Sea Lovers (Paperback)

Selected Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)

By Valerie Martin

Vintage, 9780307739551, 336pp.

Publication Date: August 23, 2016

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (8/18/2015)

List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


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.

About the Author

Valerie Martin is the author of ten novels, including The Ghost of the Mary CelesteThe Confessions of Edward Day, TrespassMary ReillyItalian Fever, and Property; three collections of short fiction; and a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi, titled Salvation. She has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Kafka Prize (for Mary Reilly) and Britain’s Orange Prize (for Property).

Praise For Sea Lovers: Selected Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)

“Complex and wonderful.” The New York Times Book Review

“Valerie Martin is a consummate stylist. A cool, spare writer who can make the fantastic utterly, often horribly believable.” —The Boston Globe

“Revelatory. . . . Distinguished by an alluring precision. . . . Exact and provocative.” —Jane Smiley, The Guardian (London)

“Elegantly ruthless. . . . Valerie Martin dissects the inner lives of men and women (not to mention one chilling mermaid).” —More 

“Captivating. . . . Martin’s writing is a reward in itself, a wonderful precision-tool. She uses it to chisel at the human condition—and the effect is astonishing.” —Financial Times

“Exceptional. . . . This immaculate collection spans Martin’s career from the tight and serious ambition of her youth, through a wittier, more playful phase investigating creativity through stories about music and painting as well as writing.” —Daily Mail

“Enthralling. . . .  The prose is grounded in precision and certainty, it’s a steady navigation system, and cantilevers the most remarkable flights of fancy with what we recognize as all-too-human behavior.” —Chronogram  

“Varied, engaging, and often shocking. . . . An insightful look into the evolution of Martin’s writing and her talent for depicting our darker natures.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“This collection is rife with the unspoken cracks between people, and leaves a haunting, lingering impression.” —Publishers Weekly