Dance of the Suitors

Dance of the Suitors
J. M. Villaverde

Something about J. M. Villaverde’s excellent debut collection of stories calls to mind Duchamp’s Large Glass, with its diagram of cracked desire representing a voyeurized female cloistered above an anonymous, mechanical circle jerk. In a similar way, the characters in Villaverde’s fiction, including a young “Harry” James on an ironic quest to lose his virginity in Europe and a pair of seniors finding different varieties of love in Acapulco, are less into sex than seduction, the eternal dance of Duchamp’s suitors that ends the title story and has the dancers “moving their limbs like machines winding down.” The art is in the deadpan and earnest voice Villaverde demonstrates such fine control over, seeming always to be straining for an even more perfect rendering of something the dancers are drawn to but which remains out of their reach.