The twelve stories in this essential collection comprise the best of Valerie Martin’s long and distinguished career. Celebrated for her unflinching exploration of human morality and her astonishing insights into our shared losses and joys, Martin draws on an extraordinary range of genres and settings, shifting from realism to myth, from past to present, from the Louisiana bayou to the streets of Rome and beyond.
In these stories, Martin mines her three literary preoccupations—animals, artists, and metamorphoses—to unforgettable effect. In “The Consolation of Nature,” a family battles a giant rat that has invaded their home. “The Open Door” follows an American poet in Rome, forced to choose between her lover and a world so new it takes her breath away. In “Et in Academic Ego,” a seventeen-year-old bayou orphan falls in love with a centaur who transforms her life. And the title story conjures up a hideous mermaid who fatally seduces a fisherman. Sophisticated, incisive, deeply felt and always surprising, Sea Lovers showcases the enduring work of an indispensable writer.