grief. They would seem like two happily married, perfectly normal people."

A compilation of out-of-the-ordinary stories, dealing with taboo topics faced by marginalized individuals be it due to deformations or freakish obsessions (eg. hypers
Phil Della
Dec 22, 2015 Phil Della rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is little point in repeating what every other reviewer has said, that Gowdy is brilliant and her subject matter twisted but fascinating. All true. The closest example I have read would be Edgar Alan Poe, but he's more creepy. I don't go out of my way to read his stuff, and since I'm not a fan of the perverse I can't say I'll be dishing up more Gowdy. I have to draw the line somewhere. It won't do for me to be lingering in her world too long. I don't get my kicks from this, but her writing ...more
Jan 23, 2008 Lia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lia by: Campbell family
Gorgeous, disturbing short stories by a writer I had never heard of. One or two missed the mark, and a few have weak endings, but in general a very impressive collection. I'm partial to short fiction anyway, but these were just stunning: Wildly imaginative, richly characterised, and so thoroughly engaging I avoided anything that might disturb me mid-story, to the point of being somewhat rude to the people around me. Many of Gowdy's characters would be considered oddities -- the eccentric extras ...more
Leticia Cubias
Jun 04, 2013 Leticia Cubias rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Initially enticed by the collection's title, this book wasn't what I expected and I'm really glad it wasn't a run of the mill take on love. It presents love in atypical forms and the stories range from depicting characters with physical deformities to those with taboo obsessions. Two things struck me as a bit strange though, one was Gowdy's recurrent use of certain names in each story and her recurrent use of pets/pet businesses as a way to have female characters become financially stable. I'm n ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories are deep, intense, wild, unnerving, and honest. Quite possibly the most interesting collection of stories I have read.

Body and Soul
Presbyterian Crosswalk
Ninety-three Million Miles Away
The Two-Headed Man
We So Seldom Look on Love
Flesh of My Flesh
Jen Dixon
I want to have Gowdy's literary babies after reading this. Many of her stories are haunting and beautiful. From deformity to voyeurism, gender to marriage, Gowdy lends her pen to heavy topics with an unflinching flourish that drew me in line after line. This will long remain a favorite.
Feb 01, 2008 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
TV Ontario carried a literary show called Imprint, and it was here that I first heard of Barbara Gowdy. But it was as an interviewer and it wasn't until a couple of years later that I learned she was also a writer, and quickly becoming one of this country's best. So finally
I decided to knock this one off my reading list.
It's a collection of eight stories featuring outcasts, freaks and depraved souls who are brought into a sensitive light by fine writing.
The stories are mostly inconsequential, i
Anna Dalvi
Jan 20, 2014 Anna Dalvi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really stayed with me.
I read it for a book club, and wasn't thrilled with the choice, since I rarely enjoy short stories. And when I read it, I found all the stories bizarre.
But I found that after having read it, I would often think back on the stories. I'd read something else and I'd think back and contrast and compare to the stories in this collection.
Ange Hawkins
Mar 19, 2015 Ange Hawkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend from work bought this for me as a birthday present... When I first began it I was thinking 'WTF?' But as the book went on I found it fascinating & amazed that I was reading something so insane. I am a better person I believe for reading this book!
Jun 23, 2015 Nat rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, canadian
Incredibly disturbing, well written, and at times quite beautiful. This book deals with abhorrent topics such as necrophilia in a manner that elicits compassion for the characters and the world at large which deals with such characters. Caution must be taken, especially if you're very imaginative, as this book could deeply scar you.
Why four stars, not five? Because although it was a good piece of work, great even, it was not very palatable. I didn't enjoy reading it, although I enjoyed Gowdy's s
Oct 24, 2015 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of these 8 stories even I found sick! If they were all like that one (no, not the necrophiliac one) then I would have given this book 5 stars.
Lena Mcclintock
Feb 28, 2014 Lena Mcclintock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and disturbing all at once. Her writing is both beautiful and horrible!
Beth Follett
Oct 25, 2014 Beth Follett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVED this book. LOVED. . .
This was a book I noticed was selected by one of our seniors as the book she wanted her honorary bookplate in. Because I know her and think she's terrific, I thought I'd try this book. Ok, I tried! No can do. Collection of short stories. Read some of the stories, all bizarre in their own way (some sort of gothic-y). I hung in until last night, when I started a story set in a male stripjoint; jumped to next story and the main character talks about lying on the cadavers she is working on. Not my ...more
Matt Musselman
Jun 18, 2013 Matt Musselman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: format-kindle
Most common word in other people's review of this book of sort stories: disturbing. Second most common word: touching. That about sums it up.

I was reminded a lot of Katherine Dunn's "Geek Love." This is also the story of freaks, and how they find ways to live and love despite being at the fringes of society: a girl with four legs, a blind girl with a disfiguring birthmark and a crack-baby little sister, an exhibitionist, a nymphomaniac, a necrophile. All very interesting. This book will stick wi
Jul 24, 2010 Goldie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly one of the most disturbing books I've ever read...certainly some of the imagery will be with me forever. The last story, "Flesh of My Flesh", has to be separately rated from the book, because I found it offensive, and, at the same time, almost unbearably sad. I wept and raged simultaneously. It must be my week for reading books that are beautifully written but go places I am uncomfortable with. First Barry Hannah's Ray and now this...
For a book found at the side of the road in the middle of Cottage Country, I was pleasantly surprised. The stories were bizarre and weird but enjoyable, like strange little snapshots in a life totally and completely far from my own. The descriptions were vivid and you could almost picture a darker shade of every colour as you take a quick peek into the life of those on the outside of the norm.
Oct 13, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story lovers
I sought this book out after seeing the movie "Kissed," based on one of the short stories in this collections. It's a fantastic book that has lingered with me and that I think about frequently. I should re-read it. I've been very disappointed with her novels, but Gowdy's short stories are tight, revealing, wonderful.
Jan 13, 2008 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit, short-stories
What a strange collection of characters fill this book of short stories.
From a two-headed man, to a four-legged girl, a necrophiliac, and an
exhibitionist. In places, this book headed into some nearly pornographic
territory that I found rather unnecessary and manipulative. Not really my
cup of tea.
Jul 30, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the short stories in this book were pretty bizarre, but I also found most of them moving in one way or another. Gowdy has a knack for writing from the perspective of characters at the margins of society and for depicting them in a compassionate and complex way.
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Barbara Gowdy is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. Born in Windsor, Ontario, she is the long-time partner of poet Christopher Dewdney and resides in Toronto.
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