The Korea Herald


Landlady snoops in ‘Affairs of Others’

By Korea Herald

Published : Aug. 29, 2013 - 19:36

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The Affairs of Others
By Amy Grace Loyd 

“The Affairs of Others,” a debut novel by Amy Grace Loyd, former literary editor of Playboy, has such an intense and heady narrative voice that it recalls those occasions when a substance one has just ingested is a whole lot stronger than expected. One is overwhelmed by the scent of a gardenia, by disturbing sounds from the upstairs apartment, or perhaps by the features on the face of the policeman who has just knocked at the door.

“ ... (H)e pulsed past me and roamed feet from me; a wiry man, it appeared, with the city all through him. He had a long bone of a nose on a short face, a smallish cleft chin, a profusion of eyebrows. ... I tried not to see so much, not today, not the wave in his thick hair or his sun-loving skin and the wide pores there, or the day-old beard coming in what was a field of hard black pushing and pushing.”

This is thirty-something Brooklyn landlady Celia Cassill, whose husband died five years ago, leaving her with a mind-altering dose of pain and enough money to buy a building where she has rented out three of the four apartments to people she believes will keep to themselves.

At first, in the immediate wake of her loss, Celia developed Cheryl Strayed syndrome (crazy promiscuity as a result of profound grief, a state Strayed defined in her award-winning essay, “Love of My Life”). Celia stops going to abandoned diners with strangers on the subway, but is obsessed with both privacy and violation, is lonely, fierce and looking too hard at other people’s pores. Also, she has a medicine cabinet full of every drug in the world.